## THE GWPF’s annual lecture

Since I had nothing better to do with my afternoon, I watched the Global Warming Policy Foundation’s (GWPF) Annual Lecture, given this year by Richard Lindzen. If you really want to watch it, you can find the link here, but I certainly wouldn’t suggest doing so. In case anyone is new here, I’ve written a number of posts about the GWPF. They’re not exactly an organisation renowned for promoting credible information, and this annual lecture is no exception.

It is actually quite a remarkable lecture, but not in a good way. To be fair, the first third discussed some of the basics of atmospheric physics, the greenhouse effect, and the direct impact of increasing atmospheric CO2, and was actually pretty good. The lecture then switched into conspiracy ideation mode; the UN, Maurice Strong, Olaf Palme, Lysenko, etc. Climate change is – according to Lindzen – entirely politically motivated. The final third of the talk was essentially disputing the evidence for any risks associated with anthropogenically-driven global warming; sea level rise is the same as it’s been for centuries, there is no increase in extremes (even quoting Gavin Schmidt to support this), climate sensitivity is low.

The GWPF article claims that Lindzen said there has been no significant warming for 20 years, that coral reefs will be fine, and that ocean acidification isn’t really a problem, but I don’t recall hearing this in the talk (I may have missed it and don’t plan to listen again). It did finish with a claim about the positive benefits of enhanced atmospheric CO2; it’s is a plant fertiliser that also helps plants to become more drought resistant

I often see claims that we should be moving on from focusing on climate science, to focusing more on climate policy. I agree, and do think this is what we should be doing. What I don’t get is how this is meant to happen if reasonably prominent policy foundations promote narratives that dispute the need for any such policy. I do think we should realise that to achieve anything we will probably need to be pragmatic (don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good) and we should be willing to compromise (we can’t expect the policy that we actually implement, and its goal, to exactly satify our individual ideals).

However, this would seem to require all those involved recognising that there is actually a problem to solve and that pragmatism and compromise are still aimed at developing policies that will actually achieve something. One reason why I think there is still a focus on climate science, rather than climate policy, is because the latter requires a reasonable acceptance of the former. If there is a way to move on to the latter without the former, I’d quite like to know how. Bear in mind that this year’s annual GWPF lecture was given by someone who thinks that emitting CO2 into the atmosphere is actually beneficial.

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### 176 Responses to THE GWPF’s annual lecture

1. GregH says:

Where “prominent policy foundations” = Conservative propagandists for the fossil fuel industry. Sorry, but that’s how I see the GWPF and its US counterparts. They’re ideologically fixated on supporting this highly profitable industry, and all their communication efforts are at best a smokescreen.

2. John Hartz says:

ATTP:

Since I had nothing better to do with my afternoon,…

In retrospect, do you wish you had gone to the pub? 🙂

3. I find it astonishing that Lindzen, claiming some kind of scientific pedigree, can so lazily channel the idea that CO2 being good for plants means that increasing CO2 is good for us. Obviously a plant needs several things to thrive (sunshine, water, warm enough but not too much, CO2, other foodstuffs providing Nitrogen, Phosphates, etc., absence of pests, absence of disease, …). Why focus on one while not considering the others? Well, of course, we know why don’t we.

The SPM document from Working Group II (Impacts/Adaptation) for the 2014 IPCC Report stated:

For the major crops (wheat, rice, and maize) in tropical and temperate regions, climate change without adaptation is projected to negatively impact production for local temperature increases of 2°C or more above late-20th-century levels, although individual locations may benefit (medium confidence)

Alex Kirby wrote an article “US faces ‘abrupt and substantial’ crop losses” (17th January 2017) in the Climate News Network, covering more recent work:

https://climatenewsnetwork.net/us-faces-abrupt-substantial-crop-losses/?utm_source=Climate+News+Network&utm_campaign=eba978e827-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_01_19&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1198ea8936-eba978e827-38799913

This reported on a paper in Nature Communications paper by Bernhard Schauberger. Highlighting its conclusions, he is quoted in the article:

The study explains that nowhere on Earth, not even a country as powerful as the US, can expect
to ride out the climate storm that is brewing. For every single day the temperature remains above 30°C, they find, maize and soya plants can lose about 5% of their harvest. But that is only the start. The simulations performed in the study show how quite small heat increases beyond this threshold can result in “abrupt and substantial yield losses”.

Other studies highlight the singular risk from extreme weather events (heat and drought), which cannot be compensated for by increased CO2 ‘feed’.

4. AndyM says:

My personal summary of this GWPF lecture: A 78 year old will not see the extinction of coral reefs in his lifetime.

5. It would be nice to know if Richard Lindzen agrees with that patently false headline.

Also, please let us not ignore the profound irony of complaining about the politicisation of climate science by talking at a political event.

6. Magma says:

Professor Richard Lindzen slammed conventional global warming thinking warming as ‘nonsense’ in a lecture for the Global Warming Policy Foundation on Monday. ‘An implausible conjecture backed by false evidence and repeated incessantly … is used to promote the overturn of industrial civilization,’ he said in London. — GWPF

Grifters gonna grift. I wonder if Lindzen insists on payment up front.

7. ecoquant says:

I only have one question. Did they play this

in the background?

8. Harry Twinotter says:

While the GWPF keep getting paid, they will keep doing the anti-science denial. Thanks for the heads-up, I won’t bother to watch the lecture if it is bollocks.

9. AndyM says:

I wonder why Lindzen claims his intellectual powers have dwindled to the point where he is incapable of producing a scientific paper to refuting so wrong it can be labelled “nonsense”.

10. John Randall says:

With regard to plants and increasing atmospheric CO2, the sugar content of plants may increase, making them less nutritious, and the rate of CO2 consumption by photosynthesis may level off and be outpaced by CO2 production by respiration.

11. dikranmarsupial says:

“The GWPF article claims that Lindzen said there has been no significant warming for 20 years,”

well at least that is slightly more reasonable that Lord Lawson’s claim that it had cooled over the last ten years! ;o)

“One reason why I think there is still a focus on climate science, rather than climate policy, is because the latter requires a reasonable acceptance of the former. “

I wonder whether it is more so that they can avoid discussing the socio-politico-economic concerns, because it means they will have to confront the fact that our western lifestyles are having a negative impact on those in the developing world. While you don’t accept the science, you can avoid accepting the consequences. I don’t feel exactly great about it myself.

12. angech says:

RE.
“For the major crops (wheat, rice, and maize) in tropical and temperate regions, climate change without adaptation is projected to negatively impact production for local temperature increases of 2°C or more above late-20th-century levels, although individual locations may benefit (medium confidence)“
So that by definition is a 3.5 C rise from 1850’s.
When , pray tell, did the IPCC predict we will hit 3.5 C?
The second comment is why do people tell porkies about CO2 and plants?
Either we accept that it is a natural part of plant growth or we bag it along the H2O lines
Dihydrogen monoxide:
is called “hydroxyl acid”, the substance is the major component of acid rain.
contributes to the “greenhouse effect”.
may cause severe burns.
is fatal if inhaled.
contributes to the erosion of our natural landscape.
accelerates corrosion and rusting of many metals.
may cause electrical failures and decreased effectiveness of automobile brakes.
has been found in excised tumors of terminal cancer patients.

13. AndyM says:

@angech: Have you ever wondered why the Atacama Desert is so bare, given there are the same CO2 levels there as elsewhere?

14. dikranmarsupial says:

“When , pray tell, did the IPCC predict we will hit 3.5 C?”

Right from the outset, e.g. Figure 9 of the first IPCC WG1 report (Policymakers summary, page xxii, assuming “business as usual” scenario). Did you not know that?

15. dikranmarsupial says:

By the end of the 21st century.

16. dikranmarsupial says:

Sorry, seem to be having difficulty with ambiguously worded sentences at the moment, but at least I managed not to be irritated by the egregious BS.

17. Tapani L. says:

The key word there is “local temperature”. Global land temperatures have risen around 1.5C since the 19th century and maybe 0.5C since the “late 20th century”. Would 1.5 degrees from today at least in some locations be that far fetched? Surely not. Often quoted IPCC global projections also include sea surface temperatures, which warm up slower.

18. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

The GWPF’s Annual Lecture:

19. ecoquant says:

@angech,

When , pray tell, did the IPCC predict we will hit 3.5 C?

There is non-zero probability mass on the +3.5C outcome. While that might not satisfy your definition of a “prediction”, in any serious forecasting, that’s about as good a projection as one’s likely to get. Whether or not it should be taken seriously as an outcome of concern, in the sense of statistical decision making, then depends upon losses associated with that outcome or, for that matter, higher.

20. Lindzen shows how Just-So stories can be used to attack a physical model just as they can be used to promote a model. He claims that the climate oscillates due to a steady uniform force, much like a violin oscillates when the steady force of a bow is drawn across its strings.

Perfect resonance forever.

21. Dave_Geologist says:

Conservative propagandists for the fossil fuel industry

I think, given Lawson’s political background, it’s more about being ultra-free-market, anti-regulation. He probably still thinks that the “Lawson Boom” when he was Chancellor was a good thing, and not the precursor to the inevitable bust which followed.

If you follow the actual money. in the US, as opposed to the “everybody-knows” money, you’ll see it’s a roll-call of rich conservatives, most of whom don’t get their money from oil and gas. IMHO they’re in it for the politics and the culture war. Even the Kochs don’t produce oil and gas, just market the products. Exxon were the last oil major to tail off their funding and that was back in 2008 (see Table S-7).

I know some of you think I’m always covering for the O&G industry, but if you want to win, you have to know your enemy. Otherwise you could ban political lobbying by O&G, have them pay a massive carbon tax and ban them from passing it on to consumers, then have to explain to bewildered voters why the think-tanks keep think-tanking, the drivers keep driving, the air-con keeps spinning and the temperature keeps rising. Then when you ask them to make sacrifices, they’ll say “fooled me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me”,

22. Dave_Geologist says:

It would be nice to know if Richard Lindzen agrees with that patently false headline

I ventured into the Lion’s Den. It’s bylined “Date: 13/10/18 Alison Bevege, Daily Mail”. So if challenged (which they could be if the conference was held by the Foundation not the Forum, as the Foundation is a not-for-profit which has to obey tighter rules than the Forum), they can say they’re just reporting press overage. Of course it’s ridiculous that they were allowed to keep the same acronym. It’s almost as if they’re trying to introduce confusion between the two, in the hope that people will mistake Forum propaganda for Foundation “information”, which has to be apolitical. Someone should have warned them about the potential confusion 😉 .

23. Dave_Geologist says:

With regard to plants and increasing atmospheric CO2, the sugar content of plants may increase, making them less nutritious

IIRC they also tend to get more fibrous or woody, with the same effect. Probably adaptations to (a) giving the seeds an extra food supply when they can afford it and (b) putting more resources into competing for light and space when they have more tissue-building capacity than they need for reproduction.

24. Dave_Geologist says:

Just a sampler for wheat. Which is an interesting one because the vast bulk of production is consumed locally, and there are only a few major suppliers to the international market. Hence a crop failure in one of the handful of major exporters spikes the world price. The failed harvest is dwarfed by domestic production elsewhere, but that’s not available to the international market because it’s already contacted to local millers. Egypt is very exposed because it imports about half its wheat and, as in much of the Middle East/Near East/North Africa, bread is seen almost as a human right, not a commodity you buy at a market price. So attempts to raise the price provoke bread riots (not new of course – think Ancient Rome and Bread and Circuses).

You probably don’t think of the UK as a wheat producer because we don’t export, but we supply 80% of our needs from domestic production and use the world market to peak-shave and for speciality wheats we can’t grow. A crop failure in a big, rich, mostly self-sufficient country or three will also spike the world market price, despite the fact that in normal years they’re neither big buyers nor big sellers. Which could lead to interesting political, moral and instability questions – what if Europe sucks up all the traded wheat so we can still enjoy our pizzas, but Egypt has to introduce bread rationing?

25. Dave said:

“Even the Kochs don’t produce oil and gas, just market the products.”

Sure they do, as much as anybody else in the production chain does. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pine_Bend_Refinery

If you don’t agree, then you are free to change the intro line on their Wikipedia page
“Koch Industries, Inc. /koʊk/ is an American multinational corporation based in Wichita, Kansas. Its subsidiaries are involved in the manufacturing, refining, and distribution of petroleum, …

26. ecoquant says:

@Dave_Geologist,

“Fibrous and woody” … Yeah, but except for old growth forests, with trees living hundreds of years, these are temporary repositories. This is why the cyclic modulation on Keeling. The long term store of Carbon in temperate forest is soil. And, from what I understand, that doesn’t establish well until old growth steady state comes in. The continuation of these processes depends upon these forests remaining undisturbed. A couple of more references, below and, if interested, highly recommend their referecences, transitively:

[1] K. A. Smith T. Ball F. Conen K. E. Dobbie J. Massheder A. Rey, “Exchange of greenhouse gases between soil and atmosphere: interactions of soil physical factors and biological processes”, European Journal of Soil Science, January 2018, 69, 10–20.

From above:

The release of CO2 from soil organic matter by heterotrophic respiration, and (where roots are present) the release by autotrophic root respiration, generally increase exponentially with temperature. The temperature response is usually expressed as a $Q_{10}$ value,

$Q_{10} = \frac{\text{respiration rate at}\,T+10}{\text{respiration rate at}\,T}$

where $T$ is the temperature in K.

