Focusing too heavily on public mobilization and exposing denial?

I found an article by Matt Nisbet called The IPCC Report is a Wake Up Call for Scholars, Advocates, and Philanthropists. The underlying message in the article is

We have focused too heavily on public mobilization and exposing denial, ignoring other strategies likely to accelerate societal change.

The basic argument is that we’ve spent a lot of money trying to moblise people and exposing, and trying to understand, climate science denial and little has happened. It’s time to try something different.

Although I think it’s always worth thinking about how to do better, I typically find myself irritated by these kind of articles. One problem I have is that it’s never entirely clear quite what the alternative really is. This article points out that once alternatives to fossil fuels become cheap enough, the political motivation to delay action would subside. It also discusses how we could develop, and implement, carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies that would allow us to continue using fossil fuels. Well, yes, these are both probably true (although CCS may prove very difficult). However, how does this take into account that if we want to avoid some of the more severe impacts of anthropogenically-driven climate change we need to start reducing emissions very soon and get them to essentially zero potentially within decades?

Another issue I have with these kind of articles is that they never seem to consider that one of the reasons the current strategy has been ineffective is the spread of misinformation by those who oppose any kind of climate action. Those trying to communicate about climate science are operating in an environment in which there are many who dispute the basics of climate science and are able to promote their views in some very prominent media outlets. It would seem helpful if those who were giving advice about how to be more effective would be willing to at least acknowledge the existence of such people and highlight that they are indeed wrong about the scientific evidence.

On a similar note, the article criticises explicitly highlighting the existence of climate science “denial”. Again, climate science “denial” does indeed seem to exist. Maybe if there was less focus on it, communication might be easier and more effective. On the other hand, this seems a bit like a form of deficit model thinking; just do something different and everything will be better. As far as I can tell, the reasons why some people reject climate science, and the need to do something about climate change, are complex and often associated with their political/cultural identity. Criticising the tactics used by climate communicators seems more like a convenient excuse than a real reason why some don’t accept the evidence for anthropogenically-driven climate change.

Of course, I do think it is worth thinking about how to engage with those who are pre-disposed to reject the risks associated with climate change, and some are indeed doing so (Katharine Hayhoe, for example). However, I don’t think this is easy and I don’t really think that if climate communicators had behaved differently in the past that it would have made much different to where we are today.

Okay, I was intending to keep this short and have, as usual, failed. One thing I feel strongly about is that if (when?) we realise that we really should have done more to address climate change, the fault will not lie with those who tried to communicate about these risks, even if they could have done better. This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t continually try to do better, but I do think we should be careful of creating a narrative suggesting that the problem was the tactics used by climate communicators. Of course, maybe I’m missing something about what is being presented in these kind of articles (probably am to some extent), so would be keen to hear what other people think.

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147 Responses to Focusing too heavily on public mobilization and exposing denial?

  1. TTauriStellarBody says:

    Out and out denial really only seems to be a problem with US Republicans and the Australian right wing. Here it seems to be a lack of sense of urgency from centrist voters who do not seem to be willing to change who they vote for based on climate policies in sufficient numbers to make it a hot button issue for politicians. Having “something” about climate somewhere in the policies seems good enough so there is no need to push beyond that.

    People seem to think that either the risks are exaggerated, what is being done is enough or perhaps that its “too big” a problem for this (i.e. every) election cycle to sort out.

    In the US, obviously their right wing seems to have an approach of it being a test of faith, how much you are prepared to scorn the mainstream science. There it has become deeply embedded into the “culture war” and it seems to need something rather immense to budge it out again.

  2. TTauri,
    Yes, I think you’re right that outright denial is more prevalent in the US and Australia than in many other countries. I would say that some of Lukewarmerism you see in the UK is simply an attempt to appear more consistent with the evidence while still essentially disputing the need to do anything.

  3. Richard Arrett says:

    The word “denial” is thrown around a lot, but is actually pretty rare. Most people who are lukewarmers actually accept that there has been warming, but question how much of it has been caused by humans.

    I am happy to accept that 1/2 of the warming since 1880 (or even 1750) has been caused by humans, but am not willing to accept that all warming since 1750 (or 1880) has been caused by humans. Some people call me a denier for this position, but I don’t actually think that is an accurate label.

    The need for action has actually caused a lot of problems. Biofuels seem to use more energy than they “save”. Wind has some issues. But everything has some issue (even hydro).

    The one concrete action I would support is nuclear. I have advocated doubling the number of nuclear power plants in the USA (I live in the USA so only speak to the USA) from 100 to 200, to move the share of electricity generated by nuclear from 20% to 40%.

    In fact, I think we could easily grow the share of nuclear from 20% to 80% in the USA, with the remaining 20% being renewable. I think we could do this in 15 years (100 plants every 5 years). Pick a nice passive cooling design and approve it and create some tax incentives to build that design and we could get it done. It is only 2 plants per state every 5 years. How hard can it be? The more you build the cheaper that plant would be to build.

    Sure nuclear waste is a problem – but a small problem relative to the amount of energy produced using nuclear. I would build regional recycling plants and reprocess the waste from the other nuclear power plants.

    People are letting “perfect” (i.e. renewable) be the enemy of “good” (i.e. nuclear) and opposing a solution which is carbon free and produces baseload power (i.e. not intermittent when dark and not windy, but available 24/7). Why? Fear of radiation. Nuclear is actually safer than any other form of energy.

    Nuclear is the solution to the problem. Eventually the scientific community will come around (like Hanson) and then perhaps even policy makers will too. Perhaps than the nuclear regulatory agency will tone it down and let some plants get built – they are a problem now and that needs to change.

    And if it only warms 1.8C per doubling of CO2 we will still be ahead of the game. If it warms 3C or 4C per doubling of CO2, we will be very far ahead of the game.

    Nuclear is doable, but not many are pushing that as a solution. I would like to see that change.

  4. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: The following article by Graham Readfearn expands upon of one of the issues that you have addressed in the OP…

    Vast Blind Spot’: IPCC Accused of Ignoring ‘Decades Long’ Fossil Fuel Misinformation Campaign on Climate by Graham Readfearn, DeSmog, Oct 12, 2018

  5. Nisbett’s article seemed TL;DR (hey, it’s only about the end of civilization, I don’t have time to read all that!)… but I did get as far as these bits, which I wanted to highlight… Not Nisbett’s fault per se, but something I have found maddening over the last week…

    For countries to achieve the 1.5C goal, concludes IPCC scientists, global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions would need to be cut 50% by 2030 and entirely by 2050.

    […]

    News coverage of the IPCC report has been nothing less than dystopian, warning of a runaway monster. “We have 12 years to limit catastrophe, UN warns,” was the headline at The Guardian. “The world has just over a decade to get climate change under control, U.N. scientists say,” echoed the Washington Post.

    … etc. …

    First of all, as Stefan Rahmstorf and others have pointed out, most of the press on the report has framed the key takeaway as, roughly, “reduce emissions by 45% below 2010 levels by 2030”!!!! GULP!!!

    But, of course, our emissions are currently a hell of a lot higher than 2010, so, more germanely, we now would need to cut emissions by 58% by 2030… Just saying…

    Leaving aside the point that 2030 was just a “nice even number” waystation on the way to zero emissions – i.e. not “we have only until 2030 to get our shit together!” – whether you plug a 45% reduction over 12 years or a 58% reduction… You are looking at required ANNUAL reduction rates, starting tomorrow! – of between 5% and 7% a year… Miss a few years early, and those required rates steepen…

    Why are even framing this as “we have only twelve years to solve this”… Actually, we only 2019 to solve this, and 2020, and 2021….

    Despite how devastating “only have until 2030 to solve this!” should be – and is! – there is actually a pernicious “phew! at least we still have time!” aspect to this framing…. We actually have to be solving it – BIG TIME – now… The fierce urgency of now… Since Nisbett is the messaging/communication guru, maybe he should be pointing this out, instead of just copy-pasting…

    For those of us who have been at this long enough and are fairly analytical, this has been a nightmare, and now we are supposed to find new ways to get everyone out of the burning theatre???

  6. Oh, sweet baby jesus, if only for the rarely-spotted Bigfoots of the carbon-concerned community – “NO NUKES!” – all would be good…

    I have advocated doubling the number of nuclear power plants in the USA […] from 100 to 200, to move the share of electricity generated by nuclear from 20% to 40%.

    Completely disconnected from the scale of what is required… boring…

  7. Willard says:

    > Most people who are lukewarmers actually accept that there has been warming, but question how much of it has been caused by humans.

    Which is a form of denial.

    I’m not even sure it’s a milder one.

  8. Joshua says:

    It would seem helpful if those who were giving advice about how to be more effective would be willing to at least acknowledge the existence of such people and highlight that they are indeed wrong about the scientific evidence.

    Do you think that if they did as you suggest, anytbing would change significantly?

    I don’t, although I guess there’s nothing to lose.

    Still, I think that energy would be better spent if it were focused in directions other than advocating for the science-communicator critics to change their approach: (1) ain’t going to happen and, (2) prolly wouldn’t change anything even if it did.

  9. Joshua says:

    Richard Arrett –

    Given that nuclear energy is extremely expensive with a long time horizon for return on investment, and that investors are much more attracted to investments that bring positive returns on much shorter time scales….

    How do you see build up of nuclear paid for? Do you think the government should tax people and then finance nuclear power? If so, what form of taxation would you prefer?

  10. Everett F Sargent says:

    I read the entire thing from the USAniacistan. The piece deals entirely and solely with USAniacstan policy/politics. As such, it represents a minority view of only one country. Such a waste of time given Trump. Forget about us, please, as we’re headed back to the stone age.

    Note To Self: The finger pointing by Nisbet was really rather annoying. No real solutions. No new ideas. Just the same old same old for anyone who has followed USAniacistan politics/policy for a few decades. No new material whatsoever. :/

    IRENA
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Renewable_Energy_Agency
    GLOBAL ENERGY TRANSFORMATION: A Roadmap To 2050
    https://www.irena.org/-/media/Files/IRENA/Agency/Publication/2018/Apr/IRENA_Report_GET_2018.pdf

  11. Steven Mosher says:

    ATTP.
    The argument he makes seems trivially true, not much point in fighting the facts

    In general the focus of campaigns ( al gore and others ) has been to educate and mobilize the public to take painful action now to avoid a more painful future.
    They tried to sell fear.
    There is nothing inherently wrong with trying to sell fear, especially when climate change will bring damage and we ordinarily fear that. However, monday morning quarterbacking we can spot a few things that could have been done better.

    A) If you are going to sell fear, understand that this requires a short sales cycle. Buy now, or the price goes up. Note also, unless the cost is small ( like term insurance) and the damage is unpredictable ( you might die tommorrow) and the benefit is clear ( your kids get millions), then it is very hard to sell on a far off fear. Especially if the far off fear is predicted to be decades off, especially if the fear is somewhat uncertain ( when) and especially if the cost is high or unknow. When you sell fear it is beter if the damage could come at any time. And it helps if you can point to people who took the early pain and were spared the damage. Like a good insurance commercial that shows Pat getting the check for her burned down house, etc.
    yes, the truth is the damage decades off is a real risk, but you cant sell the insurance like you sell
    normal insurance. The other thing to realize is that after a while people get use to the fear.
    Ask me, I live in seoul. After a while…. Meh, you ingore the fact you live under a volcano, you ingore the fact that you live in tornado valley, you ignore the fact that Sea level may rise a meter.
    With other risks, smoking, dying, car accident, house burning, you watch people get bailed out,
    you watch people who were not prepared. or maybe you had a reck with no insurance. you learn.
    It is futile to fight these facts of on selling fear.
    B) If you are going to sell fear you usually get one chance. A wolf is coming. Folks have a normal reaction when selling fear didnt work. AMP up the fear. Of course some of this is legit as we learn more about the Future damages. But to the audience it looks like you are deperate to sell.
    Buy now, prices go up 25% by oct 31.. And the next day.. Buy now, More price increases 50% by
    Oct 31, Last chance to buy now!! From a sales perspective every buyer will smell the fear of the selling and then you are done for.