Figure 1 shows the wide scatter of $Q_{10}$ values for the temperature response found in 16 studies reviewed by Raich & Schlesinger (1992). Many of the discrepancies may stem from simple differences in experimental procedure, e.g. making temperature measurements at different depths without taking account of the damping of the diurnal temperature cycle with depth (Figure 2). For example, Goulden et al. (1996), Moore et al. (1996) and Davidson et al. (1998) measured soil temperatures at 2, 5 and 10 cm depth, respectively, and found corresponding diurnal $Q_{10}$s for CO2 flux of 2.2, 2.7 and 4.2. Davidson et al. (1998) argued that the substantial differences between their own observed $Q_{10}$ and those published in the other projects might be at least partly explained by the decrease in diurnal variation in temperature with depth. They commented that ‘ideally, temperature dependence of CO2 production would be determined, both in field measurements and in models, for each soil horizon, rather than relating total soil CO2 efflux to the temperature of some arbitrarily chosen depth’. Xu & Qi (2001a) have related $Q_{10}$ measurements to temperature readings at various depths, in a pine plantation in the Sierra Nevada of California, and found an increase in $Q_{10}$ with increasing depth in the soil.

[2] A report of an experiment, which I believe I have cited elsewhere here before:

A. F. Talhelm, et al, “Elevated carbon dioxide and ozone alter productivity and ecosystem carbon content in northern temperate forests”, Global Change Biology (2014) 20, 2492–2504, doi: 10.1111/gcb.12564.

Abstract

Three young northern temperate forest communities in the north-central United States were exposed to factorial combinations of elevated carbon dioxide (CO2) and tropospheric ozone (O3) for 11 years. Here, we report results from an extensive sampling of plant biomass and soil conducted at the conclusion of the experiment that enabled us to estimate ecosystem carbon (C) content and cumulative net primary productivity (NPP). Elevated CO2 enhanced ecosystem C content by 11%, whereas elevated O3 decreased ecosystem C content by 9%. There was little variation in treatment effects on C content across communities and no meaningful interactions between CO2 and O3. Treatment effects on ecosystem C content resulted primarily from changes in the near-surface mineral soil and tree C, particularly differences in woody tissues. Excluding the mineral soil, cumulative NPP was a strong predictor of ecosystem C content ($r^{2} = 0.96$). Elevated CO2 enhanced cumulative NPP by 39%, a consequence of a 28% increase in canopy nitrogen (N) content ($g N m^{-2}$) and a 28% increase in N productivity (NPP/canopy N). In contrast, elevated O3 lowered NPP by 10% because of a 21% decrease in canopy N, but did not impact N productivity. Consequently, as the marginal impact of canopy N on NPP ([that is] ΔNPP/ΔN) decreased through time with further canopy development, the O3 effect on NPP dissipated. Within the mineral soil, there was less C in the top 0.1 m of soil under elevated O3 and less soil C from 0.1 to 0.2 m in depth under elevated CO2. Overall, these results suggest that elevated CO2 may create a sustained increase in NPP, whereas the long-term effect of elevated O3 on NPP will be smaller than expected. However, changes in soil C are not well-understood and limit our ability to predict changes in ecosystem C content.

[3] L. E. Nave, et al, “Reforestation can sequester two petagrams of carbon in US topsoils in a century”, PNAS, PNAS March 13, 2018 115 (11) 2776-2781.

Abstract

Soils are Earth’s largest terrestrial carbon (C) pool, and their responsiveness to land use and management make them appealing targets
for strategies to enhance C sequestration. Numerous studies have identified practices that increase soil C, but their inferences are often based on limited data extrapolated over large areas. Here, we combine 15,000 observations from two national-level databases with remote sensing information to address the impacts of reforestation on the sequestration of C in topsoils (uppermost mineral soil horizons). We quantify C stocks in cultivated, reforesting, and natural forest topsoils; rates of C accumulation in reforesting topsoils; and their contribution to the US forest C sink. Our results indicate that reforestation increases topsoil C storage, and that reforesting lands, currently occupying > $\text{500,000}\,\text{km}^{2}$ in the United States, will sequester a cumulative 1.3-2.1 Pg C within a century ($13 - 21\,T\,g\,C \centerdot y^{-1}$). Annually, these C gains constitute 10% of the US forest sector C sink and offset 1% of all US greenhouse gas emissions.

It is true net primary production in oceans and in forests has increased, as can be seen at two pages from NASA here and here.

Accordingly, in my view, and especially given that Smith, et al, is a 2018 review, there is little technical basis whatsoever for Lindzen or anyone to claim that NPP will just chug merrily along and this is just “all part of the show”. To do so demands an incredibly naive extrapolation of current NPP trends, which is, in my opinion, both climbing out on a rickety methodological limb and pretty ballsy, not to say hypocritical, when the source has loudly accused climate scientists of methodological malfeasance. Once again, the speaker is playing to an audience accustomed to listening to Their Favorite Authority, telling them what they would like to hear.

27. ecoquant says:

@Dave_Geologist,

I know some of you think I’m always covering for the O&G industry …

Well, I for one don’t, even if I don’t like how their funded organizations have treated climate scientists, the misleading yellow press, and, as I am a strong supporter of Woods Hole Oceanographic, I really didn’t like how BP treated WHOI.

I increasingly believe much of the impediment to progress is that people of middle-to-upper means don’t want to risk their comforts, their lifestyles, or their jobs. I do think energy companies — and utilities — know how to exploit this fear. And people don’t seem to care or act like they understand what circumstances mean for their kids and theirs.

28. Dave_Geologist says:

Paul, “producing e oil and gas” = drilling wells and putting them online. If you tax it at the wellhead, the Kochs get a free pass because they only refine and market. Yes, I knew they refine; they also have a biofuels business, does that make them greenies? If you tax it when it’s burned, who does what in the chain from subsurface to tailpipe is irrelevant. Just as the ultimate source of the CO2 is irrelevant. It’s harmless until it gets into the atmosphere. Tax it where it causes harm. Note that this doesn’t always = the consumer. A power station should be taxed at the smokestack. Walmart’s delivery trucks at the diesel pump. Jet fuel on the apron when the wing tanks are filled.

When people hear Big Oil they think about Exxon, Shell, BP, Total etc. Not the DeVos’s (they’re not even in O&G) or even the Kochs (AFAIK they don’t have gas-station forecourt visibility and most people see them as generic right-wing bogeymen, like the Barclay Brothers or Rupert Murdoch). Using it as code for rabid free-marketeers driven by political ideology misses the point. And puts off the evil day when we, as consumers, have to take responsibility for our own consumption.

29. Dave_Geologist says:

I really didn’t like how BP treated WHOI.

Interesting ecoquant. What did they do? (I genuinely don’t know.) And when?

Without going over old ground, my general point has been that most of the majors, including all the Europeans, pulled out of anti-AGW lobbying groups two decades ago (I know they’re still in the API, but that’s a vast organisation with hundreds of members, which you have to join to operate in the US, and its AGW lobbying is so trivial compared to others that it doesn’t even figure in the top several dozen misinformation purveyors). They do lobby for particular approaches to the problem. What kind of tax, how the burden should be shared, is there bad CO2 and less-bad CO2 that should be taxed differently. But that’s perfectly legitimate and no different from electric car-makers or wind-farms lobbying.

The idea that twenty years after they stopped funding disinformation and several IPCC reports later, the world is still grid-locked because of that historic action, and it’s all their fault and not the fault of those who’ve been active or inactive since the mid-1990s, is too ludicrous to entertain.

30. Dave said:

“When people hear Big Oil they think about Exxon, Shell, BP, Total etc. Not the DeVos’s (they’re not even in O&G) or even the Kochs (AFAIK they don’t have gas-station forecourt visibility “

You don’t happen to live in Minnesota. The monstrous Koch (Pine Bend) oil refinery is just south of the Twin Cities and can be seen from miles away, along with the massive plumes. At night it lights up the sky and people that fly in see it and ask about it. Everyone knows about the Kochs here and there connection to the oil industry.

31. ecoquant says:

@Dave_Geologist,

Interesting ecoquant. What did they do? (I genuinely don’t know.) And when?

WHOI, like many or any national lab, and particularly one with specialties in undersea robotics, marine geochemistry, and the like, offered their help to the U.S. government in the aftermath of the BP spill in the Gulf (through an NSF program established for such purposes), in order to ascertain flow, ultimate disposition of flow (and happening to do some excellent oceanography along the way). This included samples being escorted by U.S. Coastguardsmen with sidearms in order to protect their provenance. Despite providing a public service, BP still enjoined WHOI in a process of discovery during trials, which WHOI had to pay legal fees for at their own expense.

The rest is described in the Camilli, Bowen, Reddy, Seewald, and Yoerger opinion piece.

The idea that twenty years after they stopped funding disinformation and several IPCC reports later, the world is still grid-locked because of that historic action, and it’s all their fault and not the fault of those who’ve been active or inactive since the mid-1990s, is too ludicrous to entertain.

But, these corporations have never publicly and loudly acknowledged their role in this disinformation campaign, nor taken measures to make up for the harm they did.

What kind of tax, how the burden should be shared, is there bad CO2 and less-bad CO2 that should be taxed differently. But that’s perfectly legitimate and no different from electric car-makers or wind-farms lobbying.

It may not be different from that kind of lobbying. But the products of fossil fuel companies are intrinsically harmful, and EV makes and wind farms are not. DDT and 2,4,5-T, and dioxin each have their benefits in their own ways. But that doesn’t mean they are a net win.

32. Dave_Geologist says:

There are five million people in Minnesota Paul. About the same as in Scotland. I’m sure most of us are aware of the Grangemouth refinery, although I bet more think it’s still owned by BP than know Ineos bought it a decade or more ago. Strangely, the area around Grangemouth is Scotland’s UFO Central. But you only see them at night. You’d have thought the flare stacks you can see during the day would be a giveaway, but UFOlogists are a funny lot. But back to Koch, absent a retail forecourt presence, I doubt if the other 320 million Americans have much awareness of what they do. Apart from political funding.

33. BBD says:

Dave G

I think, given Lawson’s political background, it’s more about being ultra-free-market, anti-regulation.

I’d agree. He’s a rightwing ideologue, not an industry shill.

34. Before the GWPF lecture starts, Lindzen is introduced with the compliment that he is “considered the most distinguished living climate scientist on the planet”.

The higher the pedestal, the greater the fall.

35. ecoquant says:

Yeah, I still can’t understand the respect afforded him at the Lorenz-Charney symposium I attended at MIT.

Then again, while Lorenz did a lot of great things and knew a lot, his historical primary credit, that of recognizing and acknowledging the privacy of deterministic chaos in propagating uncertainty forward in forecasting is, in my opinion and after some examination, overblown. Numerical analysts knew about this decades if not centuries earlier. Lorenz deserves credit for appreciating it and emphasizing it, in the same way Efron did for the Bootstrap, and Wilson did for plate tectonics, but, AFAIK, unlike the latter two he never acknowledged the numerically analytical roots of his work, not explicitly. And these sure existed in the applied maths literature.

36. I get a sense that Lorenz gets a lot of credit just for saying certain behaviors are difficult to work out. It’s kind of a dead-end career-wise. For example, if you make progress and everything simplifies, someone would think your original statement was just deep-cover.

37. ecoquant says:

@Dave_Geologist,

I also think the campaigns waged by fossil fuel companies against 2009 cap and trade legislation in the U.S. deserves a special ignominy.

38. Dave_Geologist says:

Oops, sorry for the copy-past mess- I just meant to copy a blockquote 😦 .

ecoquant, name and shame please? The NYT article (that well known Tea Party mouthpiece 😉 ) rather suggests you’re making precisely the conflation I was talking about.

Why did cap and trade die? The short answer is that it was done in by the weak economy, the Wall Street meltdown, determined industry opposition and its own complexity.

OK so far.

Mr. Markey dished out a cornucopia of concessions and exemptions to coal companies, utilities, refiners, heavy industry and agribusinesses

Oops, no Big Oil (Koch is a bigger refiner than BP, which has always made most of its profits from production, not refining and marketing).

We also did a good job of showing that a bunch of big companies — Goldman Sachs, the oil companies, the big utilities — would get windfall profits because they’d been given free ration coupons.

Ah, so that’s why Big Oil didn’t oppose it – they’d have been net beneficiaries! Same flaw as the EU scheme then – grandfathered credits lock in past usage patterns.

Ms. Cantwell said that cap and trade had been discredited by the Wall Street crisis, the Enron scandal and the rocky start to a carbon credits trading system in Europe that has been subject to dizzying price fluctuations and widespread fraud.

39. Dave_Geologist says:

I haven’t done a history-of-science on Lorenz, and my introduction was indeed via an applied maths course (the logistic map) and book by a mathematician on the Mandelrot Set. But IMO deterministic chaos is vastly more than “certain behaviors are difficult to work out” (of course, for certain parameters values it’s not – the logistic map is another example where changes in the forcing can suppress chaos entirely or turn it into strict periodicity). To me, it’s as profound and counter-intuitive as relativity.

40. Dave_Geologist says:

On Lorenz vs. Lindzen, there’s a fundamental difference. AFAICS no-one in the physics, maths, meteorology or climatology community idolises Lorenz. They respect him, and give him credit for his legacy. Quite different.

Lindzen, OTOH, is not idolised or indeed much respected by his peers in his current area of activity. The Iris Effect was shot down as a homeostat by observations, decades ago and only a few years after he proposed it. Lukewarmers get excited whenever it turns up in a recent Google Scholar search. but read the paper and you’ll find it’s a minor tweak to get cloud feedback right, usually in the single-figure or low-tens of percent, often for only part of the globe. A global homeostat it’s not.

Lindzen is idolised by people who understand neither maths not physics, but like his conclusions for political, religious or socioeconomic reasons. The fact that their go-to scientist is regarded by his peers as something of a crank, shows how empty the denialist locker-room is. More evidence, if needed, that the 97% consensus is an under-estimate.

41. IMO, If instead of using as an example the so-called Lorenz equations, Lorenz had simply perturbed the accepted differential wave equations, progress would have been different. The reality is that behaviors are not strictly linear or strictly chaotic but occupy a middle ground due to second-order effects of the non-linear or time-dependent interactions.