    C) If you are going to sell fear you need a TRUSTED messanger. Boy cried wolf again. Gore was great for the left. But you get the opposite repsonse from the right.

    So if you monday morning quarterback you can see some points where folks did not execute with perfection. And points where they should have known better. Its pointless now to observe that Gore would have done better by having a republican by his side.

    The goal was mobilizng folks to accept pain today to dimish the risk of future damage. SUPER HARD sales and marketing job. We can and should note the limitations of the chosen approach,
    without blaming those involved.

    Of course mobilizing the masses is only one part, and not very important. The masses dont make policy. and the polciy makers dont listen to the masses. That has to be clear. Is it a mistake to mobilize? Nope. Its a mistake to think its necessary or sufficient.

    Denial: Now, take the hard job of selling fear, have amateurs execute that job, and THEN toss in the millions spent on dis information. The natural reaction is to attack the attackers and we shift from mobilizing to tribalizing. In hindsight, I would say this. Lets take an example of me promoting a product online, say in reddit or one of the old BBS. The rule was simple. Leaders and spokespeople
    never attack attackers. First you ignore, then you have surrogates attack. Want to know what it looks like when leaders attack back? Trump and stormy daniels. Again hindsight.

    Message control: who speaks for AGW. Without a clear unchanging message its hard to sell anything. Brand AGW suffers from too many cooks in the kitchen. Message control when you mobilize is hard because followers will go off the sheet music. Wadhams. or some people will ride their hobby horse: get rid of capitalism, prosecute Oil companies, we only have 5 years ect ect.
    This is akin to having david Duke endorse you as a candidate. Very tough to control, especially when you sell fear.

    Now in any campaing you want to war game this stuff out before you deploy. What will the reaction be? Is X the best spokes person? who will respond to critics? how? How do we handle folks who get off message?

    If you are doing an after action report you would list all this stuff and more. And the point would not be layin blame the point would be improving. Once upon a time I made an effort to push ( not pushing was needed) and promte two people as spokes people. Primarily because they were smart women and I wrongly thought ( sexist that I am) that most of the older white dude skeptics would not hit girls. Man was that wrong. Skeptics also tried a similar tactic using Kristan Brynes, young kid ( a fake it turns out). and of course since tribalism was in full force every combatant was fair game. it was worth a try, still is

    I think a clear eyed review of everything that was done is required, and will show that some of the choices may have not been the best. duh. Still, one can argue that no matter who was choosen as spokesperson, no matter what the message, no matter what, that we were destined for a tribal clash. No planet B to test that, of course. One just so story says we failed becasue of X, one story says, no way could it be different. So there.
    So nesbit makes some observations about communication and com strategy that seem to be pretty straightforward. Been there done that. not too much point in arguing the nits of it.

    Nesbit also makes a suggestion. It seems pretty clear

    “Instead the discussion with policymakers should emphasize the variety of benefits to be gained by achieving a 100% zero carbon economy fueled by cheap, abundant energy innovations.”

    I think some of the messaging addresses this. But its also clear that this is not the message of choice. Nor is it clear how this message would be cashed out. Who would be the spokesmodel?
    My reaction is “good idea” now go flesh that out, address all these issues questions etc and come back with detailed plan.

    I doubt whether a public message switch can be made. maybe the message to policy makers can shift, which is where the dollars should be focused anyway. I’ll suggest fresh faces. not to critize the old faces, but just to keep the attackers in scurry mode.. The old faces ( take Gore) already have scars, inflicted fairly or unfairly –doesnt matter)

  12. Rick,

    I am happy to accept that 1/2 of the warming since 1880 (or even 1750) has been caused by humans, but am not willing to accept that all warming since 1750 (or 1880) has been caused by humans.

    Why not? Most of the evidence indicates that we’re probably responsible for all of the modern warming. Why would you not be willing to accept this?

  13. Steven,

    The argument he makes seems trivially true, not much point in fighting the facts

    It’s not so much the argument, it’s the overall interpretation/significance. Could we do better? Yes? Should we try to engage with those who reject AGW? Yes, but this is difficult and there are probably who would fail, however hard they try. My issue with the article is more what it ignores, than what it presents. This isn’t simply the responsibility of those who are trying to motivate action. Those who are dismissive, or actively oppose action, have responsibility for their own views, even if they justifiably feel as though most of the climate communication is coming from people with whom they don’t identify.

  14. TTauriStellarBody says:

    If the National Academy of Science has been saying “we have a problem here” since 1979, I am not sure I would lay the blame for an entire political party rejecting it at the feet of Al Gore and his movie.

    Id say a concentrated war on those statements for decades by what is termed “special interests” would be the first place I would look.

  15. Marco says:

    “If you are going to sell fear you need a TRUSTED messanger. Boy cried wolf again. Gore was great for the left. But you get the opposite repsonse from the right.”

    Hmmm…I don’t think anyone will ever be considered a trusted messenger for ‘the right’ or ‘the left’, when that messenger says something that goes against their deeply held beliefs. Although, and I am saying this solely based on my own experience, I have seen more lefties than righties willing to change their beliefs based on scientific insights.

    Also, based on his political stances, Al Gore would likely fit better to the center-right parties in Europe than to any center-left parties. Maybe not quite Conservative in the UK, but more Liberal Democrat. Not Labour (maybe, just maybe under Tony Blair). I can’t seem him in the SPD in Germany, either, but CDU, yes. Perhaps more likely FDP, though.

  16. Canman says:

    Rustneversleeps:

    “Completely disconnected from the scale of what is required…”

    No! Nuclear power is the only thing that has been empirically proven to be connected to the scale of what is required:

    The only experiment “on the scale of what is required” with renewables is Germany’s energiewende and it’s been a dismal failure! They’re not going to meet their 2020 targets. They’re chopping down forests to mine dirty lignite coal. If the land of the fabled rocket scientists can’t do it, nobody can!

    Michael Shellenberger’s been writing all about it and he’s earnestly offering solutions. His case is compelling, unlike a certain other “solutions” project. If you don’t agree with him, you should do some point by point debunking of his Forbes columns.

  17. canman,
    I think both you and Rick sometimes forgot that the USA is not the world. Nuclear may be able to play a significant in some countries, but probably not in all (at least, not at this time). There are some where wind can indeed work, where solar can work, where geothermal can work, where hydro can work, etc. There’s not one solution, and no solution has no drawbacks, and most solutions can probably play a role somewhere. It’s also hard to take someone seriously when they suggest that Shellenberger is *earnestly* offering solutions.

  18. Dave_Geologist says:

    The word “denial” is thrown around a lot, but is actually pretty rare. Most people who are lukewarmers actually accept that there has been warming, but question how much of it has been caused by humans.

    And in so doing deny settled science. And are therefore deniers. Perhaps in addition to being lukewarmers, but deniers nevertheless.

  19. Marco says:

    “And in so doing deny settled science. And are therefore deniers. Perhaps in addition to being lukewarmers, but deniers nevertheless.”

    Yeah, it comes down to “I only deny HALF of what the science indicates!”
    This behavior is common in many other ‘contentious’ areas of science. For example, some evolution deniers state they don’t deny evolution, because they accept microevolution (small changes within a species), just don’t believe macroevolution exists (speciation).
    We also have anti-vaxxers who claim they aren’t anti-vaccination, just the current schedule and many of the vaccines, and some ingredients, and whatnot.
    And let’s not even talk about the Old Earth Creationists, who ridicule Young Earth Creationists for their denial of geological science, only to then invoke the same mechanistic explanation as those YECs. The cdesign proponentsists had a slightly more sophisticated way of plausible denial of being science deniers, by claiming they merely proposed an alternative hypothesis, and thus accepted all the science.

  20. Hyperactive Hydrologist says:

    I am not sure we have enough skilled engineers to design and build enough nuclear power plants in the timescales required.

  21. Marco says:

    “No! Nuclear power is the only thing that has been empirically proven to be connected to the scale of what is required:”

    Too bad this is politically really problematic, and not just because the general population in some countries has an overwhelming fear of nuclear power. Rather, the international community has major concerns about nuclear power being built up in many countries, as their governments are not trusted (or the population, for that matter). Take Iran: its build-up of nuclear power was immediately linked to nuclear weapons. Perhaps fair enough, but it has trouble building truly safe reactors because the international community isn’t exactly helpful. More nuclear reactors in Pakistan won’t make India very happy (note that this is planned). How about a nuclear plant in Yemen? Saudi Arabia’s plans to build nuclear power have worried several nations around it, not in the least Israel. Imagine Haiti with a nuclear power plant – and its share of earthquakes and hurricanes.
    The Finns are a bit worried about nuclear power, too. Not so much about the nuclear power as such, but rather that they’ve had to collaborate with Russian companies that will literally own part of the energy production in Finland. Same goes for Turkey, where its first nuclear power plant is in essence fully Russian.

    Also, if I remember correctly (can’t remember where I found this), if every Western country would build nuclear power plants to cover just 50% of all electricity (and thus ca. 25% of total energy consumption), we would have to increase uranium mining with an order of magnitude or so. Again if I remember correctly, that would mean we have about 30-40 years of economically viably mineable uranium. We’d just be betting that new technology will come around and save us by that time.

  22. Steven Mosher says:

    Canman. the situation is not dire enough to require nuclear.
    if we are lucky renewables can do it all. we need to be lucky
    belief in some luck is allowed, hope in other luck is not allowed.

  23. Mosher, it’s the opposite.

    It’s Canman and Rick saying things like “The one concrete action I would support is nuclear.”, “Nuclear is the solution to the problem.”, “Nuclear power is the only thing…”, etc.

    Meanwhile, I doubt that there is a single participant present in this current discussion who is actively opposed to a significant expansion of nuclear power.

    Instead, you three create just such a straw-bogeyman…

  24. BBD says:

    ATTP asks RickA (Richard Arrett):

    Why not? Most of the evidence indicates that we’re probably responsible for all of the modern warming. Why would you not be willing to accept this?

    Because RickA is a climate science denier.

  25. JCH says:

    Let’s just get on with it. Build 100 nukes and hook them to a gigantic machine that sucks CO2 out of the atmosphere. Everybody’s happy. What can go wrong?

  26. Jeff N says:

    “There are some where wind can indeed work, where solar can work….”
    We’ve been hearing that since 1976 and there isn’t one. Hawaii has an abundance of wind, sun, geothermal, seaside mountains for pumped storage, and has the highest cost for electricity in the US thanks to fact that every ounce of fossil fuels has to be shipped in over thousands of miles. Over half of electricity produced on the island still comes from burning oil- this despite 30 years of dire international warnings and a uniparty state (Democrat). They are up to 27% “renewables” this year thanks to a big assist from geo-thermal (29% of power on the big island), but not much from wind and solar.
    Hawaiian electricity rates went up to integrate more renewables and the electric companies are still arguing they should have gone up more. If it costs more to provide renewable energy to a hotel on a sunny, windy beach in a moderate climate next to a geothermal hotspot than it does to ship oil 3,000 miles to burn, it is entirely reasonable to doubt that renewables are functional, cost effective alternatives to fossil fuels.
    One of the biggest sources of CO2 emissions in Hawaii is aviation fuel. Why haven’t Hawaii and California (another big supporter of AGW action) combined to reduce flights to Hawaii? Denial? Republicans? This is urgent, right? The fate of the planet is at stake and nobody in two progressive states is willing to tell people to visit beaches closer to home?

  27. BBD says:

    Why do contrarians hate wind and solar so very, very much?

    I’ve never understood this, unless is it simply loathing by association: “all those lefty crusty types are into W&S so they must be the work of the communist Satan”.

    Whatever. As others keep pointing out, the solutionS to decarbonisation will include a wide range of low carbon technologies. W&S will play a large role because unlike hydro, biomass et al. they have very large potential to expand.

  28. Richard Arrett says:

    Joshua asks “How do you see build up of nuclear paid for? Do you think the government should tax people and then finance nuclear power? If so, what form of taxation would you prefer?”

    I would like to see tax incentives to persuade power companies to replace their existing coal power plants with nuclear plants. The customers will end up paying for the power the same way we now pay for electricity. It may be more expensive than coal power, but so is solar and wind.

  29. John Hartz says:

    I live in Columbia, South Carolina and we know a thing or two about the constructing a new nuclear power plant in the U.S. Our utility, SCE&G and its minority partner, the state-owned Santee Cooper utility, abandoned the V.C. Summer nuclear construction project in July 2017 after years of cost overruns and construction delays and $9 billion spent. Rate payer of both utilities have been paying and will continue to pay for this boondoggle thanks to a state law enacted at the utilities behest named “The Base-Load Review Act.”

    For more details about this nuclear power plant debacle, see…

    With 2 days left, SC Legislature could fail to pass bills fixing VC Summer fiasco by Avery G Wilks, The State, June 24, 2018

  30. Canman says:

    ATTP: “It’s also hard to take someone seriously when they suggest that Shellenberger is *earnestly* offering solutions.”

    There is an importance to being earnest. Shellenberger is clearly showing a concern about the future well being of humanity. If you have any evidence against this, please share it.

    I suppose Mark Jacobson is also earnest, but there’s a big difference. Jacobson is an anti-nuclear zeolet who can’t deal with opposing views. He’s famous for his long list of blocked twitterers. Shellenberger is ready to debate anybody anytime.

  31. izen says:

    @-verytallguy
    ” It may be more expensive than coal power, but so is solar and wind.”

    You are entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts.

    http://uk.businessinsider.com/solar-power-cost-decrease-2018-5?r=US&IR=T
    “The cost of solar power is decreasing so rapidly, it’s now cheaper than coal, based on a new analysis. ”

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/energyinnovation/2018/01/23/cheap-renewables-keep-pushing-fossil-fuels-further-away-from-profitability-despite-trumps-efforts/#e92ea0b6ce9a
    ” In many parts of the U.S., building new wind is cheaper than running existing coal, ”

    Note that these are not left-wing greeny sources but respected sources on the side of capitalist economics.

    The big problem with nuclear is the need for a stable security system to protect a site from weather, earthquake and terrorist activity. As well as the political poison in a ‘free market’ of taxing people for a centralised form of power generation when localised distributed systems are obviously the way forward.
    Then there is the problem of ensuring the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, the global oversight of this works when a Nation agrees to cooperate, less effectively when they refuse any inspection like N Korea, Israel, Pakistan etc…

  32. He’s famous for his long list of blocked twitterers. Shellenberger is ready to debate anybody anytime.

    Shellenberger blocks me on Twitter. Not complaining, mind you.

  33. Canman says:

    Here’s electricity generation for the world:

    Here it is for the US with the Barack Obama administration added in:

    That tiny sliver of wind and solar is the easy part. Any sginificant scaling up is going to require gigatons of infrostructure and storage, no matter how cheap PV panels or wind turbine blades get. Nuclear plants just swap out with coal plants and such. Getting some 4rth gens up to find which are best should be a no-brainer.

  34. izen says:

    @-Jeff N
    ” If it costs more to provide renewable energy to a hotel on a sunny, windy beach in a moderate climate next to a geothermal hotspot than it does to ship oil 3,000 miles to burn, it is entirely reasonable to doubt that renewables are functional, cost effective alternatives to fossil fuels.”

    Or you could look into the rules the power companies use to choose which sources of power generation to use when wind farms and solar plants could produce ALL the power for that hotel at a cheaper cost than fossil fuels.
    They ‘curtail’ the power from the wind farms (which are actually capable of providing ALL the required power) in favour of the oldest sources of generation, like fossil fuels that are more expensive.
    Here is the ‘reason’ for this as reported from a CEO of a generating business in Hawaii;-

    ““Economic curtailment is not allowed for our PPAs, so the curtailment order is reverse chronological order by the PUC approval date, typically,” McNeff told Utility Dive during a visit to the MECO control room. “It’s kind of like, whoever got here first.”

    The curtailment order aims to ensure that older, more expensive facilities can continue to sell power as renewable energy prices decline. If economic curtailment was in place, “you would continually rob those earlier facilities,” McNeff said, “and what that eventually will do is cause no one to invest.”

  35. Canman says:

    ATTP, what did you tweet at him to get blocked?

  36. Dave_Geologist says:

    Here it is for the US with the Barack Obama administration added in

    And you were doing so well, even under Bush II. Until that blocking majority took control of Congress. Funny that. Almost as if they’re in somebody’s pocket. Or just wanted to block anything Obama, because, well, Obama.

  37. Canman says:

    Here’s a smaller version of the third graph that should show up:

  38. canman,

    ATTP, what did you tweet at him to get blocked?

    I think I may have called him condescending and arrogant which, although clearly true, maybe isn’t very polite.

  39. Jeff N says:

    izen. Hawaiian electric built it’s first wind farm for power generation in 1985- 33 years ago and 3 years before Hansen wowed congress. Are you suggesting some greedy conspiracy to use the highest cost, least effective power source over the last three decades? I prefer Occam’s Razor.

  40. C’mon, stay on topic. Which was, oh sh*t, I forget now. It’s another “Nukes! Nukes! Nukes!” thread.

    Yawn. Nuclear cement, nuclear aviation, nuclear agriculture, what can’t it do, hippies?

    Halving overall emissions in the upcoming critical decade(s), for starters…

  41. Ha ha, having gone back to actually check the core topic of the discussion…

    Maybe the nukies present might wonder whether they:

    focused too heavily on public mobilization and exposing denial, ignoring other strategies likely to accelerate societal change…

    Ha ha, a price on carbon comes to mind… ha, ha, ha…

  42. verytallguy says:

    Izen

    @-verytallguy
    ” It may be more expensive than coal power, but so is solar and wind.”

    Seems like I’m entitled not just to my own opinions, but other people’s too!

    [check the quote, it wasn’t me. In fact, insightful as my opinions always are, I’ve yet to share them at all on this thread. I expect everyone is devastated, naturally]

  43. verytallguy says:

    Noting whose opinions were ascribed to me, I find

    I am happy to accept that 1/2 of the warming since 1880 (or even 1750) has been caused by humans, but am not willing to accept that all warming since 1750 (or 1880) has been caused by humans. Some people call me a denier for this position, but I don’t actually think that is an accurate label.

    I am happy to accept that the writer of these words is a 1/2 wit, but am not willing to accept he is a total fuckwit. Some people call me a denier for this position, but I don’t actually think that is an accurate label.

  44. Joshua says:

    I would like to see tax incentives to persuade power companies.

    Have you looked into the practical logistics of providing tax cuts sufficient to finance a large scale build up of nuclear power? What is your rough estimate of the numbers involved? Are there even enough in taxes to reach the cost even if power companies paid zero in taxes?

    What services would you give up in return for the lower tax revenue? How would you propose garnering enough public support to cut that amount in services? Do you think the government should just cut the services even if there isn’t sufficient public support?

  45. Joshua says:

    Canman –

    Shellenberger is clearly showing a concern about the future well being of humanity. If you have any evidence [showing] against this, please share it.

  46. Richard Arrett says:

    Joshua:

    I have done none of these things. I am just expressing my opinion about what I personally think would be the best way to transition to a more carbon free energy production.

    All I know is we managed to build 100 of these plants so far (in the USA). I live in Minnesota and we have two nuclear power plants, which I believe were paid for by private companies – so it can be done. We just need to do it all over again, three times (100 than another 100 and than another 100 plants and we will be at 80% nuclear and 20% renewable).

    Since 60% of our energy is still fossil fuel based (in the USA), which is baseload (not intermittent), it makes sense to replace it with another baseload source (like nuclear). Wind and solar requires a baseload backup to step in when it is not windy or sunny, and nuclear could provide that also. Better nuclear as backup for intermittent power than coal, in my opinion.

    But I am just one voter – so we will see what happens.

  47. Steven Mosher says:

    “The word “denial” is thrown around a lot, but is actually pretty rare. Most people who are lukewarmers actually accept that there has been warming, but question how much of it has been caused by humans.

    I am happy to accept that 1/2 of the warming since 1880 (or even 1750) has been caused by humans, but am not willing to accept that all warming since 1750 (or 1880) has been caused by humans. Some people call me a denier for this position, but I don’t actually think that is an accurate label.”

    The thin green lines they will draw are ever shifting. Right now if you even ask for clarification of what it means for 110% of the warming to be human caused, you qualify as a denier. Later, suggesting nukes as a solution will get you the label.

    One solution is to use the label yourself against others “inside” the non denier tribe.
    Over use of a term leads to its debasement, kinda like nazi in that regard.

  48. suggesting nukes as a solution will get you the label

    No, Forrest Gump, he’s suggesting that it is the solution – that raises eyebrows… Oh, and lookie lookie, also is skeptical about 1/2 the warming… If you were a medical practitioner at intake, you should be noting hmmmm…

  49. Steven Mosher says:

    “Meanwhile, I doubt that there is a single participant present in this current discussion who is actively opposed to a significant expansion of nuclear power.”

    The problem is critical enough that the question needs to be asked differently

    What will you do, and what would you suggest that governments do to

    ACTIVELY ENDORSE and promote.

    A) Solar
    B) wind
    C. Nukes
    D..
    You get the idea

    “Not actively opposing ” ya ya, you dont tie yourself to bulldozers clearing the land for Nukes.

    Seems to me that if you are not actively promoting all forms of carbon free power generation
    then you are a denier.

    Just kidding.

    On renewables, love them, especially cheap renewables like hydro, solar and wind. If they have excess power my customers eat it up and help amortorize the Capx.

  50. Steven Mosher says:

    “No, Forrest Gump, he’s suggesting that it is the solution – that raises eyebrows… ”

    Lets ask Richard directly.

    Richard, your behavior is raising eyebrows and we want to make sure you are down for the cause.
    The doctors want to diagnose you ( thats the first step, medication comes later, think nurse rachet)

    A. Do you support Solar, wind and hydro where it makes sense?
    B. Do you support Nukes where they make sense?
    C. Do you believe that nukes are the only way forward, in short do you believe they are THE
    solution, or are they only A solution that you think has the best chance of providing baseload?
    D would you actively fight against a solar or wind installation?
    E in the end do you think we need every tool at our disposal because the future is hard to predict?
    F do you ride a bike?