I’ll give you some examples in other disciplines. Astrophysicists perturb orbital N-body equations to generate the Hill’s equations used to study planetary dynamics. Hydrologists perturb wave equations to generate the Mathieu equation used to study sloshing and wave breaking. Condensed matter physicists apply the Schrodinger equation to model everything from molecules to lattice topologies. The Schroedinger equation is essentially the Mathieu equation in a complex, i.e. quantum, representation.

Climate scientists such as Marston and Wettlaufer that have a condensed matter background are pursuing this angle. Better late than never.

As for Lindzen , he is still widely regarded for his work on atmospheric tides and QBO and has a high H-index for a climate scientist.

42. ecoquant says:

@Dave_Geologist,

(“ecoquant” == new name of “hypergeometric”, or Jan Galkowski)

There were ads taken out by fossil fuel companies against cap and trade in 2009. There’s a money trail story which appeared in CHANCE or Significance some place, and was featured on Years of Living Dangerously. (Don’t have time to look those up right now. Sorry.)

I, like Dr James Hansen and Prof Kevin Anderson and Dr David Suzuki, am no fan of cap and trade, even the California version. But it is a bit better than nothing, although not as good as a Carbon Tax, as long as the Carbon Tax is stiff enough and as long, as you say, the Tax is imposed upon the emitters rather than those sourcing the stuff.

43. ecoquant says:

@Dave_Geologist,

Yeah, on “chaos”, but it’s completely implicit in dynamical systems work, and chaotic systems aren’t even half of the interesting stuff, typically characterized by Lyapunov exponents.

And never mind completely ignoring the Russian contributions to the field …

See M. W. Hirsch, S. Smale, Differential Equations, Dynamical Systems, and Linear Algebra, Academic Press, 1974.

And that’s squarely in the Lorenz wheelhouse, even if Numerical Analysis ain’t.

By the way, Hirsch and Smale present a surprising and impassioned plea for ecological conservation based purely upon mathematical considerations in section 3 of their Chapter 12, which I find haunting:

The moral is clear: in the absence of comprehensive knowledge, a deliberate change in the ecology, even an apparently minor one, is a very risky proposition.

44. ecoquant says:

@Dave_Geologist,

Yeah, on “chaos”, but it’s completely implicit in dynamical systems work, and chaotic systems aren’t even half of the interesting stuff, typically characterized by Lyapunov exponents.

And never mind completely ignoring the Russian contributions to the field …

See M. W. Hirsch, S. Smale, Differential Equations, Dynamical Systems, and Linear Algebra, Academic Press, 1974.

And that’s squarely in the Lorenz wheelhouse, even if Numerical Analysis ain’t.

By the way, Hirsch and Smale present a surprising and impassioned plea for ecological conservation based purely upon mathematical considerations in section 3 of their Chapter 12, which I find haunting:

The moral is clear: in the absence of comprehensive knowledge, a deliberate change in the ecology, even an apparently minor one, is a very risky proposition.

45. This is a subtle argument, but here goes. The problem I’ve had with Lyapunov exponents is that you can’t determine the exponent from the data alone, but you need a model to derive the exponent from. Because the exponent is derived from running two trajectories of a model based on different initial conditions, this may be irrelevant if all you have is a single set of time-series data to work with. Another time series does not exist for the data, so how can you derive an exponent? And how would you verify that a specific model is applicable in the first place?

I would likely only apply Lyapunov analysis in the context of controlled experiments, where you can set up different controlled experiments and then fit a model to the observed trajectories. That precludes the largest natural climate behaviors that we know about (i.e. the usual suspects), as these are all singletons.

46. Dave_Geologist says:

Of course Lindzen did good work in the past Paul. Hence my “in his current area of activity”. So did Pauling before his Vitamin C crankery.

47. ecoquant says:

@WHUT Can you recover some of the model using the Sugihara, May, Deyle, et al trick?

48. That’s debatable whether Lindzen did outstanding work in the past. He is known for his research on atmospheric tides and on the QBO, but he was never able to connect the tides to QBO, which is now pretty obvious. Lindzen has always said that the tidal synchronization has to be exact and with the latest QBO data point, it matches asymptotically.

So Lindzen’s work was outstanding only via the second definition:

1. exceptionally good
2. remaining to be done

49. ecoquant, I don’t know the details of the Sugihara trick, but I am using a common forcing input for each geographic behavior analyzed. Agree that the difficulty is in determining causality.

50. ecoquant says:

@WHUT,

This is an oversimplification, but basically the convergent cross mapping trick is to pick a window length and cross correlate a windowed series with placements of the window lagged by $\tau$ in the series, and express the correlation result as a function of time. Naturally, it’s possible to use tapered windows of various kinds. This is based upon Takens Theorem and has the summary from Sugihara, et al (2012; see supplement), Science:

That’s taken from the R package rEDM which implements it.

51. ecoquant says:

@WHUT,

Just found this: There’s also a discussion about algorithms.

52. thanks.
One study gives some hope that this may be a promising path. Astudillo applied Takens to an ENSO time series. The claim is that it demonstrates that present values can be inferred from prior values, but what exactly the pattern is remains difficult to unravel

Astudillo, HF, R Abarca-del-Río, and FA Borotto. “Long-Term Potential Nonlinear Predictability of El Niño–La Niña Events.” Climate Dynamics, 2016, 1–11. There is a version on arXiv:1506.04066

published predictor:

53. Rolan says:

As someone who doesn’t accept the narrative of climate change as such (that is, I think we can see trends, but don’t accept the causes), I think there is still a way to work with people on policy issues.
1. Start small. I know that you guys think this is a future crisis that requires immediate action, that’s ok. Start with things that we can all agree on. Let’s reduce smog in the cities, work on capturing and using carbon for something helpful to us (perhaps fertilizer?). Once we establish some useful purpose for carbon, we can work to create carbon scrubbers and clean up the atmosphere (because there’s now a market for carbon).
2. I would suggest allowing some room for doubt. It sounds ridiculous to anyone who doesn’t know the science. At that point, it becomes more like a religious creed than anything reasonable. Let people doubt, engage with them and help them understand it. If you’re unwilling to do that and help change people’s minds in person, then I’d suggest you’re more interested in waving your arms in the air and complaining about how other people don’t agree with you. The easiest route is to allow for doubt and persuade where possible.
3. Listen to the reasons why people resist believing what you’re saying. I can almost guarantee it’s not because of the scientific arguments you’re making (people are accommodating of many things they don’t believe, so long as their impact on their life isn’t particularly big). If you find a way forward that doesn’t impact (or has a minimal impact) on the things people care about, they probably won’t care.
4. Start pushing for solutions that empower people to help at an individual level, not a governmental level. The governmental change will come if people feel invested in the movement. Find a way to make it profitable, and almost everyone will jump on board.
5. I don’t think that saving the planet’s ecosystem is worth destroying human civilization. As per points 3 & 4, work to put humanity first and save the world second. I understand that in your view saving the planet saves humanity (and in a sense, you’re right), but from where I’m sitting it sounds like humans are inconvenient and it wouldn’t hurt if a bunch died off.
6. Work to rein in the worst excesses of the climate change movement. If people are making doomsday predictions that don’t pan out, call them out on it.
7. Don’t rely on computerized climate models to convince people. I have nothing against computerized models, but unless the systems of the earth have been a) modeled properly and b) you have representative data about the earth’s temperatures, barometric pressures, etc. dating all the way back to the starting point, you’re going to have to create some approximations and assumptions. Those assumptions might be necessary because of a lack of data, but that doesn’t make them correct.
8. Acknowledge and highlight your assumptions. People have to know where you’re coming from, and what you’re basing your conclusions upon. Show them where your arguments are weak so that they can trust you in the places where your arguments are strong.
9. Understand that people see two sides of an argument, not all the nuances between different positions on either side. There’s probably more common ground than you think.
10. Stop making this about the moral character of people who disagree with you. That in itself will set off alarm bells and create resistance. Just because you’re not a religious zealot, doesn’t mean that you don’t sound like one.

In any case, those would be my suggestions for working with people who disagree with your premise. My guess is that the people who disagree with you are more concerned with your proposed methods than what you’re hoping to accomplish (assuming you’d like to stop or reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere). I would further guess that many of those people care more about freedom from government than the right to throw carbon freely into the atmosphere. If cars are really overpolluting, work to create filtration systems in vehicles. We don’t have to remove carbon from our economy to save the world, we might need to control the quantity to the best of our abilities. Governmental policies should be one aspect of the change that you’re seeking, market innovations and safeguarding individuals from *overbearing* regulations should be the other (more important) aspects. You are, after all, trying to get people on board, not beat them into submission.

54. ecoquant says:

@Rolan,

Sigh.

No one relies upon computerized climate models to verify the reality of climate change physics. Models are used because policymakers want to know how bad, when, and where.

The physics underlying climate change is simple: Law of Conservation of Energy, the Blackbody Effect, and radiative forcing from specific atmospheric species, notably Carbon Dioxide and water. Couple that with the Clausius-Clapeyron relation which indicates how much water you can have in atmosphere as temperature increases, and you have the setup for mean heat energy of the planet increasing as the atmosphere has greater concentration of CO2.

Is Blackbody wrong? No, it can’t be. Semiconductors could not be manufactured, so your cell phone and computer depend upon it. Moreover, satellites would not work either, because engineers could not design them so their energy balance, whether in direct sun or in night would work out.

Then take isotopic assays of atmospheric comparing ratios of 12C to 13C in that CO2 and note the dearth of 14C in the same, and you get direct evidence that the additional increment of CO2 is due to plants, but not recent plants, very old plants, hence from fossil fuels. Corroborate this with comparisons of trends in isotopes of 18O from the same. Corroborate again with estimates of emissions from fossil fuel combustion worldwide.

Then note the atmospheric and unbound oceanic lifetime of Carbon Dioxide, which is thousands of years, and you have delivered a Big Problem. It gets scrubbed by nature, but only on a timescale useless for human policy and planning.

Done. Who needs computerized climate models?

Never mind comparisons with paleoclimate records which corroborate.

Most of this has been known for 170 years. And the United States government has been briefed on this and its dangers for at least 50 years. It has done nothing. See below.

55. Joshua says:

Rolan –

5. I don’t think that saving the planet’s ecosystem is worth destroying human civilization.

I’m curious about this. What evidence do you see to suggest that “saving the planet’s ecosystem” would “destroy human civilization?”

How do you account for doubt when you assess that evidence?

56. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

I don’t think that saving the planet’s ecosystem is worth destroying human civilization.

Hilarious.

As if there would be a human civilization without the planet’s ecosystem.

That ‘thinking’ is weapons-grade denial, not only of climate science, but of reality.

57. Joshua says:

Jim –

Rolan is the only one on this site..

My suggestion, since you’re interested in promoting a real discussion, is that you focus on the content of arguments that people make, and avoid personalizing the discussion.

Otherwise, someone who didn’t know better might mistake your comment as the comment of a tr*ll.

58. Joshua says:

Hmmm. Blog is acting funny. Please delete my duplicate comment.

59. Jim,
I didn’t really see Rolan making much an argument. It seemed more to be a list of suggestions about what others should do, and a number of potentially strawman arguments. Maybe it’s worth considering that others aren’t necessarily doing what you think they’re doing, and taking some personal responsibility?

60. Ahh, okay, the comment times seems to have become confused.

61. ecoquant says:

That ‘thinking’ is weapons-grade denial, not only of climate science, but of reality.

I heartily concur. To quote the indigenous peoples statement, Whatever we do to Nature we do to ourselves, since we are part of Nature.

62. Dave_Geologist says:

It is also impossible to learn by refusing to listen.

63. Dave_Geologist says:

The timestamps and comment order seem to be getting mixed up – maybe something to do with summer/winter time change coming up? And different countries changing on different dates?

64. Jim Smith says:

Rolan is the only one on this site who makes a persuasive arguement – to stop arguing and have a real discussion. Intolerance of opposing opinions is much more harmful than CO2. It is impossible to learn by talking without listening.ba

65. Dave,
Yes, that may be what it is.

66. Marco says:

Rolan, I have a suggestion that does not involve government at all, reduces CO2 emissions, *and* saves you money. Let’s see what you say:

Eat less meat, in particular red meat. I’m not suggesting to become a vegan or vegetarian, just less meat overall. Replace red meat with chicken if you really must have meat (usually people also eat less chicken than red meat). Get everyone in your family to follow along.

Deal?

It is my experience that when I propose this bottom-up approach to reduce CO2 emissions, the “it’s too expensive to do anything!” and “eek! government!” arguments become irrelevant. Don’t you dare touch a man’s beef!

67. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

And – if you have not yet procreated a family – don’t.

Consuming red meat is nothin’ compared to pumping out more children.

Even vegetarian kids are a bad investment in the future. Just say no.

68. Rolam said:

“(people are accommodating of many things they don’t believe, so long as their impact on their life isn’t particularly big). If you find a way forward that doesn’t impact (or has a minimal impact) on the things people care about, they probably won’t care.”

You know what has a big impact on your day-to-day life? It’s the “no-regrets” buddy of AGW — Oil Depletion!

This policy might have been first popularly described by C.Boyden Gray, White House counsel n Foreign Policy No. 83 (Summer, 1991), pp. 47-65

A “No Regrets” Environmental Policy
A policy that would generate net social and/or economic benefits irrespective of whether or not anthropogenic climate change occurs

It’s also been described in the IPCC report since 2007.

69. Rolan says:

As far as I can tell, most of you guys are decently intelligent people who take this issue seriously. For a few of you, it looks like it’s your moral bugaboo, fair enough. It takes all kinds to accomplish a goal. If you want to make a difference in society and the world, don’t make the mistake of the Catholic church in demanding strict orthodoxy from everyone. You’re not going to get it, and then anyone who disagrees with you will automatically gain a political movement against your goal.