  51. Steven Mosher says:

    “No, Forrest Gump, he’s suggesting that it is the solution – that raises eyebrows… Oh, and lookie lookie, also is skeptical about 1/2 the warming… If you were a medical practitioner at intake, you should be noting hmmmm…”

    See, here is the difference between you and me.

    I note richard. he accepts that 50% is down to humans. That’s good enough for me. Why?
    because half the battle is won. I want him in the tent not outside. My bet, No denier who denies
    that c02 is a GHG ( take any sky dragon) will ever flip over night. they wont flip ever. Richard?
    maybe he is 50% today, but given him time, he will get to the 72% minimum required ( gavins figure not mine) He’s just 22% outside the tent. let him in. Now he may think that Nukes are The one an only solution. Fine, we have nuts inside the tent who believe veganism is the solution,
    or bikes are the solution, or degrowth, you name it the tent is big enough for more variety.

    This is a different approach to mobilzation, where you focus on the areas of agreement rather than bright green lines.

    Maybe we should give him a DNA test, what percentage works for you 1/64?

  52. John Hartz says:

    Richard Arett: You wrote:

    I am happy to accept that 1/2 of the warming since 1880 (or even 1750) has been caused by humans, but am not willing to accept that all warming since 1750 (or 1880) has been caused by humans.

    Why are you happy to accept that 1/2 of the warming since 1880 (or even 1750) has been caused by humans”? What is the scientific evidence that lead you to this conclusion?

  53. Richard Arrett says:

    Steven Mosher asks:

    A. Do you support Solar, wind and hydro where it makes sense?
    Yes. I said 20% renewable and I bet it could even get to 35% before we start having trouble with the grid.
    B. Do you support Nukes where they make sense?
    Yes.
    C. Do you believe that nukes are the only way forward, in short do you believe they are THE
    solution, or are they only A solution that you think has the best chance of providing baseload?
    The second. Fusion could be as good or better than nuclear, if we could invent it so we get more energy out than we have to put in. Space based solar could also provide baseload, but not sure the best way to get the power down to the ground.
    D would you actively fight against a solar or wind installation?
    No. I just think too high a percentage of S&W will cause problems with the current grid, say higher than 35%.
    E in the end do you think we need every tool at our disposal because the future is hard to predict?
    Yes. And also invent new tools. The goal is to invent a non-carbon source which is actually cheaper than coal, is baseload and doesn’t take up any more space than a conventional power plant. We don’t have that yet.
    F do you ride a bike?
    No, not really. I have a bike, but only ride it once or twice a year for exercise. I drive a Toyota 4runner (2005).

  54. Richard Arrett says:

    John Hartz asks “Why are you happy to accept that 1/2 of the warming since 1880 (or even 1750) has been caused by humans”? What is the scientific evidence that lead you to this conclusion?”

    I know the sea level has been rising for the last 20000 years, and has risen 120 meters. I know the sea rose from 950 to about 1400 (about 6 cm per century). I know the sea fell from 1700 to 1800 ish. I don’t think humans had very much if any influence over these periods, or the warming and cooling which caused the SLR to go up and down.

    I know the sea level rose from 1905 to 1945 ish. I would be very surprised if humans caused even 50% of this SLR, given the amount of CO2 emitted to 1945 ish and the concentration in the atmosphere.

    That is my evidence that humans have not caused all the warming since 1750 or 1880.

    The 1/2 is pretty arbitrary (I admit). I don’t really have a specific amount. I just totally reject the notion that humans caused 110% of the warming or 100% or 90%, and so forth. I wouldn’t be surprised if we caused 1/2 of the warming, but it could be 25% or even 75%. Just not 100% or even worse 110%. That is crazy talk (in my opinion).

    I don’t think we know how much of the warming since 1880 (or 1750) is caused by humans, and I think the consensus is wrong for the reasons I have discussed above.

    One last thing. The 2015-2016 el nino added .2C of warming and since then we cooled .2C. That .2C of warming was totally natural and not caused by humans (the cooling was also natural). More evidence that humans have not caused all the warming since 1750 or 1880 (or cooling).

    Hope that helps you understand my views a little better.

    Being called a denier really bugs me.

    I cannot understand how anybody who accepts an ECS of between 1.5C and 4.5C can be called a denier (I kind of like 1.8C for ECS). Only time will tell what ECS actually is.

  55. Marco says:

    “I know the sea rose from 950 to about 1400 (about 6 cm per century)”

    How do you know this? Be careful, if you say “science has shown”, you’ll get a follow-up question: why accept *that* science (despite considerable uncertainty due to sparse measurements and analysis centuries after this happened) and *not* recent science and insights?

    It just doesn’t make any sense, unless you factor in confirmation bias.

  56. FWIW, I find it quite encouraging that Rick is in favour of low-carbon energy sources. I happen to think that getting people to understand the risks associated with AGW is an important step towards getting people to realise that we should be trying to reduce our emissions, but I don’t think it’s necessarily a requirement. If people are happy to endores alternatives even if they believe 1/2 the warming is human-caused (which is probably not the case) then that’s at least a step in the right direction.

  57. Rick,

    I know the sea level rose from 1905 to 1945 ish. I would be very surprised if humans caused even 50% of this SLR, given the amount of CO2 emitted to 1945 ish and the concentration in the atmosphere.

    Remember that the response to increasing atmospheric CO2 is logarithmic, so for a given change in atmospheric CO2 the response is bigger if the baseline is smaller. However, for that period rthe various changes in radiative forcing suggest that anthropogenic and solar influences were comparable, so it probably all anthropogenic over that period. Of course, solar has now decreased and we’re still warming, so most of the observed warming to date is probably anthropogenic.

  58. dikranmarsupial says:

    “given the amount of CO2 emitted to 1945 ish ”

    worth bearing in mind fossil fuel emissions overtook land use change emissions surprisingly late on (1950s or 60s?) and had been going on for centuries (if not thousands of years).

  59. verytallguy says:

    Just not 100% or even worse 110%. That is crazy talk (in my opinion).

    Asserting that the human contribution *must* be <100% is equivalent to asserting that we are *certain* the climate would have warmed without human influence.

    Now that's crazy talk.

    Being called a denier really bugs me

    So quit the crazy talk?

    I actually agree with you that more nuclear would be a good thing, but it really doesn’t have anything approaching the capacity for us to say, as you do, “Nuclear is the solution to the problem”. It’s just one tool in the box, for a limited part of the solution in a limited part of the world.

  60. Steven Mosher says:

    “I wouldn’t be surprised if we caused 1/2 of the warming, but it could be 25% or even 75%. Just not 100% or even worse 110%. That is crazy talk (in my opinion).”

    If you say 72% then that is within the guidelines for applying the denier Label.
    According to Gavin the range is something like 72% to 130 ssomething.

  61. Steven Mosher says:

    “I cannot understand how anybody who accepts an ECS of between 1.5C and 4.5C can be called a denier (I kind of like 1.8C for ECS). Only time will tell what ECS actually is.”

    just dont reveal your preference for 1.8 and I think I can smuggle you across the border…
    Oh, and wear this hat, and lose the accent

  62. Steven Mosher says:

    I read his answers, I say let him into the treehouse

  63. Dave_Geologist says:

    The 1/2 is pretty arbitrary (I admit). I don’t really have a specific amount. I just totally reject the notion that humans caused 110% of the warming or 100% or 90%, and so forth. I wouldn’t be surprised if we caused 1/2 of the warming, but it could be 25% or even 75%. Just not 100% or even worse 110%. That is crazy talk (in my opinion).

    So you don’t deny all science, only physics. Got it. How’s that anti-gravity thing coming along? IIRC in HHGG you just had to imagine yourself not falling.

    I cannot understand how anybody who accepts an ECS of between 1.5C and 4.5C can be called a denier (I kind of like 1.8C for ECS). Only time will tell what ECS actually

    Because by picking a low-ball ECS, and claiming that 50% human-caused is what you believe, not 100% ± about 50% (I can’t be bothered looking up the exact range), you’re denying the science that says 100% and a bit is the best scientific estimate. As per the graphs posted above. It’s like I rolled a six and you claimed I was cheating and all the faces on the dice were sixes. And persisted in the claim after I shown you one through five.

    Being called a denier really bugs me.

    Science denial really bugs me. Welcome to the bugged club!

    How to avoid the description?

    Say “I accept the IPCC range, but I feel lucky so I’m betting on the low end”. But accept that you’re banking on a statistically unlikely outcome, Don’t claim, absent evidence, that you’re right and the IPCC are wrong.

    Say “I accept the IPCC range, but I’m opposed to market interventions or international agreements, so I oppose taking any action now. The adverse consequences of inaction will drive markets to take action.”

    Don’t say all the faces of the dice are sixes, so we can gamble away to our heart’s content and not risk losing our shirt.

  64. Chubbs says:

    ECS <2C and human attribution <80% doesn't look very likely per research since IPCC last deliberated. Per the IPCC SR15 report: "anthropogenic warming is indistinguishable from and if anything greater than the observed warming, with 5 to 95% confidence range of plus/minus 20%"

  65. John Hartz says:

    Richard Arrett: Your rather superficial understanding of climate science suggests to me that your understanding of the costs and benefits of nuclear power plants is is rather superficial as well. You would do well to do more research on both topics.

  66. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    I read his answers, I say let him into the treehouse

    Moshpit would let anyone into the treehouse…

    Look – Steven and Judy have agreed to shake hands and say that + 10 C ECS is “off the table“, ”impossible“.

    Let’s all let the identity-politics chips fall from our shoulders, climb into the treehouse, shake hands, and agree that the Titanic was unsinkable.

  67. BBD says:

    All:

    You are wasting your time with RickA. He’s been twisting tails with his spiel for many years and nothing you can say will move the needle. Ever. He just keeps on repeating the same old rubbish, syllable for syllable, year after year. There is not the remotest suggestion of a whiff of a hint that he’s even distantly interested in actually learning.

    Some might call this egregious and sustained tr0lling, but I leave that up to individual judgement, of course.

  68. In regard to nuclear plants, it would take about 500 to provide all of the USA’s power needs. Consider that there are about 500 Boeing 747’s operational around the world. Airplanes will crash and nuclear power plants will have incidents, and so this would be the scope of the hazard analysis that would need to be considered.

  69. jacksmith4tx says:

    This is the place to see what PV cost.
    http://pvinsights.com/
    As of today 10-17-2018
    Poly Solar Module -2.15%
    Poly Module in China -4.44%
    Poly High Eff / PERC Module -1.88%
    Mono High Eff / PERC Module -2.44%
    Mono High Eff / PERC Module in China -3.05%
    ThinFilm Solar Module -1.18%
    It’s at a record low price.

    The question then becomes is it because all of these factors:
    1) Over supply
    2) Technology has driven the price down
    3) It needs storage costs to drop by xx%
    4) Negative political forces
    5) Fossil fuel industry is trying to suppress it

  70. Richard Arrett says:

    BBD:

    It is true that I have not changed my mind since I started following the global warming topic in 2009.

    But that is because the facts have not changed during that entire time.

    We still don’t know what ECS is or what TCR is, despite 28 years of research.

    The IPCC range for ECS is still 1.5C to 4.5C and hasn’t been narrowed by climate scientists in 28 years (well ok, it narrowed and then went back to the original range).

    ECS and TCR are still model metrics, and so vary with every model, cannot actually be measured in the real world, and so are terrible metrics in my opinion. The models are still wrong and their predictions keep turning out to be off (always to the warm side).