The thrust of what I’m saying is to look to the future, be aware of what you fear and work to avoid and/or mitigate the worst outcomes. If you focus on those who disagree with you, you will have almost zero impact and will end up frustrated that you can’t convince those doubters. That, of course, doesn’t mean ignore them, ostracize them or castigate them. It means find ways to work with them when and where you can, when you can’t then keep moving forward.

@Joshua, thanks for the thoughtful question.
I don’t think that saving the ecosystem will destroy human civilization, I’m more concerned about the methods used to do it. Do we suddenly restrict all our use of carbon fuels because we’ve noticed an impact on the environment that we can’t quite quantify, but have sufficient evidence to be concerned about trends?
This would effectively end our civilization as we know it. Long-haul transportation which brings us most of our food from around the world, working more than 10 km from your home, power usage both corporately and individually would be greatly diminished (with some positive and a long list of negative impacts). I think it would turn us into a power-rationing society which, considering that our technologies require power, would have a major impact not only on how we live today but how we develop a better future. Some have suggested not eating meat or not having children as ways to help save the planet. I would suggest that this is more detrimental to the advance of civilization as a whole than the carbon savings helps the planet. I have a greater faith in the ability of mankind to “science it up” and find innovative solutions to problems, than I do in believing that if we just don’t let carbon get to a certain point we’ll be OK. The new phrase is having a “growth mindset.” If we’re going to make new things and ways to stop “carbon pollution”, we’ll have to use a lot more carbon to do it, especially right now (we make pretty much everything from fossil fuels). So, should we restrict people trying to research ways of getting away from fossil fuels because they have an outsized carbon footprint? No. Why? Because they’re trying to solve the perceived problem. Should we stop having children in the west to stop carbon emissions? No, those are the people needed to research and innovate. Should we seek to reduce throw-away-buy-another consumerism? Absolutely.
Bottom line is that I think that humanity is more important than anything on this planet, and I give it a place of primacy. I also think that the best way to live on this planet is to preserve it, but I’m not so naive as to think that it’s a purely self-regulating system (or at least that the self-regulation gives any deference to us humans).
All of this is pointing back to the old saying “don’t make the cure worse than the disease”.
Civilization probably wouldn’t collapse if we stopped using oil in 20 years, but, unless massive changes occur, it would be hobbled to the point where I don’t think we could come up with useful solutions to our eco-problems.

@ecoquant I didn’t say verify climate change, I said convince people. I won’t pretend I know or understand the principles you outlined. Frankly, I have other areas of study that require my attention. But I’ll give you your point for the sake of argument. How “bad” it’s going to get matters, and so the accuracy of the models matter. Unless, of course, the point is just to say “it will be bad,” in which case I’d say “They’re not worth the computer clusters they run on.” Will it be worse, or just different than the status quo? I’m guessing to some extent it will depend on our values (or rather the way in which we’ve ordered our values). Is human flourishing the most important thing? If not, what is? To what extent is biodiversity tied to human flourishing? Should we try to preserve the planet as it is, or terraform it into something better and/or more stable?
Assuming the apocalypse is thwarted, we’ll then need to ask if CO2 is always bad, or if there are circumstances in which adding CO2 to the atmosphere could be beneficial (i.e. if an ice age were coming). Right now, all I’ve heard is panic from the political left and tepid concern from the political right. According to you guys, change is coming regardless, right? So, we as a society need to determine what we’re willing to sacrifice and what we’re not. The environment has or is in the process of taking a hit, so let’s hear about the pros and cons. I’ve heard quite a bit about how everything will be terrible if the earth heats up by 2 degrees Centigrade. I doubt that everything could be terrible, even if there’s more bad than good that could come of it. Maybe there’s research into beneficial aspects of the world heating, but I’ve yet to hear of any. So then either the apocalypse is coming, or there’s a culture among researchers to look at all the concerns they have with global warming and none of the benefits (Again, I assume there must be some). So, if the world is warming, let’s see some research concerning what we can do with a warmer planet (if it exists, I’d be interested in at least looking at a few abstracts in my spare time). If there’s not, then I think that would constitute a bias in the research (which is fair enough, considering people’s level of concern and the funding available for research in that area).

@Marco I’m not going to change my eating habits beyond health and age necessities (and what I choose to do). But your comment misses the point of what I was saying. You’re asking someone to change their lifestyle for the sake of something they don’t believe in, right? In that case, the point isn’t to “force” people to “do the right thing” or even challenge them to do things differently, but to give them something they’d rather have. I’m sure the “meat” growing industry will overtake ranching once they get things to taste right, be nutritious enough and cheap enough (which I’m guessing will happen in the next decade or so – talk about a market disruption!). That emerging industry is actually a pretty good example of not asking people to give something up for the greater good, and instead providing them with a better good. That it would help stem CO2 would be a boon to environmentalists and it would probably become a moral movement in itself, spearheaded by green peace and PETA (though, perhaps that’s not the best marketing strategy :P).

@WHUT you’re right, if we run out of oil right now, most of us die. It would be a pretty shitty world.
There are, of course, alternative sources of energy, but they aren’t consistent enough to provide the energy to a city, country, or civilization at present (maybe you can count on a desert having sun consistently, but that’s more the exception than the rule). Beyond that, the technology and/or infrastructure to store up energy isn’t developed enough for broad commercial use (to my knowledge, at least. If it is, let me know!). If we could harness lightning strikes, that would be a) awesome and b) a tremendous source of power, but would probably cause problems with a lack of ozone being generated or some such thing (probably more manageable than other sources of catastrophe).
I’m actually all for the development of alternative sources of energy. It doesn’t matter if we have enough oil to power our world for the next 100 years or the next millennium, eventually we will need other sources of power, period. The first person, or group of people, who can cobble together the right ideas, implementations and investments will not only have “saved the world”, but will be rich beyond their wildest dreams because it is a necessity going forward. So let’s get there. Frankly, I think we have a pretty good stopgap with nuclear power, maybe we’ll be able to create radioactive materials using extreme heat, or extreme exposure to the sun (I’m definitely not a physics buff, but I imagine there would be ways to manufacture this stuff given necessity and heat sources like magma and the sun). While we’re at it, why not try to harness the constant heat coming from volcanoes (when they’re not erupting, or course)? There’s a whole bunch of untapped potential, so find ways to tap it. Work to make fossil fuels the expensive type of energy. The universal adapter of power is being moved to electricity, instead of relying directly on fossil fuels (electric cars), so this is a great time to start finding interesting ways to exploit natural resources that don’t have a huge known impacts on the planet (of course, I’m saying this from your guys’ perspective).

I’m sure there’s plenty of ignorance in some of my comments (particularly on areas pertaining to physics), but I hope that doesn’t cause any of you to ignore what I’ve said as the ravings of an ignorant madman. Frankly, I know that I don’t know, but I’m also not willing to accept something simply because it is the predominant belief (heck, I probably have a bias against going along with the crowd). I think at this point in time, we have some good indicators showing trends happening on our planet. I’ll repeat what I said in my last post. I don’t think scientists know the causes as well as the IPCC purports they do, and I’m arguing from relative ignorance (and I’m skeptical about the breadth and validity of much of the data that starts in the late 1800s until the 1950s. Perhaps using data from the 1950s onward is sufficient to show/prove a trend, feel free to let me know).
My contention, if I did believe we were headed towards climate catastrophe, would be that we’d be better off by continuing to use our most effective tool, namely science, to innovate and create new things that remove the need for CO2 by providing something better, cheaper and/or cleaner, than relying on moral arguments and social ostracization.
Perhaps that’s already happening, in which case promote the successes. Build up hope that these things will be part of a solution to the CO2 issues of the world. Be patient with people, and have realistic goals you’d like to reach and tell people what the effects should be (if your goal is the effect, you’re doing it wrong). Validate your predictions, show that they’re right, and be humble when they’re wrong (also tell people why your predictions were wrong). The more you do that, the more trust you build with people.

Anyway, it’s late, and I’m sure that I’ve said more than enough to get my point across. Goodnight.

70. Marco says:

“You’re asking someone to change their lifestyle for the sake of something they don’t believe in, right?”

Yes and no. I’m mainly asking you to get your financial blinders off. If it were about “better” and “cheaper”, people would long ago have reduced their meat intake significantly. It is cheaper and healthier (hence, objectively better). That’s without taking into account the environmental benefits. But since some people apparently need their meat-fix (and thus your ‘better’ comes down to having your meat fix, at same/lower cost, but possibly lower environmental impact) is in reality a psychological barrier. It is my strong impression from most naysayers that it is this psychological barrier of “change” that irks them most. Change is scary, and even though it may be objectively better, it is scary, because it takes you out of your comfort zone. But no one dares to admit that, because everybody realizes these are not ‘rational’ arguments. So, people come up with arguments that at least have a veneer of rationality (“too expensive!”), even if their real objections are elsewhere.

What those same naysayers do not seem the realize is that their failure to propose their own solutions (and yes: even if you supposedly don’t believe in it, you should), means others will take the lead, and include solutions you possibly like least…or we may ultimately even be forced to take actions no one really wants, but there’s no other choice left.

71. When you start going in the direction of Rolan’s argument, one realizes the huge can of worms it opens. Climate change is the tip of an iceberg in terms of challenges that society faces.

Ugo Bardi posted this yesterday
Why is Overpopulation Ignored by the Media? The Reasons of a Historical Failure

Stuff happens whether we talk about it or not, or whether you believe in it or not. With the bulk of the population, the concerns only kick in when it hits their pocketbook. And if this is a gradual process, they may not even realize what is happening. Within the last century, the UK has gone through phases of overwhelming pollution, the rise and fall of domestic coal production, and the current rise and fall of North Sea oil production. So yes, actions are being taken and you may not even be aware of it, and despite the fact that these are actions a large fraction of the population don’t want.

72. ecoquant says:

@Rolan,

It’s not like picking a place to go to dinner, which is the tone advised in your response.

The key point is that emissions are effectively irreversible. Sure, there’s a PNAS report and study looking at and pricing negative emissions technology, something which has been covered by BBC and others. However, translating their optimistic estinates of $10-$100 per tonne CO2 (optimistic because it’s not been done and we don’t know how to don’t know how to do this at scale yet) into what is required to drop climate 200 ppm in atmosphere yields outrageously large cost numbers … Several multiples of Gross World Products. That’s not technical physics. That’s just arithmetic. And note — and this is something not indicated in much of the coverage of the report — these technologies don’t work unless emissions are zeroed in the first place.

It’s odd how climate models are disparaged as inaccurate or insufficient for planning but an unpriced and untested technology which offers a misleading pipe dream — and some may say moral hazard — to fix the mess is countenanced. And IT has an environmental impact, too!

Once irreversibility is accepted, then the question becomes what kind of uncontrolled global experiment do you — or we — want to do knowing full well that how bad it could get is unknown, that there is no probability it is going to be better than now, and the scientific hints we do have suggest it is likely to be much worse.

I have repeatedly heard the accusations of “alarmism”. Rather, I’d say, reactions to the changing of Earth’s energy balance are based upon quantitative appreciation for how hugely offset it is and will become in comparison with both offsets measured in the fossil record and, most assuredly, during the 5000 year period civilization has thrived. Adding energy to the climate system makes it, well, more energetic and let’s it hold more atmospheric water. Add enough energy and taps into naturally stored and sequestered Carbon will open, both exacerbating conditions and making the possibility of reverting all the more expensive.

Given that this has been presented to the U.S. and other governments for 50 years or more with no action, even when promises of concrete action have been made, suggests a political vehicle for fixing this is not effective. It is unlikely to even be popular. So who should I try to convince?

The last stand of the U.S. Constitution to “provide for the common defense” on this is in the courts, the best being Public Trust Doctrine as typified by Juliana v United States. I hope for everyone’s sake that wins.

Elsewise, the solutions that will be pursued will be extra- Constitutional and extra-governmental, with no particular public’s interest kept in mind, and no particular environment or impact regarded.

The wealthy won’t like it when their wealth begins to be lost.

73. Joshua says:

Rolan –

This would effectively end our civilization as we know it.

I think this (and the hypothetical that follows) is sub-obtimally dichotomous. “Restric[ing]all our use.” is a far cry from limiting our use or using alternatives ina vast configuration of degrees. Constructing such an either/or paradigm disables productive engagement, IMO – and I’d have to question whether it reflects, instead, an identity-protective, identity-aggressive orientation (ala hipppie-punching).

I think it would turn us into a power-rationing society which, considering that our technologies require power, would have a major impact not only on how we live today but how we develop a better future.

Again, there is a huge range for how “power-rationing” might play out (for example, to consider something towards the far end of the range, suppose Bezos and Bill Gates and the rest of the 10%, or even 1%, decided to devote all but 5 million of their personal wealth to providing energy resources to others)

Some have suggested not eating meat or not having children as ways to help save the planet. I would suggest that this is more detrimental to the advance of civilization as a whole than the carbon savings helps the planet.

Again, there is a wide range between not eating meat or not having children and reducing meat consumption and having less children. Eliminating the entire range in-between BAU and such extremes cannot possibly, IMO, lead to the kind of dialog you’re seeking.

I have a greater faith in the ability of mankind to “science it up” and find innovative solutions to problems, than I do in believing that if we just don’t let carbon get to a certain point we’ll be OK.

Why the dichotomy?

Bottom line is that I think that humanity is more important than anything on this planet, and I give it a place of primacy.

This suggests that despite trying to move in a different direction as you suggested above, you’re going back to the same starting premise that there is some kind of zero sum gain between addressing our environmental impact, and survival,.

I also think that the best way to live on this planet is to preserve it, but I’m not so naive as to think that it’s a purely self-regulating system (or at least that the self-regulation gives any deference to us humans).

I can’t really understand the point you’re making there.

Civilization probably wouldn’t collapse if we stopped using oil in 20 years, but, unless massive changes occur, it would be hobbled to the point where I don’t think we could come up with useful solutions to our eco-problems.

Stopped using oil in 20 years is at the far end of a vast spectrum of possibilities. Focusing on such an extreme, without placing it in context, seems unlikely to be useful to me. Likewise, it seems to me that even there, your conjecture about the impact of implementing such an extreme state, without really digging into the vast array of means to achieve that goal, seems sub-optimal.

As for this…

As far as I can tell, most of you guys are decently intelligent people who take this issue seriously. For a few of you, it looks like it’s your moral bugaboo, fair enough. It takes all kinds to accomplish a goal. If you want to make a difference in society and the world, don’t make the mistake of the Catholic church in demanding strict orthodoxy from everyone. You’re not going to get it, and then anyone who disagrees with you will automatically gain a political movement against your goal.

The thrust of what I’m saying is to look to the future, be aware of what you fear

Once again, I would recommend playing the ball, not the person.

74. ecoquant says:

@Rolan, @Joshua,

[by Joshua] Again, there is a huge range for how “power-rationing” might play out (for example, to consider something towards the far end of the range, suppose Bezos and Bill Gates and the rest of the 10%, or even 1%, decided to devote all but 5 million of their personal wealth to providing energy resources to others)

Well, there is the Schumpeterian magic hand, too. Eventually renewables, particularly distributed solar, will kill off fossil fuels and all their jobs, like it or not, simply because these and wind power (which is, after all, just another form of solar) are technologies, not energy sources. It can’t be stopped. It’s ultimately based upon software. With appropriate application of computing and software to microgrids and the like, large scale storage really isn’t necessary: It’s possibly to take expensive sips from the existing grid in the few times it’s needed.

Rather than serving as shills trying to protect fossil fuel companies and their allies, like utilities. they should be managing a reasonable transition. But, with some unspectacular exceptions, they won’t. But, without a great deal more support there is zero chance this transition will happen fast enough to offer alternative energy sources for decarbonization.

To this point regarding Bezos and Gates, someone recommended to me the idea that rather than all the green NGOs like Sierra and Greenpeace and such spending so much energy and money on politics, they should use these monies to throw solar on anything and everything that can host it, beginning with people who can’t get loans to do it or haven’t the income. I think that idea has legs, but the NGOs are loathe to pursue any such solution lest it mean their (political) influence diminishes. They don’t have an engineering mentality, and that’s a problem.

[by Rolan] I have a greater faith in the ability of mankind to “science it up” and find innovative solutions to problems, than I do in believing that if we just don’t let carbon get to a certain point we’ll be OK.

[by Joshua]Why the dichotomy?

I think it is ironic that there’s `faith in science’ on the one hand to deliver technological solutions, and not in its prognostics on outcomes from continuing to emit. It should be understood that there are, indeed, limitations on what science and technology can and cannot do. Capture of CO2 from the climate system is technically feasible, and there are prices on the engineering, even if the prices are 1000x higher than a ballpark where deployment at a scale that can matter is practically feasible, and assuming humankind gets off fossil fuels first.

But an effect of radiative forcing that cannot be reversed is the 90% of the excess thermal energy going into the oceans from that forcing, whether CO2 is drawn down or not. This heat will take 20,000 years or more to deplete once warming stops, and there is no science or technology known that can speed that up. It means a coral die-off, sea level rise, and, adding in acidification from excess atmospheric CO2, will affect primary protein productivity and possibly all productivity in oceans. Note the latter thing won’t be helped by sun-screening sulphuric aerosols, were those deployed.

By the way, that latent thermal energy is the reason why, even if emissions are zeroed, and atmospheric CO2 is drawn down, Earth won’t see appreciable cooling for hundreds if not a thousand years or more: That heat will slowly come out of the oceans and, in doing so, it’ll keep Earth warm. The aphorism is that wherever peoplekind decide to zero emissions is the climate they’ll continue to have for 1000 years or more (see Figure 1(b) of that article, and also see). We can keep it from getting worse, but we can no longer make it better.

And we’re at 490 ppm now, not 411. CH4 and other Carbon GHGs will decompose into CO2, and the forcing from N2O and when you add that all in, it’s 490 ppm:

That was in 2016.

75. BBD says:

It’s ultimately based upon software. With appropriate application of computing and software to microgrids and the like, large scale storage really isn’t necessary: It’s possibly to take expensive sips from the existing grid in the few times it’s needed.

If we look at the German data, they show that sustained windspeed lulls are indeed compensated by the existing availability of conventional FF generation sources. My point on the earlier thread is that this cannot be sustained in a future where a large part of the energy mix is W&S if we are to have a deep decarbonisation of electricity generation. For that, there needs to be a sufficiently large energy store to take over when a national-scale windspeed lull knocks down wind generation for days at a time.

76. ecoquant says:

@BBD,

(1) Solar (and, as mentioned above, that includes wind) needs to be built out over synoptic scales, and needs heavy deployment in oceans where there are nearly always breezes. This is because, then, these ranges will be bigger than most weather patterns.
(2) There is a great need for advanced computerized controls technology with forecasting at multiple scales, including of consumption.
(3) On demand efficiency measures are needed, and also appropriate allocation of resources and costs to power quality. Most advanced grids generate at a power quality matching the needs of their fussiest customers, whereas the rest of us can get along with much sloppier sources. There are also many reasons why buildings could be inherently more efficient, ranging from variable speed fans to big chillers.

A need for storage won’t go to zero, but it can be minimized. There’s also a big need for stripping utility-motivated restrictions from storage-as-a-business and its business models. If utilities don’t want to do net metering, why not let private companies buy, aggregate, and sell power?

77. ecoquant says:

By the way, assessments and wringing-of-hands based upon experiences with the current grid are often misplaces. Just look at energy in the U.S. from 2017:

That “conversion losses” branch of the Sankey is clearly something that needs to be dealt with, and is the strongest argument for both zero Carbon energies and decentralization.

78. BBD says:

(1) Solar (and, as mentioned above, that includes wind) needs to be built out over synoptic scales, and needs heavy deployment in oceans where there are nearly always breezes. This is because, then, these ranges will be bigger than most weather patterns.

It’s difficult to see how a capacity overbuild on the very large scale necessary to compensate for, say, a pan-European week-long windspeed lull in winter would be feasible. Physical footprint and economic constraints apply (significant annual curtailment vs full year operating costs).

(2) There is a great need for advanced computerized controls technology with forecasting at multiple scales, including of consumption.

I agree, but better forecasting doesn’t dispose of the problem of prolonged intermittency.

(3) On demand efficiency measures are needed, and also appropriate allocation of resources and costs to power quality. Most advanced grids generate at a power quality matching the needs of their fussiest customers, whereas the rest of us can get along with much sloppier sources. There are also many reasons why buildings could be inherently more efficient, ranging from variable speed fans to big chillers.

Again, I agree, but this is moot when the national supply is insufficient to meet national demand over a full week.

A need for storage won’t go to zero, but it can be minimized.

It seems more likely that the need for storage can only be slightly reduced by plausible efficiency and demand-side management over the next few decades, which leaves the storage problem still elephant-sized, IMO.

79. BBD says:

I should add that all this will take place against a background of significantly increased electricity demand as the necessary decarbonisation strategy of ‘electrify everything’ makes itself felt.

80. Joshua says:

Eco –

someone recommended to me the idea that rather than all the green NGOs like Sierra and Greenpeace and such spending so much energy and money on politics, they should use these monies to throw solar on anything and everything that can host it, beginning with people who can’t get loans to do it or haven’t the income.

I like it. And while it ain’t very probable, it might be quite a bit more probable than my 10% hypothetical, (but would also be fewer resources, made available by at least an order of magnitude).

It’s what makes the hand-wringing about “poor children in Africa if the hippies get their way” so disingenuous, IMO.

/soapbox

81. Joshua says:

… “wealth disparities were channeled to equalize…”…

82. We’re at ~ 411 ppm CO2 versus a pre-industrial of about 280 ppm.
Only if you stipulate a pre-industrial CO2-eq ppm is “490 CO2-eq ppm” germane.

83. National-grid-scale, days/weeks-long storage seems to short-circuit reason circuits for WWS enthusiasts.

Jacobson went off the deep end in assumptions about what hydro could backfill.

Or call it “synoptic scale” or massively-wide-area overbuild and transmission and interconnection capabilities that strain credulity, but it is doesn’t sound much cheaper or less daunting than the storage challenge.

Especially when you consider how the overbuild solutions simultaneously work to completely crush the economic return as all the overbuilt watts struggle to earn a competitive payback on their capital investment the rest of the time…

This is going to be very expensive, and we seem to be cowed into hesitating to simply state this.

84. ecoquant says:

@rustneversleeps,

Radiative forcing is radiative forcing. There wasn’t much excess N2O or CH2 back then either. Nor CFCs.

Possibly more aerosols, though, but these may have increased with coal.

85. ecoquant says:

@rustneversleeps,

Transitions usually are expensive and messy. The part I can’t stomach, though, is how capital losses ought to be covered because investors misjudged the pace of renewables or the need for renewables. They bought it. They tried to oppose it. They now own it. And they should lose.

86. “Forcing” is the “difference” relative to pre-industrial due to increased ghg(s). Not the current level of ghg(s).

So, again, 490 is only germane if you are comparing forcing due 411 versus 280 ppm relative to 490 versus xxx??? ppm…

As I understand it, there’s not much difference… Not enough to make a big deal about, anyway…

87. ecoquant says:

@rustneversleeps

$f_{r} = 5.35\,W\cdot{}m^{-2} \log{(\frac{C}{C_{0}})}$

1750 CO2 was 278 ppm.

$f_{r}(\text{411 ppm w.r.t. 278 ppm}) = 2.0\,W\cdot{}m^{-2}$

$f_{r}(\text(490 ppm w.r.t. 278 ppm) = 3.0\,W\cdot{}m^{-2}$

but what’s a watt per square meter between friends?

These are from the American Chemical Society.

After adding in negative forcings and the like, according to reviewed calculations by Steve Easterbrook, and correcting for the increase from $2.5\,W\cdot{}m^{-2}$ to $3.0\,W\cdot{}m^{-2}$, that means excess energy is about one petawatt. SteveE re-expresses that as a multiple of average power consumption in the world in 2010 and, again correcting for the chance, gets that for each watt consumed, about 20 watts (net) are forcing Earth, to one significant place.

88. BBD says:

This is going to be very expensive, and we seem to be cowed into hesitating to simply state this.

And it is a conversation that needs to be had.

89. ecoquant says:

@BBD,

Naw, I think we should phase out all price supports, encouragements, and restrictions on energy, except local safety ones (but including local zoning ones), including repealing the Natural Gas Act of 1938 (and of course all its amending legislation later), disallow fossil fuel inventories as counting as value on the books, and let the market decide.

Now that is a true libertarian solution,

90. BBD says:

Now that is a true libertarian solution

But not to the storage problem.

91. ecoquant says:

Why oughtn’t storage see the same price declines as PV and wind, and comparable Bass model diffision? Big customers will just have to contract for their own solutions. In the end the grid needs replacing and, given how things work in these economies, I see no way of doing that without bankrupting the present one. The grids aren’t the Internet.

92. The only serious large-scale, long-term storage options currently on offer are pumped hydro (and other gravitational/potential energy schemes) and (kinda, sorta) molten salts and other heat-based solutions. Leaving aside their unavoidable round-trip losses, can you at least give a nod that the blunt physics, mass and volume of these well-understood solutions probably aren’t going to falling in cost by 80% (or pick a number) anytime soon? (Even 8% would be stunning…)

Before we go to chemical batteries – which are nowhere near ready-for-prime-time currently – but can we at least get that nod before going on?

93. 278 ppm is not the pre-industrial CO2-eq baseline. That’s the CO2 baseline.

If you are going to boost the numerator by the non-CO2 gas concentrations, you need to do the same for the denominator in your equations above.

I am done on that particular discussion. It’s pretty simple, and the rest else follows from that fairly obvious point.

94. BBD says:

Why oughtn’t storage see the same price declines as PV and wind, and comparable Bass model diffision?

You are blurring the lines between batteries and Big Storage. Large scale civil engineering projects will always be expensive.So Big Storage will be expensive.

95. ecoquant says:

rustneversleeps says they are not interested further in the discussion, so I won’t bother “@”ing them.

The amount of CH4 in atmosphere has increased massively since 1750, increasing to 5 parts in 1998 for every 2 in 1750. N2O increased by 20% from 1750, and the flurocarbons, CFC-11, HFC-23, and CF-4 went from zero to 268 ppt (parts per trillion) by 1998, from zero to 14 ppt, and from 40 to 80 ppt, respectively. However,

L. K. Gohar, K. P. Shine, “Equivalent CO2 and its use in understanding the climate effects of increased greenhouse gas concentrations”, Weather, November 2007, 62(11), 307-311

specifically state on page 308 that:

The pre-industrial value for CO2e is 278 ppmv and does not need to include the pre-industrial concentrations of other gases. This is because, for any given RF, the CO2e indicates how much the CO2 concentration needs to change from its pre-industrial value to give the equivalent RF for a given year.

The article should be read for context, but I’m satisfied that my use of 278 ppmv above is adequate.

M. Meinshausen, et al, “The RCP greenhouse gas concentrations and their extensions from 1765 to 2300”, Climatic Change (2011) 109:213–241 [open access].

96. ecoquant says:

@BBD,

Perhaps I am, but you are suggesting I like the “Big” part of

You are blurring the lines between batteries and Big Storage. Large scale civil engineering projects will always be expensive.So Big Storage will be expensive.

What I fail to see is the need for any such Big Storage, and, by harnessing efficiencies, the future can do without them. Of course, because the transition won’t be planned, it’ll be rocky, including intermittent power, etc.