    Observationally constrained ECS (Lewis and Curry) is still 1.8 ish, using actual real world temperature data and real world forcings – but nobody cares because those models are apparently even more wrong than the cassandra consensus models (which are also always wrong) and yet which manage to always predict doom in the future.

    At least I have a plan and laid it out. A plan that is doable and which will actually solve the problem (in the United States anyway). Build 100 new nuclear power plants every 5 years for 15 years and generate 80% of our power using nuclear power and 20% with renewable. It is technologically feasible. True, I don’t know how to pay for it or make it happen or what to do about nuclear power in rogue nations. But than I am just a single voter, so that is not really my job. But I did put it out for various blog audiences to read and consider. It has been universally rejected. Why? Because people don’t like nuclear power. Not because it won’t solve the problem.

    Meanwhile, I have yet to see an actual plan from anybody else that will actually solve the problem without expanding nuclear. I am talking about a real plan – not pie in the sky 100% renewable bullshit, which is just a giant wish at this point. All I see are people wishing for a solution – but no actual solutions.

    Lets hear some other actual solutions – I am listening.

    Meanwhile, the stubborn facts are that intermittent power requires baseload backup. The more intermittent power you rely on, the more baseload backup power you end up needing. Without massive as yet not invented power storage technology, you end up emitting more CO2 that you would emit just burning coal, just from keeping the baseload backup power ready to spin up on a moments notice (oops the wind stopped and it is dark), building double power capacity (intermittent and baseload), shipping, manufacturing of solar panels and wind turbines, mining lithium and rare earth metals, etc.

    Germany’s plan didn’t really turn out so well. And they turned off 5 nuclear power plants to boot because of fukushima. Just plain stupid, in my opinion and going in the wrong direction.

    The environmental damage from trillions of lithium batteries is probably going to be as bad if not worse than CO2 emissions – but we won’t find that out for 50 years (just a guess on my part, but a forseeable unintended consequence if you ask me). I guess we will find out if we end up building all electric cars and powering our homes with the power wall.

    To me it looks like nobody is really interested in solving the problem, as they reject a ready made solution for pie in the sky wishful thinking which nobody actually knows how to build right now. Instead, it looks like people want to change the entire world economy, transfer wealth from country A to country B and tell everybody what to do and how to live. And some are surprised that people resist?

    So I haven’t changed my mind. I will keep reading and when the facts change I will consider whether I should change my mind.

    Until then, I still think nuclear is the way to go.

  71. Willard says:

    You said your piece more than once now, RickA. It’s time to let go.

    Going nuclear has implications Freedom Fighters may have a hard time reconciling with their fight for Freedom:

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2017/11/29/going-nuclear/

  72. BBD says:

    It is true that I have not changed my mind since I started following the global warming topic in 2009.

    But that is because the facts have not changed during that entire time.

    See what I mean, folks?

    Not worth the bother.

  73. God, you are boring, RickA.

    As BBD suggests, you are unlikely to absorb this, but since it is timely, from nuclear uber-enthusiast Bill Gates yesterday:

    Climate Change and the 75% Problem

    No surprise to anyone honestly assessing the dilemma, but apparently cannot be said too often:

    Making electricity is responsible for only 25% of all greenhouse gas emissions each year. So even if we could generate all the electricity we need without emitting a single molecule of greenhouse gases (which we’re a long way from doing), we would cut total emissions by just a quarter.

    To prevent the worst effects of climate change, we need to get to zero net greenhouse gas emissions in every sector of the economy… That means dealing with electricity, and the other 75% too.

    Where do greenhouse gas emissions come from? I like to break it down into five main categories—what I call the grand challenges in stopping climate change:

    Electricity (25%). Although there’s been progress in the renewable energy market, we still need more breakthroughs. For example, wind and solar need zero-carbon backup sources for windless days, long periods of cloudy weather, and nighttime. We also need to make the electric grid a lot more efficient so clean energy can be delivered where it’s needed, when it’s needed.
    Agriculture (24%). Cattle are a huge source of methane; in fact, if they were a country, they would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases! In addition, deforestation—clearing land for crops, for instance—removes trees that pull CO2 out of the air, and when the trees are burned, they release all their carbon back into the atmosphere.
    Manufacturing (21%). Look at the plastic, steel, and cement around you. All of it contributed to climate change. Making cement and steel requires lots of energy from fossil fuels, and it involves chemical reactions that release carbon as a byproduct. So even if we could make all the stuff we need with zero-carbon energy, we’d still need to deal with the byproducts.
    Transportation (14%). Low-emission cars are great, but cars account for a little less than half of transportation-related emissions today—and that share will shrink in the future. More emissions come from airplanes, cargo ships, and trucks. Right now we don’t have practical zero-carbon options for any of these.
    Buildings (6%). Do you live or work in a place with air conditioning? The refrigerant inside your AC unit is a greenhouse gas. In addition, it takes a lot of energy to run air conditioners, heaters, lights, and other appliances. Things like more-efficient windows and insulation would help. This area will be more important over the next few decades as the global population moves to cities. The world’s building stock will double in area by 2060. That’s like adding another New York City every month for 40 years.
    (The final 10% is a sixth, miscellaneous category that includes things like the energy it takes to extract oil and gas.)

    So, your interpretation of the science with respect to the scale of the problem is an outlier, and your solution is a non-solution even if you were made world czar and implemented it. Yawn.

  74. verytallguy says:

    “At least I have a plan and laid it out. A plan that is doable and which will actually solve the problem (in the United States anyway). Build 100 new nuclear power plants every 5 years for 15 years and generate 80% of our power using nuclear power and 20% with renewables”

    That’s not a plan. It’s a small element of a potential plan.

    Lets hear some other actual solutions – I am listening.

    https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/c9e5/2d7a9feadd1ad3b85ea2f39a58f0ab0bafc1.pdf

  75. Dave_Geologist says:

    On lithium – here’s a win-win!
    I

    n 2010 Simbol Materials received a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy for a pilot project aimed at showing the financial feasibility of extracting high-quality lithium from geothermal brine. It uses brine from the 49.9 megawatt Featherstone geothermal power plant in California’s Imperial Valley. Simbol passes the plant’s extracted fluid through a series of membranes, filters and adsorption materials to extract lithium.

    It’s amazing what a bit of human ingenuity will do.

  76. Willard says:

    Gritty, the new Philadelphia Flyers mascot, is so ugly he has become memeable. Here he is, along popular characters, with his modest proposal to tackle AGW (you need to click on the tweet then on the photo to see him):

  77. Hyperactive Hydrologist says:

    Thermal power plants (including nuclear) are limited by water availability for cooling. There have been a number of cases, including in the US, where power plants have had to be shutdown due to drought and lack of available water for cooling. This is only going to get worse with increasing drought risk due to CC and increase in water demand from other sectors.

    Claiming that nuclear power can provide 100% reliable baseload may not necessarily be true in the future. Wind and solar don’t have this problem.

    There is no one size fits all solution and all available options and technologies need to be utilised where appropriate. Decentralisation of energy networks into interconnected micro-grids may also play a role with incorporated smart metering and localised energy storage.

    The energy team, in the company I work for, frequently use the term disruption to describe the changes that are coming to our energy infrastructure.

  78. Hyperactive Hydrologist says:

    Just to clarify, wind and solar don’t have the water requirement for generation.

  79. BBD says:

    @Rust

    Nothing like the big picture to silence both the renewables and nuclear claques. Thanks.

  80. Dave_Geologist says:

    Didn’t a bunch of US coal-fired power stations in the US fail during last winter’s cold snap because the coal iced up and could be shovelled into the furnaces? And IIRC Tesla’s Australian mega-battery stopped a blackout when it kicked in to support the grid, either due to a sudden failure of a conventional plant or a grid distribution problem.

    Also IIRC correctly nukes don’t cope gracefully with unexpected flooding that disables their emergency generators. Although better forward planning can help with that, as with the UK case a few years ago where flooding was worse than it needed to be because the emergency pumps failed when their location got flooded. Oops!

  81. Canman says:

    On the subject of batteries, I recently ran across (by surreptitiously reading Mr. Unicorn Dust — Mark Jacobson’s — Tweets) claims to a zinc air battery breakthrough by the billionaire owner of the LA Times:

    https://www.cnbc.com/2018/09/27/cheaper-battery-is-unveiled-as-a-step-to-a-carbon-free-grid.html?__source=sharebar

    This seems like it could be such a significant story, I’m surprised it’s been pretty much ignored. Renewable advocates usually go gaga over any hint of a possible battery breakthrough. BTW batteries can also be used to store nuclear electricity.

  82. TTauriStellarBody says:

    “Of course, I do think it is worth thinking about how to engage with those who are pre-disposed to reject the risks associated with climate change, and some are indeed doing so (Katharine Hayhoe, for example). However, I don’t think this is easy and I don’t really think that if climate communicators had behaved differently in the past that it would have made much different to where we are today.”

    We need to get professional and treat it like any other group with a message to sell does. The other side of the mirror, the K Street\Madison Avenue etc types hired to push the “alternative science” do this.
    Its not an academic debate where s\he with the best citations wins.
    Its not a debate club where the most colourful argument wins.
    Its a political knife fight i a telephone booth and we brought a pencil sharpener.

    Its not the people who reject the science we should be worried about. By the time they are won over the battle would be over. Its those who think climate change is real but are not either going to change themselves or their votes. Running things like focus groups or more academic mechanisms for exploring human motivation to not ask “do you think climate change is real” but to identify the values those who think climate change is real but are not doing enough hold to be their dearest and working how to link our messaging on climate to their deeper psyche.

    We may have a near bottomless pit of good will from people who can do this professionally or academically who we are not really tapping into.

    Turn it 180 degrees and stop responding, start taking the initiative.
    For each country we need to identify who the people most amiable to acting on climate change who are not doing so are at the moment and finding messages that engage their core values with why acting on climate change reinforces those values.

  83. John Hartz says:

    Jeffery Sachs pulls no punches in his CNN op-ed posted today…

    President Donald Trump, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, and others who oppose action to address human-induced climate change should be held accountable for climate crimes against humanity. They are the authors and agents of systematic policies that deny basic human rights to their own citizens and people around the world, including the rights to life, health, and property. These politicians have blood on their hands, and the death toll continues to rise.

    Trump’s failure to fight climate change is a crime against humanity, Opinion by Jeffrey Sachs, CNN, Oct 18, 2018

    It’s no wonder that Trump and his minions vehemently oppose US participation in the World Court, ,

  84. With batteries, it’s all about the matrix, and that’s not even close to being perfected.

  85. Ken Fabian says:

    “Relying on public mobilization and exposing denial” has rather been forced on those of us who are informed and who care.

    Don’t mention denial? It’s people in positions of influence and responsibility, who we really should want to know better – who we absolutely depend on to have sufficient good judgement to know better – indulging in denial that have made it necessary. Not so much because they don’t know better (though quite a lot apparently don’t) but because they don’t care enough to want to know better.

    Or perhaps they don’t care enough. Or, to be fair, care about other things more, leaving not enough care left for complex, long term things they don’t necessarily understand.

    The denial isn’t specifically or exclusively denial of the validity of climate science, but extends to denial of the economics of the required transition (deny or ignore the accumulating harms) and to simple denial of the importance and significance of climate change. And perhaps giving in to that too human urge to look the other way, don’t get involved, leave the big mess for someone else to sort out.