But already, because utilities like Eversource cannot reliably provide power, in southeast Massachusetts and metrowest Massachusetts, and on the Cape (where it might be, in part, National Grid) people of any means have invested in propane-powered backup generators. The utilities do not maintain their power lines adequately. Yes, I know, blah-blah-blah insufficient profit returns from Department of Public Utilities, etc. But what it is teaching people is to look for other sources of reliability.

97. Ok. Got it.

98. BBD says:

What I fail to see is the need for any such Big Storage

Given the data, I’m not clear why you say this.

99. So, are we getting the nod that PHES and thermal storage aren’t going to follow PV-like cost curves? Just checking before we move on to seeing what batteries might need to do to pick up the slack?

100. ecoquant says:

They are/do follow similar cost curves.

101. Gravity/PHES and thermal do? No, they haven’t/don’t…

102. ecoquant says:

I don’t know what PHES is, but, if it’s mechanical or something, of course they don’t. They aren’t a technology.

That’s why electrochemistry is the only way to win: Plummeting cost curves and massive scale-ups.

103. ecoquant says:

Oh, and, BTW, if the U.S. won’t, maybe China will.

104. ecoquant says:
105. That’s odd. The energy storage strategies that actually get deployed at scale aren’t anywhere on the chart above.

Oh, there they are in the full report at the link.

106. rust,
It turns out that if you consider all the anthropogenic forcings (CO2, short-lived GHGs, aerosols, land use, etc) then the change in forcing since 1750 is about the same as the change due to CO2 alone. So, you’re right that the the CO2-eq change is bigger than the CO2-only change, but the negative forcings (aerosols) roughly balance the non-CO2 GHG component.

107. BBD says:

I don’t know what PHES is

Really? Then maybe a little less certainty in you pronouncements would be a good idea, Eco.

Economies of scale do not apply strongly to civil engineering projects like PHES, so it will not fall in price like batteries have.

108. BBD says:

Rust

So, are we getting the nod that PHES and thermal storage aren’t going to follow PV-like cost curves? Just checking before we move on to seeing what batteries might need to do to pick up the slack?

What batteries would need to do would be to develop a miracle new technology capable of multi-thousand GWh storage at prices competitive with PHES…

In the interests of public safety, we should not hold our collective breath 🙂

Or bet the future of electricity supply stability on magick techz that do not exist and may never do so.

109. ecoquant says:

Really? Then maybe a little less certainty in you pronouncements would be a good idea, Eco.

I don’t see the need. Electronic circuitry, computer-controlled is always a technology that will dominate mechanical and hydro, because of dropping unit cost when mass produced, because software has zero marginal cost and updates are free, if applied to a flexible (Lego-type architectured) system, and because there is always a constellation of mutually-supportive, mutually-re-enforcing, and revenue-producing and -enhancing technologies and products which surround a large scale rollout of any such technologies.

Besides, cement production and use is a big contributor to greenhouse gas emissions as well.

110. BBD says:

Rust

That’s odd. The energy storage strategies that actually get deployed at scale aren’t anywhere on the chart above.

Oh, there they are in the full report at the link.

Lazard doesn’t do PHES:

Scope and Limitations

Emphasis on commercially applied, electrochemical energy storage technology

– Mechanical, gravity and thermal technologies are not analyzed

It’s all short-term stuff for peaker replacement, distribution and microgrid. It’s irrelevant to the long-term wind lull problem.

111. ecoquant says:

@BBD,

On the lull case — I forget where and when this was, although I know Ireland apparently had one of these once upon a time — was the location onshore or oceanic? Oceanic winds are more reliable, and is the reason why firms pursuing wind put up with the additional costs to do that. Was the generation balanced by a corresponding rollout of solar PV? There is evidence that wind generation and solar are anti-correlated in some if not many places? Understand PV would need local storage to cover overnight in a large case.

I would prefer to read a technical assessment or post-mortem of this rather than simple claims: How bad was it, what the architecture that was challenged by this, etc. Hearsay is pretty bad, and gets coupled into propaganda which utilities and others produce. There was, for instance, a spike in natural prices in Massachusetts last January which was associated with overdraw of natural gas during a cold snap. The utilities and allies claimed that renewables were useless during that, but if you examine the installed wind in Massachusetts, it overproduced during the period. The trouble is, there wasn’t enough of it to offset electricity and, of course, Massachusetts, like many places, relies upon explosive methane for heating in most homes. (Not ours.)

Similarly, the utilities and allies download fumbles, like the Labor Day instance where ISO-NE blew the day-ahead consumption forecast, had to draw on a big explosive methane plant, and found when they asked, it failed. So they had to go to the open market to buy.

So, I want an engineering analysis I can read and study before you do any farther on this wind lull business. Not in a trade magazine. Something comparable to IEEE.

112. ecoquant says:

And, as far as my side goes,

M. M. Miglietta, T. Huld, F. Monforti-Ferrario,
Local complementarity of wind and solar energy resources over Europe: An assessment study from a meteorological perspective”, Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, January 2017.

113. BBD says:

On the lull case — I forget where and when this was, although I know Ireland apparently had one of these once upon a time — was the location onshore or oceanic? Oceanic winds are more reliable, and is the reason why firms pursuing wind put up with the additional costs to do that. Was the generation balanced by a corresponding rollout of solar PV? There is evidence that wind generation and solar are anti-correlated in some if not many places? Understand PV would need local storage to cover overnight in a large case.

There was a pan-European wind lull from 15 – 21 October. This is how it showed up in the German electricity generation data.

As I have explained several times, the problem is exacerbated when it occurs in winter, when solar capacity is operating at very low output. This can be seen in the much worse wind lull that occurred between 15 – 25 Jan 2017. Yes, that is ten consecutive days with wind output virtually flatlined. As we can also see, solar output from the relatively large German capacity, was negligible and antiphased with demand peaks.

Oceanic winds are more reliable

As I understand it, the potential capacity of realistically accessible deep offshore is insufficient to the job of powering continental Europe during the winter months.

114. BBD says:

I don’t see the need.

I don’t see *any* evidence of any experimental battery technology promising to deliver multi-thousand GWh capacity. So again, I find myself questioning the basis for your certainty.

115. ecoquant says:

The need isn’t the battery. The need relates my doubt, without substantiation, for wind lulls being a serious issue. Sure, maybe if the turbines are poorly placed, out of ignorance of seasonal weather patterns, or without PV backup as indicate.

Otherwise “wind lull” is just an overblown rumor.

116. BBD says:

The need isn’t the battery. The need relates my doubt, without substantiation, for wind lulls being a serious issue.

You are now entering evidence denial territory.

117. ecoquant says:

@BBD,

No, this is pretty science-oriented and engineering forum. You know it. You’ve been here before. I’m asking for substantiation by technical references. Even Wikipedia does that.

If it’s not substantiated, it’s fluff. Don’t bother me (us?) with it

118. BBD says:

Wow. Denialism and an attempt to shut down the discussion because the unambiguous and unimpeachable evidence presented overturns your position. What’s wrong with the Fraunhofer data, Eco? Apart from its inconvenient content, that is. Why can’t we use it?

The entire German windfleet pretty much flatlined from 15 – 25 Jan 2017. Solar output was minimal. Germany was forced to power itself on FFs for ten straight days.

119. ecoquant says:

This is just about ten days? Really? From an emissions perspective, what’s wrong with dropping back to Combined Cycle Natural Gas for 10 damn days? Your comments made it seem like it was weeks or months.

120. BBD says:

You should read what I write more carefully.

A single day when national demand outstrips combined generation and storage capacity is a very serious problem. A week or more of this would be a national disaster.

Once again, you have avoided addressing a point I raised.

Why can’t we use the Fraunhofer data?

121. ecoquant says:

122. BBD says:

From an emissions perspective, what’s wrong with dropping back to Combined Cycle Natural Gas for 10 damn days?

A gas-fired reserve capacity sufficient to take over from a future, large-scale national wind fleet would need to be similar in size to that which exists today. This would mean that its fixed operating costs would be similar to those today. But the entire vast enterprise, with its unending burden of costs for its workforce and infrastructure, would somehow be expected to survive with only brief periods of intensive use and a very small revenue stream compared to the present. No business I am aware of can exist under these conditions.

With the gas infrastructure, you use it or lose it. And since this is all about emissions, we must lose it. So back to the hard problem of multi-day wind lulls, which we can see from the data do in fact exist and do severely impact national-scale windfleet output.

123. BBD says:

124. izen says:

@-BBD
“A single day when national demand outstrips combined generation and storage capacity is a very serious problem. A week or more of this would be a national disaster.”

Wind and solar also over-produce at other times, the supply outstrips the demand and wind or solar are turned off. Otherwise the electric power market sets a negative price for consumption, not a viable business model.

IF large scale storage was available in sufficient density at a low price then this over-production and intermittency from renewables would not be a problem. But PHES and batteries are far to low density to be useful at scale.

The problem will be solved by attacking the other end.
As you say, A single day when national demand outstrips supply is a very serious problem.
That will need to change. demand will need to be much more resilient. Local small scale solutions to short term intermitency will need to respond to brown-outs and short interruptions. AI directed manufacturing will need to adjust to the varying cost of electrical power from a grid which does not guarantee a full delivery of demand, but prices power according to availability.

It will make sense to have power-bank backup at the appliance and house level to adapt to a supply constrained grid. But the bottom line is that the physics and thermodynamics preclude making renewables capable of always filling full demand or avoid over-producing when demand falls.
So it is the demand that will have to adapt to the new realities of the supply.

125. BBD says:

Why can’t you use the Fraunhofer data, Eco?

126. BBD says:

It will make sense to have power-bank backup at the appliance and house level to adapt to a supply constrained grid.

This works for hours, but not for days, because it’s reliant on batteries, which deal in kWh (or MWh at scale) not GWh necessary to meet national demand. A demand expected to rise significantly (multiples of the present level) by mid-century as decarbonisation compels an ‘electrify everything’ policy. The problem of long-period windspeed lulls is that national-scale supply would fall *considerably* short of national-scale demand for days at a time.

There’s this constant confusion of scales – local vs national, hours vs days, MWh vs GWh.

127. BBD says:

Frauenhofer is a cherry-pick. There’s this response to an Australian critique

For goodness’ sake, Eco, the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems isn’t cherry-picking generation data. The fact that you are trying to rubbish an unimpeachable source (which is why I used it) is clear evidence of denialist tactics on your part. And that’s it. When one party resorts to evidence denial because they are losing an argument, the conversation ends.

128. BBD said
“What batteries would need to do would be to develop a miracle new technology capable of multi-thousand GWh storage at prices competitive with PHES…”

I appreciate the civil engineering effort that goes into this technology. When I visited Grande Dixence dam, which has the highest gravity head in the world at 285 meters, took this shot

Not everyone can do this kind of engineering without something going wrong … and something did go wrong in 2000

129. ecoquant says:

@BBD that’s just a link to their general site. You are relying it heavily. Courtesy suggests you provide a specific link.

Frankly, conclude, if you wish that renewables are a fantasy never to be seen, and that I’m a denier and anything you like. I don’t care. I have more impact upon things in 1 hour than you do in a week.

Enjoy. Rah, rah, Fraunhoffer is correct, I’m wrong! Hooray!!

130. BBD says:

@BBD that’s just a link to their general site. You are relying it heavily. Courtesy suggests you provide a specific link.

Okay, it’s possible there is a technical issue here. I have provided several specific links but perhaps they are not working.

Please try this and let me know what you got:

https://www.energy-charts.de/power.htm?week=3&year=2017&source=conventional

131. BBD says:

Enjoy. Rah, rah, Fraunhoffer is correct, I’m wrong! Hooray!!

I wouldn’t celebrate it, as it is very troubling, but yes.

132. BBD says:
133. BBD says:

Frankly, conclude, if you wish that renewables are a fantasy never to be seen, and that I’m a denier and anything you like. I don’t care. I have more impact upon things in 1 hour than you do in a week.

It’s great that you are active as you are, Eco. But it’s *not* great that you are denying the validity of data that you don’t like.

It’s also unfortunate that you are now misrepresenting my position. Maybe that could stop.

134. ecoquant says:

Damn robotrolls. They have the aptitude and ethics of a piece of coal.

135. I’m writing about wind power and have a section on Germany wind power in the forthcoming text Mathematical Geoenergy. Looking at what BBD posted is likely correct in terms of expected statistics. Wind follows a Rayleigh distribution of speeds which does allow the possibility of calm wind days. The new finding described in the text is that wind velocity distributions over a wider range extends from a Rayleigh distribution to a variant of the BesselK distribution. The latter incorporates a Maximum Entropy uncertainty on mean wind speeds over a large region. The calm wind day is always in the statistical mix, and it would be hard to explain if it wasn’t.

The intermittent nature of wind is definitely an issue and simply one that we will need to contend with. I refer to it as being predictable in its unpredictability.

136. BBD says:

I’m writing about wind power and have a section on Germany wind power in the forthcoming text Mathematical Geoenergy. Looking at what BBD posted is likely correct in terms of expected statistics.

Paul, could you confirm that this link works for you? I’d appreciate the double-check, and it may be a useful additional data source for your research:

https://www.energy-charts.de/ren_share.htm?year=2018&source=wind-share&period=weekly

137. BBD, In the past, I usually collected data on an hourly basis to build up the statistics.
This one is on a daily basis:
https://www.energy-charts.de/ren_share.htm?year=2018&source=wind-share&period=daily

What I would try to do is (1) get the raw data link and download the data, (2) transform that into a sorted rank histogram, (3) plot that on a semilog chart and it should be approximately a straight line corresponding to an exponential PDF with respect to energy. The intersection to zero energy will give the probability of being in the calm wind (lull) state.