    As for the technologies we might favour – like others have pointed out, very few people here rate as active opponents of nuclear energy or show any signs of unthinkingly following some kind of generic Green/Friends of the Earth/Greenpeace line on this. A real political commitment to fixing the climate problem from people and political parties who do like and trust nuclear would be welcomed by me and I suspect most of the regulars here. We can build more solar and wind and more storage – and we are. Stopping that looks like the goal, not the building lots of nuclear.

    Rather than blindly following some mythical Green agenda, I see people here who have looked into it and thought about it and see real problems with the “just build lots of nuclear power plants, problem fixed – I would if I thought the climate problem was serious” line. Whilst I tend to focus on that “if” and the consequences for nuclear of “if I don’t” (denial), there are other serious issues at issue with such proposals. Now, I admit that for me, people who dispute the validity of the underlying science induce an immediate downgrading of my perceptions of their credibility as analysts – if they can’t get their heads around the nature of the problem, why would I expect them to be superior at assessing the solutions? “Just use nuclear” more usually appears less than sincere – a too simplistic catch-all ‘gotcha’ by people who don’t take the problem seriously intended to appeal most of all to others who don’t take the problem seriously. Stopping renewables is a goal that can be shared with pro-fossil fuels deniers, without upsetting them like actual commitment to fixing the problem with nuclear would.

    The Ecomodernists and other “fix it with nuclear” movements have failed to inspire ‘sensible’ conservative types to commit to anything, let alone the extreme state interventions “just build lots of nuclear power plants” requires. I think, like most of these types, they are too focused on changing the minds of imaginary green inspired renewables supporters, ie stopping renewables. They aren’t mobilising nuclear supporters locked up behind a wall of organised denial or stopping renewables.

    Don’t mention denial. Don’t mention the most insidious, damaging influence in 3 decades of climate and energy politics. Don’t mention a suppurating wound on any notions of a sane and ethical body politic. Don’t mention an influence that distorts and degrades everyone and everything it touches – excusing self serving lies and justifications for setting aside true responsibility for the sake of short term gain. It is most damaging of all to those who embrace it; by their use of it to justify irrational and unethical policy positions, such people become incapable of rational and ethical decision making.

  86. Steven Mosher says:

    “Its a political knife fight i a telephone booth and we brought a pencil sharpener.”

    ya, brilliant move

  87. Steven Mosher says:

    ” you’re denying the science that says 100% and a bit is the best scientific estimate. ”

    Hmm Gavin Schmidt put the number at 72% to 136, with 100% or so being the best estimate.
    Does him suggesting anything less than 100% make him a denier

  88. angech says:

    “worth bearing in mind fossil fuel emissions overtook land use change emissions surprisingly late on (1950s or 60s?) and had been going on for centuries (if not thousands of years)”.
    Definition of fossil fuel emissions not entirely clear to me. I presume we mean coal and oil and gas, not peat? Also that we are talking about the use of these substances by man, not by accidental environmental fossil fuel emissions earthquakes , volcanoes and fire reaching underground sources of same which have always happened.
    What piqued my interest was the thought of the peat and wood burned for millennia by humans which to me would be just a “natural” recycling of material that could or would have decomposed back to CO2 naturally [not all I know]. Also do land use change emissions also form an important part of anthropogenic causation in the bigger scheme of things.

  89. angech says:

    Steven Mosher says: “Its a political knife fight in a telephone booth and we brought a pencil sharpener.”
    A dark alley is probably the best place to hide from a mugger. Hope it is a big pencil sharpener.
    A. Yes B. Yes C. Do you believe that nukes are the best chance of providing baseload? The best, No, a good effective tool yes
    D would you actively fight against a solar or wind installation? No
    E in the end do you think we need every tool at our disposal because the future is hard to predict? No. One would never go out of the house with that sort of thinking. Just a couple of good effective tools that work.

  90. Boring, Forrest Gump. Specially cuz you you always wanna pretend you be the oh-so-objective (not-the-author-of-the-Crutape-Letters-no-of-course-not-me-rushing-to-a-wrong-conclusion!)… voice of “can’t we all just get along?”/everyone-doesn’t-get-it-but-me… etc.

    Dimwit upthread you defend is saying it is less than 72%… Maybe about 50% (oddly convenient/rhetorical, no?)… Or ” I just totally reject the notion that humans caused 110% of the warming or 100% or 90%, and so forth”

    So, pretty much, yeah, he’s a denier, Forrest.

  91. By the way, he also claimed “it could be 25%”…. Stick that denial in your pipe of drive-by-stats-pleading and smoke it.

  92. Above 90% is “totally rejected” and “it could be 25%”… Ding! Ding! Ding! Do we have a winner, Alex?

  93. Nice comment, Ken Fabian.

  94. John Hartz says:

    Directly relevant to our ongoing discussion…

    Climate change is a hoax.

    Climate change is happening, but it’s not man-made.

    Climate change is man-made, but doing anything about it would destroy jobs and kill economic growth.

    These are the stages of climate denial. Or maybe it’s wrong to call them stages, since the deniers never really give up an argument, no matter how thoroughly it has been refuted by evidence. They’re better described as cockroach ideas — false claims you may think you’ve gotten rid of, but keep coming back.

    Anyway, the Trump administration and its allies — put on the defensive by yet another deadly climate change-enhanced hurricane and an ominous United Nations report — have made all of these bad arguments over the past few days. I’d say it was a shocking spectacle, except that it’s hard to get shocked these days. But it was a reminder that we’re now ruled by people who are willing to endanger civilization for the sake of political expediency, not to mention increased profits for their fossil-fuel friends.

    Donald and the deadly deniers, Opinion by Paul Krugman, The Berkshire Eagle, Oct 16, 2018

  95. Marco says:

    “Does him suggesting anything less than 100% make him a denier”

    That’s pretty disingenuous, Steven, considering that you add this as a comment to Dave’s 100% being the best scientific estimate (which Gavin also says), while ignoring that RickA has 100% as a “no-go area”, and also suggested 75% as his upper limit (while being Gavin’s lower limit).

    You might want to make a drawing of that. Not sure if mine below works (A=best estimate)

    0 50 100 150
    RickA ************A***************
    Gavin ************A************
    Dave A

  96. Dave_Geologist says:

    Does him suggesting anything less than 100% make him a denier

    No. Close enough in horseshoes. OTOH if he said 50%, no more, yes. But he didn’t say that. And while he’s narrowed the range, that’s fair enough – just different percentiles. It’s when you narrow it from one and that the problem starts, whichever end you chose (someone who claimed it was 200%, no less would be just as bad).

  97. Dave_Geologist says:

    Peat is often thousands of years old angech. In Scotland, up to about 5,000 when the climate got wetter and blanket bog replaced forest. If you strip that down to soil and burn it, you’re burning 5,000 years’ worth of sequestration in a year. Not recycling.

  98. John Hartz says:

    Speaking of the use of large batteries in the real world, not the in the abstract….

    There has been a huge amount of interest in, and a huge amount written about – particularly on this website – the success of the Tesla big battery in South Australia.

    But another big battery, the Newman battery storage project, installed just over a year ago in a private-only grid in the Pilbara serving mostly mining industry customers in Australia’s north-west, is having just as profound an impact on the way people think about the grid.

    The 35MW/11.4MWh Kokam lithium-ion battery was installed in September last year by Alinta, next to its 178MW Mt Newman gas-fired generator, which supplies mining operations such as Gina Rinehart’s Roy Hill facility. But not much has been said about it until it applied for, and won, a major engineering award.

    The reason was simple. Like the Neoen/Tesla big battery, the Newman battery has shown that it is faster, smarter, cheaper, and more reliable than the fossil fuel generators around it.

    In this instance, the battery has done what most experts thought it could not do – provide sufficient inertia to the local grid in the absence of thermal generators. “There is no real difference when compared to mechanical (rotating mass) systems,” the compact says.

    The “other” big battery that has quietly changed thinking about the grid by Giles Parkinson, Renew Economy, Oct 15, 2018

  99. BBD says:

    There’s an unfortunate tendency for people to confuse the application of batteries for compensating short-term intermittency (hours) with the problem of dealing with multi-day intermittency. Talking a lot about the former – and its falling cost – does not in any way address the latter.

  100. John Hartz says:

    Does anyone happen to know how many homes in Australia have been able to go off-the-grid by using solar and battery combinations?

  101. Dave_Geologist says:

    That’s where molten salt comes in, BBD.

    MOLTEN SALT ENERGY STORAGE

    They have to spin up steam turbines so don’t have the instant responsiveness of batteries, but they’re claiming only 1°F heat loss per day from a 1050°F storage tank. Although obviously you don’t have all of that as a working temperature range, only down to the freezing point of the salt.

  102. Dave_Geologist says:

    MOLTEN SALT ENERGY STORAGE
    Correct hyperlink.

  103. BBD says:

    Molten salt is overnight for CSP, not days in a row, DG.

  104. BBD says:

    I should add that it’s great for high insolation region CSP – eg Morocco – where it potentially means 24 hour solar, but it’s not so much use in temperate mid-latitudes, which is why large-scale CSP is confined to high insolation latitudes.

  105. Dave_Geologist says:

    It says 1°F per day BBD, so I’d have thought you could use it for multi-days if not weeks. If it’s tied to a PV or mirror array, you’d obviously have an issue with maximum as well as minimum working temperatures because you don’t want to turn the collectors off when the sun is shining. And as you say, the big projects I’ve seen mentioned use mirrors not PV, because once you’ve got electricity, it would be inefficient to turn it into heat then back to electricity. With mirrors you just go directly to heat and store it until you need the electricity. But China and India, for example have deserts and large populations to supply. And there are rich Middle Eastern countries with populations in the tens of millions and a large per-capita carbon footprint. Egypt has lots of offshore gas but restricts export because domestic demand is so high. Oman is going down the same path with Kazzan.

    And you can use it in a mix even if it is costly to be intermittent. Electric heating of well-insulated tanks could be quite efficient. Perhaps even immersion heaters, with suitable shielding form the salt. It’s a lot of idle investment, but so were the peak-shaving UK offshore gas fields like Sean, which was contracted to supply only 60 days per year, and had vastly more wells than it needed, but got paid a fixed standby fee and a premium rate in compensation.

  106. BBD says:

    It says 1°F per day BBD, so I’d have thought you could use it for multi-days if not weeks.

    It’s the capacity that’s the issue – MS doesn’t deal in GWh, but in MWh. For GWh, you need pumped hydro.

  107. BBD says:

    While CSP and SPV are a good fit for equatorial latitudes, CSP really does need high insolation to work and SPV suffers a big output drop in winter, which is why SPV is actually highly problematic at scale in the energy mix once you get into the midlatitudes. Wind is a better fit for midlatitudes, but suffers from wide area mutliday lulls in winter. These pose a problem to which only very large scale PHES seems to offer a solution.

  108. John Hartz says:

    Until engaging in this comment thread, I was not aware of Richard Arnett’s blogging history. I have to wonder is his schtick isn’t a covert operation to promote the interests of the large electric utilities.
    The new fleet of nuclear power plants that he envisions would presumably be owned and operated by large electric utilities. During the period between now and when the proposed new nuclear plants come on line, the status of large electric utilities would be “protected” by resisting plans to go full speed ahead on the deployment of renewable energy. They would continue to rely on fossil fuels during the transition,

  109. verytallguy says:

    Wot BBD said

    There’s an unfortunate tendency for people to confuse the application of batteries for compensating short-term intermittency (hours) with the problem of dealing with multi-day intermittency. Talking a lot about the former – and its falling cost – does not in any way address the latter

    And even BBD is optimistic

    For GWh, you need pumped hydro.