138. BBD says:

For the sake of the discussion so far, I’m okay with the data provided by the German utilities (and collated by Fraunhofer) as-is. It is sufficient to show the effect of multi-day windspeed lulls on the output from the German wind fleet. This, I hope, is sufficient to place my argument on data-based foundations.

139. BBD says:

Damn robotrolls. They have the aptitude and ethics of a piece of coal.

From Fraunhofer.

Observational data are what they are.

140. ecoquant says:

@BBD,

Au contraire, the link at Fraunhofer says that not only are renewables feasible in every way, they are feasible without pumped storage, and they are cheaper than present energy if €100/ton of CO2 emissions price is imposed by 2030, essentially necessary for meeting the 2050 Germany goals anyway.

You are relying upon readers to be lazy, and not pursue links.

So that’s Fraunhofer’s study.

You kept saying Fraunhofer, Fraunhofer, Fraunhofer … I looked. Your claims are bupkis.

The Management chooses not to intervene, so, the slippery slope to Wattsup-domination is well in place! You can claim all the data you want. The Fraunhofer study assumes heavy-concrete pumped storage doesn’t increase from today. I’ve read it.

There’s storage, but not that kind. And the conclusion is that it’s entirely reasonable.

As I said. Fraunhofer proves it.

141. izen says:

@-BBD
“The problem of long-period windspeed lulls is that national-scale supply would fall *considerably* short of national-scale demand for days at a time.”

Multi-day wind lulls are about as frequent, and predictable as Atlantic hurricanes. (similar meso-scale weather systems).
But the underlying assumption you seem to work from is that national-scale demand is inelastic. That smart grids constraining demand (at the factory, house-hold, even appliance level) to match supply could lower ‘baseline’ demand. Factories (and households) could have contingencies plans for various levels of constrained supply so that there was a gradation of functionality between full demand met and close-down.

The other adaption would be declare a holiday during the wind lull, or reduced working hours for non-essential power use. I know this flies in the face of a core principle of current civilisation of maximise profitability or Grooowwth, but it is unlikely there is a technical solution so a social adaption is inevitable.
So it is the demand that will have to adapt to the new realities of the supply.

142. Dave_Geologist says:

As I understand it, the potential capacity of realistically accessible deep offshore is insufficient to the job of powering continental Europe during the winter months.

I did a rough-and-ready calculation based on the Beatrice offshore wind farm in Scotland (about 0.5 Gw installed capacity for £2.5 Bn; a N-S/E-W box around the near-field area in the EIS is about 100 sq km). I presume that the actual turbine footprint is smaller, but assume we need some elbow room around them. Ignoring things like intermittency, whether 0.5 Gw is peak or annual average, etc., you’d need about 1500 of them to replace the EU’s current generating capacity. At 100 sq km each, that would be 20% of the North Sea’s surface area. Physically possible, although probably unacceptable. OTOH you could substitute six for Hinckley Point C, for £15 Bn rather than HP-C’s probably optimistic £20 Bn. I see from Wiki a claim that HP-C’s projected wholesale electricity costs are about 50% higher than offshore wind, which looks quite credible given that these were actual bids from investors prepared to put their money where their mouth is, without French and Chinese State backing. I’m not saying don’t do nuclear, but the reasons for doing it have to be other than cost (e.g. baseload vs. intermittent). And on the other other hand, the EU already has the equivalent of 300 Beatrices (mostly onshore I presume), and there’s still plenty of room as that represents only about 0.5% if its land area. And has added more wind capacity in twelve years then it entire existing nuclear stock, and almost the same again in solar. Based on that build-out rate, we could replace the entire FF generating capacity within twenty years.

Obviously we won’t do exactly that, and one-size-fits-all is a straw man, but at least for the electricity sector, decarbonisation would seem to be a matter of willpower rather than technical feasibility. And perhaps even of willpower rather than cost (especially if you factor in a carbon tax).

143. Dave_Geologist says:

ecoquant, there’s some useful information on full-cycle carbon-footprint comparisons here. Current PV technology is surprisingly high as it relies on high-purity silicon. There’s a cost as well a a CO2e incentive to move away from that, as it’s essentially scaling up consumer-product engineering, where the silicon is a tiny part of the cost, to an industrial scale, where it’s not. Hydro is comparable to wind, even allowing for the concrete, and better than current PV. There are environmental concerns about (some) hydro schemes, but CO2 emissions from concrete manufacture is not one of them.

144. Dave_Geologist says:

I did a back-of-envelope calculation for the Cruachan scheme, 200,000 tonne dam, 0.5 Gw nameplate capacity, in operation since 1965. The CO2e payback time for the concrete is about three weeks if it displaces coal-fired, six weeks if it displaces gas-fired. Not an issue.

I do have working to show, but it triggers the automatic filter, presumably because it doesn’t look like natural language 😦 .

145. BBD says:

So that’s Fraunhofer’s study.

You kept saying Fraunhofer, Fraunhofer, Fraunhofer … I looked. Your claims are bupkis.

What I state is true and fully supported by the observational evidence which I have repeatedly provided. You are trying to twist this into a discussion of something I have not once referred to.

The Management chooses not to intervene, so, the slippery slope to Wattsup-domination is well in place!

That’s out of order, especially as you are still refusing to accept the valid observational evidence because you don’t like it.

You can claim all the data you want. The Fraunhofer study assumes heavy-concrete pumped storage doesn’t increase from today. I’ve read it.

There’s storage, but not that kind. And the conclusion is that it’s entirely reasonable.

The conclusion is not consistent with observations.

As I said. Fraunhofer proves it.

No, assumption-based modeling studies prove absolutely nothing, especially when their conclusions are at odds with observations.

One more thing. I’ve been here a lot longer than you – you might want to ask the Management where the name of this blog came from – so accusations of Wattsuppery from you are badly misjudged.

146. BBD says:

@izen

But the underlying assumption you seem to work from is that national-scale demand is inelastic.

Not at all. There is some elasticity, of course, but not nearly enough to cope with a multiday dropout of a national wind fleet that constitutes a significant fraction of the energy mix.

Especially in a future of greatly increased electricity demand resulting from an ‘electrify everything’ policy.

This is all pretty much self-evident, as is the effect of a multiday wind lull on the German wind fleet (link to observational evidence, again). It’s interesting just how unwilling some people are to admit this. I don’t speak only of here, I should say.

This is going to be a problem as soon as any serious attempt to move beyond nibbling around the edges of decarbonisation is made. It needs airing now, not in two or three decades, when it will be too late.

147. BBD says:

Ignoring things like intermittency, whether 0.5 Gw is peak or annual average, etc., you’d need about 1500 of them to replace the EU’s current generating capacity.

Really, you can’t do that. Assuming Beatrice follows the usual convention, the capacity will be nameplate, so you need to work at a capacity factor appropriate to that array – it might be about 40%.

148. Dave said:

“Current PV technology is surprisingly high as it relies on high-purity silicon. “

Please define what you mean by “high-purity silicon”. Do you mean single-crystal substrates largely devoid of defects? Do you mean polycrystalline or amorphous silicon (a-Si)? Just purity in terms of silicon with intrinsic n or p-type impurity levels?

149. Dave_Geologist says:

Paul, I mean what the (admittedly somewhat out-of-date) UK government report I linked to means. The technology of the European installed base as of 2004-2006. Which for PV will be a mix of tech, but expansion was so rapid it will mostly be recent. For hydro it will be mostly decades old, but since the assertion I was responding to was about making concrete, and that hasn’t changed much since the Caesar’s day, age shouldn’t matter. If they’ve done it properly, they should also have allowed for replacement time. How many PV arrays will still be operating with the original cells 50 years after installation? And how many will be operating at higher capacity, as some hydro is with the original concrete?

If you want chapter and verse, you can probably follow it up from my link. It’s dumbed down for MPs, but I presume there’s a technical report behind it.

150. Dave_Geologist says:

Really, you can’t do that

I can BBD, because I said up-front that it was a rough-and-ready calculation. I wanted to know whether, to a first approximation, you’d need to cover a tiny fraction of the North Sea (feasible), a large fraction (unfeasible), or several North Seas (physically impossible). The answer was number two. At 50% rather than 20%, the answer would still be number two. Although I was responding to a thread about putting them offshore to get a higher load factor. Is 40% an offshore number or an onshore number?

Onshore it would be a rough-and-ready 2.5% to supply all electricity from wind. Which would probably attract complaints given Europe’s dense population. And 6% definitely would. But of course I also said “one-size-fits-all is a straw man”. So if we’re only replacing FF, it would be 1.25%, or 3% with a 40% capacity factor. A tough sell perhaps, but we’re facing a tough problem.

151. BBD says:

I can BBD, because I said up-front that it was a rough-and-ready calculation.

We can do rough and ready with guesstimate capacity factors… 🙂

But didn’t intend to cause annoyance – rather to be clear that if you use a ballpark CF instead of nameplate it makes a big difference to the result. BTW ~40% is for offshore, not land. 25% is back of the envelope ready for land…

152. Dave, I’ve got a chapter on characterizing PV material in the book. The key takeaway in understanding the electrical properties of semiconductor solar cells in comparison to digital&analog devices is that PV cells have no speed requirements. This means that all the structural and defect traps that would normally slow down a transistor’s response time are much less relevant in a solar cell — and that’s why the manufacturers can use amorphous silicon as a PV material (and admitting their energy conversion inefficiencies). The transport response times show a hideously fat tail, which is what I quantify in a chapter via an extra level of stochastic interpretation with regard to the Fokker-Planck transport equations.

Also what many also do not understand is that the matrix in e.g. Lithium-ion battery technology is intentionally evolved to create a slow diffusive ion transport. This essentially promotes a gradual discharge profile without adding a resistive pathway. That contrasts to the problem with high capacity charge storage schemes such as ultra-capacitors, as they have a fast discharge profile as essentially all the charge wants to move at once. This is also explained in the text.

In the other thread on “why we do research”, DM claims I am being evasive in what I mean by stochastic determinism. It’s all fun mathematical physics 🙂

153. David Hodge says:

I’d like to thank ecoquant for those links above. Makes fascinating reading.

154. Dave_Geologist says:

Sorry if I sounded annoyed BBD. I was checking in at the end of a frustrating day (who said Sunday was the day of rest 😦 ).

Paul, I’m only going with what the report said. I expect they’d done their homework on the CO2e of what I presume, in those days, would have been polycrystalline rather than amorphous or single-crystal, as they mention future reductions on footprint from thin film. I’m a layman when it comes to PV so don’t track exactly where on the technology ladder we currently stand. Of course, the energy conversion efficiency has to be factored in when considering the manufacturing emissions, as well as service life and deterioration over time, if any.

As I’ve said elsewhere, I’m all for not making the perfect the enemy of the good. We shouldn’t fetishize the lowest CO2e/kWh when we’re still talking an order of magnitude or more vs. FF. In the real world costs matter, not just for the utilities but for public acceptance of AGW-minimisation measures and green levies on their monthly bills. By all means go with 50 gCO2e/kWh rather than 25 if it lets you replace coal at 1000 or gas at 500, several times faster for the same financial outlay.

155. dikranmarsupial says:

“In the other thread on “why we do research”, DM claims I am being evasive in what I mean by stochastic determinism. It’s all fun mathematical physics 🙂”

On the contrary, I find this sort of rhetorical game playing rather tedious.

156. dikranmarsupial says:

This is PP’s usage of the phrase “stochastic determinism”:

Or some behavior that is asserted to be statistical, when other potential deterministic factors have not been ruled out. I see many research papers, if not theses, that make this claim.

Nope, I can’t see it either.

157. Dave_Geologist says:

BBD, businesses do “survive with only brief periods of intensive use and a very small revenue stream compared to the present. No business I am aware of can exist under these conditions”. Or at least, they do if you take away the “very small revenue stream” part. You’d be surprised what corporations and investors will take on if the price is right. The entire North Sea gas business operated on that basis when I worked there in the 1990s. It mainly covered demand intermittency rather than supply intermittency, but the principle is the same: offer the right price, and they shall build.

The standard contract for selling into the national grid had a swing factor of 1.67. You had an annual contracted volume which was divided by 365, and on any given day you had to supply up to 1.67 times that on demand. IOW a load factor of 60%. In practice most fields operated at 50%, because there were severe penalties for failing to deliver. Shortfall: you lose that gas from the contact and can’t produce or sell it until the contract ends, perhaps decades hence, so its NPV drops to near zero. And you have to buy the missing gas for your customer, and often pay a 100% penalty as well, so you lose out threefold. If the buyer can persuade a Court or Special Master that you’d been negligent (for a broad definition of negligence that includes under-investment, poor maintenance routines etc.), it’s Supershortfall and you could be penalised up to tenfold.

V-Fields was a complex of half-a-dozen fields with complementary characteristics (baseload; swing; swing but subject to water coning so needed to be rested each summer to allow the water to slump back down) and a dozen owners, which had a swing factor of 2.25 (but unusually has a reduced swing in summer to allow the water-coning fields to rest). Again there would have been some redundancy, so it will have operated with a load factor of less than 40%. But the swing fields will have been below 20% (they comes closer to wind power, in that the water-coning fields couldn’t operate year-round and needed substantial downtime). There was complex inter-company and inter-field accounting behind the scenes. It was like herding cats at times, but it worked and IIRC we never had a shortfall during my involvement. BP’s Villages fields were similar, but with a simpler ownership structure.

Sean field was a dedicated peak-shaver that was contracted for only 60 days a year, i.e. about 15% load factor. Yet its owners installed two offshore platforms and drilled twenty wells. It not only got a high price for its gas, but was paid a standing charge in the £10M’s p.a. just to be available. The buyer/distributor operated its own pumped gas storage field, and a conventional field which it used for a mix of baseload and peak-shaving. IOW it consciously under-utilised its investment, to retain capacity for winter peaks.