    But for multiday intermittency you need TWh (UK electricity currently ~1TWh/day)

  110. BBD says:

    And even BBD is optimistic

    I’m sorry vtg; I won’t do it again.

    Here’s something that Rust pointed me at a while back. It throws a bucket of cold water over PHES, so to speak. Dunno about you, but sometimes I feel uneasy about the future.

  111. Richard Arrett says:

    BBD:

    Yes, the problem of power storage is not a small one, and the article you link to points out some of the problems. This is why I call 100% renewable pie in the sky. Because we haven’t solved the problem of what to do when it is dark and not windy.

    You do not have that problem with nuclear power, because it is baseload and not intermittent.

  112. Dave_Geologist says:

    BBD, one advantage of pumped storage is that it’s really old, really low tech and lasts for more than 50 years with very little maintenance. Cruachan in Scotland (which is so old I visited it on a school trip around 1970) has 7 GWh storage capacity and was originally built to use cheap off-peak nuclear electricity for daily load-balancing. So leveraging a baseload source rather than levelling intermittent sources. But storage is storage and it’s still operating. And represents about 1% of out 1 TWh/day (on the basis that you’re never going to have everything offline unless we have a Carrington Event – in which case the grid will be fried anyway).

    The station is capable of generating 440 megawatts … It can go from standby to full production in two minutes, or thirty seconds if compressed air is used to start the turbines spinning. When the top reservoir is full, Cruachan can operate for 22 hours before the supply of water is exhausted. … The power station is required to keep a 12-hour emergency water supply in order to provide a black start capability to the National Grid, to enable utilities to be restarted without access to external power. … The power station is required to keep a 12-hour emergency water supply in order to provide a black start capability to the National Grid, to enable utilities to be restarted without access to external power./blockquote>

    So at present only half the nameplate capacity is available for cycling (or two-thirds – it’s ambiguous whether the 12 hours comes of of the 22 or is additional), but when every power station has its own battery pack, you won’t need centralised black-start capacity. The actual dam is quite small because the reservoir is high up and you use pipes to provided the head. Obviously that needs the right topography and wouldn’t work everywhere.

    Horses for courses and we’ll need a mix of technologies. Also a mix of providers. Cruachan’s owner, Scottish Power, has just sold it and some gas-fired stations to the owner of the huge Drax coal-fired plant, to focus on renewables. Which suggests that (a) Drax sees the writing on the wall and is looking at a life after coal, but with gas as an intermediate step, and (b) the renewable market may separate out into specialist generators and specialist storers, intermediated by a specialist transporter (the grid).

  113. Windchaser says:

    Yes, the problem of power storage is not a small one, and the article you link to points out some of the problems. This is why I call 100% renewable pie in the sky. Because we haven’t solved the problem of what to do when it is dark and not windy.

    The obvious solution is just to build solar panels at the N. and S. Poles. Should always be shining somewhere, right?

  114. BBD says:

    Dave

    The problem with PHES is one of scale. You might find this an interesting perspective on the scale of PHES in the UK necessary to back up a 33GW nameplate capacity national windfleet. Then take a look at the link in my previous comment to vtg.

  115. Joshua says:

    Richard –

    This is why I call 100% renewable pie in the sky.

    You haven’t really dug into the practical economic realities of large scale nuclear energy build up.

    How confident are you that your view on nuclear isn’t pie in the sky?

  116. BBD says:

    You do not have that problem with nuclear power

    Even the more optimistic mid-century scenarios can only get nuclear up to about 30% of global electricity generation. So that’s (at best) 30% of the 25% of global emissions from electricity generation dealt with.

    As I have tried to explain to you before, many times, nuclear just isn’t a silver bullet for emissions abatement. I wonder why this never sticks in your head – along with anything else that is carefully explained, over and over again?

    Could you simply be trying to irritate people? A decade in, and one does begin to wonder.

  117. Richard Arrett says:

    Joshua and BBD:

    Nothing needs to be invented to roll out nuclear power. It is already invented and ready to build. Fourth generation passive cooling designs are ready to go. As the coal plants reach end of life, they would have to be replaced anyway, so why not replace them with nuclear plants? Pick a single design and reduce regulations and the cost of building the plants will drop, especially as the number of plants built increases.

    That is not the case with renewables, which needs some form of massive power storage invented.

    There is simply no technological reason we couldn’t use nuclear to provide 80% of the electrical generation of either the USA or the world. We could also easily reprocess all the spent existing fuel, which is just sitting around at the existing nuclear sites generating wasted heat. This would also decrease the problem of nuclear waste.

    Of course nobody listens to me – but I believe the world will someday reluctantly double, than triple and than quadruple nuclear power (at least in the USA). I believe people will work on thorium reactors to reduce the risk of nuclear weapon proliferation. I think that is the technology we will end up using to lower CO2 emissions.

    Of course I could be wrong.

    I will be passively watching, to see what happens, just like everybody else.

  118. Joshua says:

    Richard –

    That doesn’t answer my question.

    I have read quite a few discussions of the economics that make your desire for a huge build up of nuclear look pie in the sky.

    If you can’t even give a comprehensive explanation for how a nuclear build up would be financed, then your desire looks to me like little more than wishful thinking.

    It’s always interesting to see when people are willing to suspend disbelief. Methinks you are displaying a selective suspension of disbelief that reflects your political orientation – more than some kind of objective analysis.

    Which is, of course, entirely your right.

  119. John Hartz says:

    Richard Arrett: Upstream I documented the nuclear power plant fiasco we have on our hands here in South Carolina. How does that square with your unbridled optimism abut being able the construct a fleet of new nuclear power plants on schedule and under-budget?

    Also, who will bear the costs of the catastrophic losses if one your new nuclear power plants were to melt down?

    Fourth generation passive cooling designs may be ready to go but has one ever been constructed?

    Also, how do you know the designs are “ready to go”?

  120. BBD says:

    Nothing needs to be invented to roll out nuclear power.

    Oh my. Please, go and find me a plausible estimate from recognised sources that shows nuclear >30% of global electricity generation by mid-century.

    And which bit of this didn’t you understand:

    So that’s (at best) 30% of the 25% of global emissions from electricity generation dealt with.

    As I have tried to explain to you before, many times, nuclear just isn’t a silver bullet for emissions abatement.

    Ignoring stuff and repeating yourself isn’t developing the discussion. But we’ve been through this a few times, haven’t we?

  121. Ken Fabian says:

    My own oft stated view is that climate change denial in it’s various manifestations – the denial that we aren’t supposed to call out, that supposedly is counterproductive to call out – is the single biggest political problem a big build nuclear policy has. (No climate problem, no need; not opposition but absence of support). That denial is also the single biggest problem renewables and storage at needed scales has. It is the single biggest problem that non-tech specific policies like carbon pricing have failed to gain traction – which would help nuclear’s economics, have. Denial politicking’s high profile, well supported counter-messaging is the principle reason science communications have not been effective enough and communications style will always be inadequate to deal with it.

    Denial in this has no redeeming features, not even in it’s “just want to be sure” guise.

    Even the notion that governments and policy makers have just wanted to be very sure before taking precipitous actions inverts the reality that precipitous actions (high emissions) are going on without restraint and delaying decisions helps enable and perpetuate them. The idea that we should wait until we have better solutions enables them.

    Having asked for expert advice and not liked it, obstructive, denialist policy makers set it aside and asked for different expert advice. And not liked that advice either (it being not substantially different to the first advice)… and went asking for other advice, ultimately from non-experts (the sort tankthink can provide), because those kinds can give the advice they wanted all along – the advice that (real) experts should not be trusted and there is no serious climate problem other than the problem that lots of people think there is a climate problem.

  122. Ken Fabian says:

    Nuclear has a whole lot of other problems besides what I think is the biggest – a wall of denial preventing a large body of potential support from being mobilised. I’m inclined to think it most enthuses people who are enamoured by the surface appearances (including political messaging such as pro-renewables green politics alone stops nuclear). The still popular “just build lots of nuclear, problem fixed” option is in my opinion almost all surface appearance, glossing over deep problems with nuclear that go way beyond the political influence of anti-nuclear activism. That these enthusiasts are so often the same people who dispute climate science may be indicative of that willingness to go by surface appearances and accept manufactured messages targetting their preconceptions.

    One thing about renewables is we can change what we are doing very easily; very few projects at this point have construction timelines beyond a few years. Things that don’t work don’t go far – and the renewables dominated path we are on is littered with leftovers that didn’t work. Oh, there will be resistance to having enough wind and solar that storage (which may take it into the realms of long term projects) becomes necessary; periodically shed wind and solar power or shed coal and gas. Or actually commit to storage, even without certainty? But people who don’t want to gamble on uncertain future energy and storage options will, by opposing that next step, make dangerous and damaging, poorly mitigated climate change an odds on certainty.

    Actions and policies are going to continue to be inadequate to this enormous task so long as that Denial (that must not be mentioned) has such a death hold on the body politic in major nations of the world. The very idea that no actions that actually cost anything should be considered is just one of the many, many destructive consequences of elevating lies and misinformation to the level of principle policy response of mainstream political parties and governments. Denial again.

  123. Joshua says:

    One thing about renewables is we can change what we are doing very easily;

    Related – from what I’ve seen, nuclear has a very long time horizon for return on investment.

  124. John Hartz says:

    Speaking of renewable energy forecasts…

    Close to 20 percent of global power needs will be met by solar or wind energy by 2035, marking a shift from the age of oil and gas to the age of renewables, according to a new report from researchers at the consultancy Wood Mackenzie.

    The growing focus on sustainability in many parts of the world, the report says, “is almost akin to a gravitational force, pulling things in one direction and driving the ‘great fuel switch,’ leaving little possibility for a reversal.”

    Energy transitions, similar to the ongoing shift to renewables, are nothing new, Wood Mackenzie researchers write in the report released Wednesday, entitled “Thinking Global Energy Transitions: The What, If, How and When.”

    By 2035, the ‘great fuel switch’ will mark the end of the age of oil and gas, analysts expect by Mark Hand, Think Progress, Oct 17, 2018

  125. God, I wish these breathless articles about wind and solar could at least keep some perspective. Energy /= Power /= Emissions, etc.

    From the Woods Mackenzie report itself underlying the Thinkprogress pom-pom-rah-rah-siss-boom-bah, they say:

    “By 2035, close to 20% of global power needs will be met by solar or wind. Similarly, upwards of 20% of all miles travelled globally by cars, trucks, buses and bikes will use electric motors rather than gasoline or diesel.”

    This – from an emissions reduction point of view – is an almost unbelievably colossal failure relative to any of the Paris Agreement, Paris INDC’s, or (hahaha!) the 1.5C report.

    But it is framed as” great news”! 😦

    Oh well, as Bogart said “We’ll always have Paris!”

    A much more appealing narrative than “5AM, fat boys,.time to get up. 5mile run, followed by another day of building panels. Oh, and weekend leave is cancelled.”

    We’ve left this way, way too late for “20% by 2035” Especially in the two sectors that putatively leading the “revolution”.

  126. Dave_Geologist says:

    I’m not claiming PSHE or molten salt are the only solution BBD. Just that we should consider all solutions, and use the one that suits best where it suits best. Cruachan looks quite small in UK terms, but that’s because 90% of the UK population lives somewhere flat. If you treated Scotland as a separate nation, it looks like about 2%. From this graph, 10 Cruachans would provide 20% of Scotland’s capacity (more than 20% of domestic needs, because Scotland is a net exporter). There’s room for that, but people would complain, just like they do about wind farms or chopping the tops off mountains to access coal. You’d need 100 to do the same for England, but there aren’t enough mountains available for that to work, even if all else was favourable.