In the UK these sort of contracts date back to the 1960s, and were no doubt copied from other countries. Utilities and their suppliers are very used to that sort of thing. Why so many different ways to handle fluctuating demand? Redundancy and multiple rather than single points of failure (if a terminal or gathering-platform goes down, you could lose you swing field as well as your baseload field). Also, In the early days, it was not obvious which solutions would be robust in the long term. How many times can you cycle your pumped-storage reservoir without sanding? Will your big peak-shaver cone water (no), or will the gas-water contact rise (yes), but will you be able to work over the well and shut off the water (yes, but at the cost of reduced productivity, so down the line, you’ll need to add offshore compression).

So just as I expect will be the case with renewables in future, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Probably not even within a single country. I do wonder if the cost of demand-responsiveness is built into some calculations though. If you want a CCGT to be last in the queue and operate at a low load factor, you have to pay the owner more than you’re paying the wind-farm owner.

158. Here is an example of an (assertion/suggestion) that a significant climate behavior is due to natural random variations:

“Modeling the ENSO continuum using multivariate red noise”
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/258776603_Modeling_the_ENSO_continuum_using_multivariate_red_noise

If ENSO is red noise, this means that there is a limit to predictability. It would be as if all tidal forecasts were fuzzy with timing of high tides and low tides given as probability measures. The issue is that ENSO may be as predictable as tides, just that humans do not know what the underlying pattern is yet.

159. dikranmarsupial says:

Note the evasion. PP does not acknowledge his substitution of “stochastic determinism” for the terminology that was actually causing ambiguity. Ironic huh.

Also “Modeling the ENSO continuum using multivariate red noise” is not asserting that ENSO is random.

160. Dave_Geologist says:

But Paul, all tidal forecasts are fuzzy. And if you’re in a business like offshore oil and gas, where the precise timing and height of tides can matter a lot for certain operations, these things are given as probability measures. I’ve used forecasts from our processional provider to plan coastal field trips a month or two in advance. I always got an update just before we left (it had changed), and if it was critical to getting on or off a beach, always allowed some leeway in the prediction and if necessary posted an observer. As well as the obvious interactions with wind and barometric pressure, you can get complex interactions between tidal currents, standing waves etc., in a complex coastline with offshore islands. Either side of the Pentland Firth in northern Scotland, there are places 100 miles apart where the tide is almost in antiphase.

Fun fact – I’ve been on a drilling ship (top speed six or eight knots) which as one point was going backwards while transiting the Pentland Firth against the tidal current..

161. Dave said:

“But Paul, all tidal forecasts are fuzzy.”

Could you give an example of where the timing of a high or low tide is given as a probability measure? I know that the sunset/sunrise forecasts are given to the minute, but of course that will not be correct in a practical sense if you happen to be sitting in a valley surrounded by mountains.

162. Dave_Geologist says:

Predictions from professional services working for industry Paul, fed to end users through the company’s survey/marine division. Whether our people added a plus/minus based on experience, or the metocean providers do a bespoke error bar each time, I don’t know. I was only an occasional user and took a shut-up-and-calculate attitude. Stuff you can look up on the internet – I would presume not. If you’re out for a stroll or sailing a dinghy, you can’t generally control your own timing enough to care. If you’re running a conductor and can only operate in a narrow window around slack water, it matters. IIRC, in the run-up to critical operations they had a tidal monitor on the platform, which could feed information to the metocean provider so they could refine their forecast. If you’re leading a coastal field trip, at least under my former employer, HSE rules require you not to use public sources for other than the most provisional planning, and to get an update from our provider before you set off. IIRC you had to really twist their arms to sign of on more more than about two weeks notice, because they wanted to know what the North Atlantic was up to.

And forecasts can and do change as the metocean provider gets more information nearer the time (for example, the recent flip from an Atlantic depression and southwesterlies to a northerly airflow). The astronomical forcing is not uncertain, but the North Sea is a bathtub which empties and fills twice a day through three plugholes. Of which only two go to the Atlantic; one goes to the Norwegian Sea, which is much smaller and on the same longitude, so only the Atlantic matters in practice. To complicate matters, IIRC there is net southward transport within the North Sea most of the time, not just to-and-fro.

163. Dave_Geologist says:

If you want to see how far tide times can depart from astronomical Paul, look up Lybster and Thurso, both in the north of Scotland, then see how far apart they are on a map. Or, farther south and further apart, Brighton and Grimsby. You can of course record a run of lead or lag times and apply the average, but I’ll bet you’d find that the standard deviation on that average lead or lag is more than a minute. And for somewhere without a long tidal record, you’ll need a model, whether simple interpolation or something more sophisticated.

164. Here is another example:

Chaotic dynamics versus stochastic processes in El Niño-Southern Oscillation in coupled ocean-atmosphere models

“The nonlinear time series analysis also implies that stochastic processes rather than chaotic dynamics are likely to be a major source of ENSO irregularity in reality.”

ENSO has explanations that can be cast as (1) chaotically unpredictable (2) stochastic (3) deterministically predictable. There could be explanations that are a combination of these as well, for example, a stochastic resonance may be a combination of (2) and (3).

Stochastic Parameterization and El Niño–Southern Oscillation

“Stochastic perturbations may also result in “stochastic resonance”: stochastic perturbations with a broad frequency spectrum can amplify oscillatory modes in the climate system, through the climate oscillation resonating with the noise at its own characteristic frequency”

Or it can be a combination of (1) and (2), stochastic noise triggering chaos:
Noise-induced chaos in non-linear dynamics of El Niños

“It is revealed that in the presence of noise, transformations of regular oscillations into chaotic ones are observed.”

The research literature remains evasive.

165. dikranmarsupial says:

more evasion of the substitution of “stochastic determinism” for the actual terminology that was criticized is just digging the hole deeper.

166. BBD says:

Dave

BBD, businesses do “survive with only brief periods of intensive use and a very small revenue stream compared to the present. No business I am aware of can exist under these conditions”. Or at least, they do if you take away the “very small revenue stream” part.

It’s interesting to note in the Fraunhofer study that the average size of gas capacity in each of the modelling scenarios was a surprisingly substantial 90GW. I suppose the economics could be made to work, but only by paying the fixed operating costs for the industry as a tariff on every energy bill. And people think energy is expensive now…

This also bears right back to my original point – keeping the show on the road with a substantial gas component in the energy mix is not and never will be deep decarbonisation. So it’s the wrong policy path.

167. Dave said:

“If you want to see how far tide times can depart from astronomical Paul, look up Lybster and Thurso, both in the north of Scotland, then see how far apart they are on a map. Or, farther south and further apart, Brighton and Grimsby. You can of course record a run of lead or lag times and apply the average, but I’ll bet you’d find that the standard deviation on that average lead or lag is more than a minute. And for somewhere without a long tidal record, you’ll need a model, whether simple interpolation or something more sophisticated.”

So it’s an symmetric uncertainty on the measured value (wrt lead & lag), not a bias on the most likely or expected value ? The latter is the deterministic part.

I think it’s well understood that regional tide tables are trained on the local data and are known to be accurate https://www.ntslf.org/about-tides/tides-faq. This seems straightforward to me, but I may be missing something. Can you find an example of a histogram showing the binned values of tide times relative to predicted times? I couldn’t find one for tides but there are thousands of histograms for wind speed, which is the stochastic process we are comparing against.

168. Dave_Geologist says:

So it’s an symmetric uncertainty on the measured value (wrt lead & lag), not a bias on the most likely or expected value ? The latter is the deterministic part.

Mostly. Of course once you have a hundred years of records, you have a good handle on the bias and any uncertainty (which may be measurement related, but may also be due to a storm or a depression passing over). But if you’re in a place without a lengthy record, which will normally be the case if you’ve just installed a platform in the middle of the North Sea, or are leading a field party into a bay which never had a port or jetty, you don’t have even one measurement of the bias. In that case, you need some sort of model for the deterministic part. It’s not my field so I’ve never researched how its done. Interpolation is obvious, but on an indented coastline with nearshore islands, there will be complex interactions with shoreline shape and bathymetry, I expect interpolation could go badly wrong. If you have characteristic weather patterns, it may not be symmetric. I’m thinking of a westerly which drives water through the Pentland Firth with and against the tide depending on phase, reversed for an easterly. I have a vague recollection of recreational sailors telling me that you couldn’t be sure between passages which way a tidal current would run between certain islands, presumably due to interaction with weather and other currents. That could be chaotic, or could be deterministic and predictable if we had 100,000 measurements we don’t have, and a handy supercomputer.

You could say that these factors, like storm surges, are modifications to the astronomical tides, and the latter are highly reliable and predictable. But people don’t care about the tide they would have got in the absence of ocean, atmosphere and bathymetry. They care about the one they actually got.

This Is focused on storm surge height relative to normal tides, but you can see from Figure 3 that there is a timing shift as well. They seem to use an interpolation method based on the response to historic storms. Clearly, smaller storms will have smaller wind speeds, lesser drops in barometric pressure and smaller impacts, but the principle is the same. I expect that our provider’s reticence was because they’d make a different prediction of the actual high tide, as opposed to the purely astronomical component, if they expected no depression, a depression west of Orkney, or a depression east of Orkney. Here is a UK offshore one, focused on tide height which appears to use a similar methodology. Obviously the literature is focused on big storm surges which break things and kill people, but big fleas have little fleas on their backs, etc., and while at some point the impact of milder weather will be so small as to make less than a minute or a centimetre difference, it will never go to zero.

169. Dave_Geologist says:

I’m probably a bit more optimistic BBD, but maybe I’m the optimistic type 😉 . I’ll bet if I went to a library I’d find 1960s newspaper articles worried about the lights going out when we changed from a system of distributed coal-gasification plants to one with a few offshore gas fields and a handful of terminals. They didn’t. Partly because the old Gas Board produced the Rough Field then used it for pumped storage, at a net cost and a net drain on the network (I presume they ran GT compressors using their own gas from the grid). And chose to run their Morecambe field at less than full capacity. And paid Sean tens of millions a year to be on standby. And struck contracts where the more spare capacity you were prepared to install (implicit in accepting more swing), the higher the unit price you were paid. And sold interruptible contracts to industrial customers. Nobody heard or cared about that stuff because it wasn’t itemised in their bills. They still paid for it though. They heard about the interruptible contracts when a hospital was stupid enough t buy one, and it made the news when they were threatened with interruption.

170. Dave, the actual tides are the astronomical tides. Formal tidal analysis is not allowed to use constituent factors other than those precisely matched to the astronomical periods. That’s been known since the 1920’s. Yet, the weighting of these constituent factors is allowed to vary and that’s what’s used during the training.

“It’s not my field so I’ve never researched how its done.”

I’ve done it myself, not that difficult. For 15 days worth of training data, this is how close I can get for the ensuing 15 days:

171. Dave_Geologist says:

If I’m on a beach Paul, high tide is when the water comes farthest up the beach, not when the Sun and Moon are in a particular alignment. And if I’m landing a jack-up rig somewhere there’s never been a tide meter, I need a model. Call it (tides plus weather) if you like. In my business it was called (tides). But enough from me, let’s not get sidetracked away from the thread topic.

172. ” It’s not my field so I’ve never researched how its done.”

What it takes to construct and solve climate models is not something that everyone appreciates. How many know that the basis of all numerical atmospheric and oceanic climate models are the set of Laplace’s Tidal Equations? The solution to ocean tides happens to be complicated at specific latitudes and longitudes but the well-founded properties of a linear forced response allows a trivial tuning of the set of harmonic constituents to make it predictable.

“But enough from me, let’s not get sidetracked away from the thread topic.”

This is all connected to the top-level post topic of Richard Lindzen as he claimed victory on solving the mechanisms behind his pet research topic of QBO all the way back in 1974. Here is Lindzen writing in the third person in his review paper “On the Development of the Theory of the QBO” in 1987:

“Following Holton and Lindzen (1972), I concluded that there was little point in refining the theory of the QBO until we had a better handle on the nature and generation of the
upward-propagating waves, as well as some observational details of the wave-mean-flow interaction. An observationally based attempt in this direction is described in Lindzen and Tsay (1974). That was my last direct contribution to the study of the QBO. Although my interest in the subject has remained, my familiarity with subsequent developments has been more limited. “

This research and his work on atmospheric tides is how Lindzen made a name for himself in the climate field and why the GWPF makes him their skeptic poster child. Yet, I have to wonder what happens when Lindzen’s theory gets rejected. By 1974, Lindzen only had 20 years of data to rule out all possible mechanisms behind the QBO cycle, but now with 44 more years of data it’s clear that the tidal forcing does indeed synchronize the QBO behavior. The last QBO sign reversal reported places the mean period at 2.37 years, which is precisely the cycle required to maintain the expected long-period lunar forcing. The story of Lindzen is fascinating because he may have come close, having said this:

“it is unlikely that lunar periods can be produced by anything other than the lunar tidal potential”

Lindzen never properly rejected the null hypothesis before declaring victory.

173. Here is a recent ARXIV paper on superstatistics of wind speed, with featured results on Germany

“Wind Power Persistence is Governed by Superstatistics”
https://arxiv.org/pdf/1810.06391.pdf

“Mitigating climate change demands a transition towards renewable electricity generation, with wind power being a particularly promising technology. Long periods either of high or of low wind therefore essentially define the necessary amount of storage to balance the power system. While the general statistics of wind velocities have been studied extensively, persistence (waiting) time statistics of wind is far from well understood. Here, we investigate the statistics of both high- and low-wind persistence. We find heavy tails that are explained as a superposition of different wind conditions, leading to q-exponential distributions. Persistent wind conditions are neither necessarily linked to stationary atmospheric circulation patterns nor to recurring individual weather types but may emerge as a combination of multiple weather types and circulation patterns. Understanding wind persistence statistics may help to ensure a reliable and economically feasible future energy supply system based on 100% renewable energy.”

Superstatistics is a simple concept.

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