    One advantage of hydro is its low tech and longevity. See how it just keeps on flat, even though no new stock has been built for decades. Note also how quickly wind (AFAIK there’s no solar or tidal) overtook hydro, then O&G, then coal. In every country there will be specific factors. For instance, Scotland is disproportionately nuclear, first and second generation. It’s almost as if someone in London was scared and wanted them as far away as possible 😉 . Twenty miles from Glasgow or Edinburgh was apparently OK though. (But the same people put two nuclear submarine bases and a nuclear arms dump 20-30 miles upwind of Glasgow, so they probably thought civil nuclear was no big deal in comparison). I expect that over time, as storage grows, national grids will make less sense so it’s fair to look at subdivisions such as States or Provinces. Scotland has just built a big pylon line to take wind power from the north to the populated central belt. It would be silly to apply the same capacity upgrade all the way to London, because it will be used long before it gets there. It would be silly to to supply Adelaide from increased hydro in the eastern mountains, when you can build solar next door. But maybe not to supply Queensland, if you have to cut down lots of rainforest to install wind or solar.

    There will always be local economic factors. For instance the last Scottish coal station has now closed. It was probably struggling economically as well as CO2-wise, because it was meant to be supplied from a local coal mine which closed prematurely due to unexpectedly severe faulting and flooding, and had to switch to imports. The surprising drop in gas will have been Peterhead. It had a dedicated supply of sour gas (H2S-rich) from an offshore field which has been decommissioned. Sour gas has a deeply discounted price because it’s a buyer’s market, and as a first-generation plant it would have struggled to compete when it had to pay market price for gas. I see they’re planning to install a diesel-powered black-start facility there, and Shell are in a consortium seeking government funding to help build a new integrated generation/CCS pilot plant.

    When it comes to comparing batteries with other storage schemes, you also have to consider whether your controlling factor is cost or efficiency. If you have super-abundant PV or wind, molten salt or PSHE may be the right solution, even though it’s less efficient, if it costs three times less and lasts twice as long. If you’re supply constrained, you’ll just have to bite the bullet and install batteries. If batteries are cheaper and more efficient, great. If you think they’ll only get to that point in 10-20 years time, you have to think about the timing of investment. Changing our energy source is going to cost, and choosing a more costly solution over a less costly one, because it’s nice and shiny or looks greener to the public, is just another way of making the perfect the enemy of the good.

  127. Dave_Geologist says:

    That must be why Hinckley Point C is being built with foreign state-owned capital and guaranteed a price per kWh which will pay back the investment even if, as seems likely, it will be above the market price.

    Shame we don’t do that any more for wind.

  128. BBD says:

    In the midlatitudes, when there is a prolonged wide areal lull in windspeed, particularly in winter when solar generation is down at its seasonal minimum, there needs to be a very, very large scale energy store available to fill in for the dropout. My point is that it is – at present – not at all clear how this can ever be done. PHES at the required scale would be so expensive as to make nuclear look cheap. It would also require decades to build and there is no evidence of any interest on the part of planners – let alone investors – in doing this.

    At no point does this involve the perfect being the enemy of the good.

  129. BBD says:

    When it comes to comparing batteries with other storage schemes, you also have to consider whether your controlling factor is cost or efficiency.

    The controlling factor is capacity, as I mentioned earlier. No known battery technology can provide the multi GWh capacity necessary to take over from a national windfleet for days at a time.

    Batteries don’t cut it at this scale. They are, effectively, irrelevant.

  130. Patrick Brown, in that bloggingheadsTV video that Joshua linked to (49:00 to 50:00), states that a Stanford modelling study indicates that storage costs need to fall by a factor of 1,000 to make renewables + storage competitive with fossil fuel power on a like-to-like fully-deployed basis. Yikes.

    Anyone know what research he is referring to?

  131. BBD says:

    I’m afraid I don’t, Rust, but it seems a rather high figure. Bet it ignores the externalised cost of FFs, though.

  132. BBD says:

    If anyone would like to see what a pan-European wind lull looks like, then now is your chance. (Please be patient while the app loads).

    Here’s what it did to German wind generation over the last six days.

    These wide area lulls do happen. As we can all clearly see. So all the airy talk of the wind blowing somewhere is moot. Somehow, in the fairly near future, if we scale wind to a significant part of the energy mix, it will need to be backed up against lulls like these and not by fossil fuels as is currently the case. Or there will be no deep decarbonisation of the electricity supply.

  133. Ken Fabian says:

    Steven – Not supporting nuclear because of being okay with – heavily committed to – fossil fuels and denying the seriousness of the climate problem to justify being okay doesn’t even make it into the zmescience article’s claimed reasons the world isn’t covered in nuclear plants. It should – “..people are afraid of nuclear energy, because mushroom clouds and whatnot” was treated as the entirety of nuclear’s political problems. Which looks like a dumbed down caricature version rather than reflect the real complexity of the politics.

    Denial has been very, very bad for the “just build lots of nuclear” option. It still is. But too many nuclear proponents refuse to promote nuclear on the basis of climate outcomes – not wanting to take issue with the widespread climate science denial within nuclear advocacy or put themselves at odds with anti-climate action politicians and parties that profess to like nuclear.

  134. Joshua says:

    “..people are afraid of nuclear energy, because mushroom clouds and whatnot”

    Par for the course. Paint concern about the risks of nuclear simply as irrational, fomented by hippies.

    Hippies are to blame. Let’s punch hippies.

    That way, the desire for indentity-aggression and identity defense can be satisfied. No need to deal with the logistical and economic obstacles of a massive nuclear build up. No need to reconcile that the many of the same people who advocate nuclear would be the biggest obstacle to funding nuclear.

    Nuclear energy advocacy can effectively serve as a stealth bomber. Promote nuclear because it’s a convenient way to gain satisfaction, and a sense of power, from punching hippies.

  135. BBD says:

    Nuclear energy advocacy can effectively serve as a stealth bomber. Promote nuclear because it’s a convenient way to gain satisfaction, and a sense of power, from punching hippies.

    Yes, ‘nuclear tr0lling’ has been another successful well-poisoning exercise by the right.

  136. BBD says:

    Not a single comment on the pan-European wind lull?

    Interesting, but disheartening.

  137. Joshua says:

    BBD –

    Yes, ‘nuclear tr0lling’ has been another successful well-poisoning exercise by the right.

    I suspect that the success of holding hippies responsible for the large set of obstacles in the way of nuclear is limited to a fairly circumscribed community of people who are heavily engaged in the subject.

    It would be interesting to see data on how the general public views the reasons why we don’t have more nuclear. I suspect that concern about the safety of nuclear is shared fairly widely across the political spectrum (although probably more prevalent on the left), and that those concerns generally diminish with scientific knowledge (across the political spectrum). My guess is that most of the public don’t think that hippies are the primary cause for the lack of nuclear, even if that is a view largely advocated by culture warriors such as those we see here in these discussions.

    And in my view, at least in the U.S., it is fairly obvious that if the logistical economic realities were brought into play, where there really was a government that was ready to support nuclear build up on a large scale, there would be a lot of resistance on the right to providing the necessary funding, perhaps even more than from the left – which generally seems to be more favorable towards funding infrastructure development.

    Trump’s use of rhetoric about infrastructure may well be instructive. Lots of talk about it during the campaign, almost no talk about it once in office, and completely dropped as a legislative focus after the election – presumably because enacting actual legislation would require support on the right for federal spending, on an issue for which there is no obvious political advantage (such as federal spending on a wall or the military – the kinds of federal spending that magically escape the rightwing’s moral and philosophical objections to federal spending because it constricts personal freedom). 🙂

  138. BBD said:
    “Not a single comment on the pan-European wind lull?”

    I have done research on cumulative wind velocity distribution, which is interesting in terms of its variability. Regional data typically follows a maximum entropy distribution identified by a mean value. I have examples for Germany and Oregon in a forthcoming monograph.

    Noticed that this paper also covers the general idea:
    https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/4938/0114efdb92dcf670eaf149c0a6257e666619.pdf

    As far as showing widespread lulls, if that is what is observed, do need to address that issue.

  139. BBD says:

    And in my view, at least in the U.S., it is fairly obvious that if the logistical economic realities were brought into play, where there really was a government that was ready to support nuclear build up on a large scale, there would be a lot of resistance on the right to providing the necessary funding, perhaps even more than from the left – which generally seems to be more favorable towards funding infrastructure development.

    Yes, that would be likely IMO. Nuclear also requires Big Regulation which implies Big Gubmint and Big Spending. Not likely to go down too well with the minarchist types at all.

  140. Ken Fabian says:

    BBD – renewables growth will have to move from piecemeal bits at a time into the realms of major projects – major transmission upgrades linking Nth Africa/Middle East wind and solar to Europe and vice versa. Pumped hydro – for which are serious project proposals in Australia and will give us real numbers for how much they cost. The seriousness with which policy makers take the climate problem and diminished divisiveness and actual opposition will remain crucial – as crucial for the renewables approach at the unprecedented scales needed as to any nuclear resurgence at the unprecedented scales needed.

    Coordinated demand management, aggregations of small storage as well as dedicated batteries at large scale, oversizing solar and wind capacity, efficiency, variable pricing… I don’t think we can get away with a “no cost” threshold, where we only replace fossil fuels when it is cheaper approach for long. Perhaps the current conditions, where new wind and solar are cheaper than other new capacity, will be a temporary aberration – the complimentary technologies needed for wind and solar to replace fossil fuels effectively will get cheaper but we cannot count on it being (at a whole of system level) cheaper than fossil fuels without carbon pricing that make climate costs part of the price calculations. That bit of cheatery – a perpetual amnesty on external costs – cannot persist with a genuine commitment to the goal of climate stabilisation.

  141. John Hartz says:

    rustneversleeps: Is Bob Literman’s* assessment blunt enough for you?

    https://news.wp.prod.gios.asu.edu/files/2018/10/Litterman-climate-change20181019.pdf

    *Bob Litterman is a founding partner of Kepos Capital and Chairman of the Risk Committee. He previously headed risk management for Goldman, Sachs & Co. and is the co-developer of the Black-Litterman Global Asset Allocation Model. He is also a member of the board of directors of ASU’s Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability.

  142. Canman says:

    Here’s another possible energy storage breakthrough:

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2018/10/26/space-race-game-changer-chinese-space-elevator-breakthrough/

    Carbon nanotubea for space elevators could be used for flywheels. Tensile strength is a limiting factor for flywheels.

  143. Dave_Geologist says:

    It would be more convincing if it came from a reputable source Canman (holds nose and dips toe in water).

    So, let’s see (rounding). 100 kW motor. 100 mile range from a 50 kWh battery. 10,000 miles is 5,000 kWh. The equivalent of five tonnes of TNT. Under controlled conditions one kilogram of TNT can destroy (or even obliterate) a small vehicle
    . No, thank you. I’ll settle for a few hundred miles at a time.

  144. Canman says:

    Dave_Geologist,
    I’m thinking more in the context of grid storage. Nano-carbon tube flywheels could be put underground where their biggest hazard would probably be perforating the bowels of local sewage systems. If this material can be made cheep enough, it would have the advantage of small size. Currently, pumped hydro storage involves moving startling large amounts of water up long distances — something like lifting a bath tub’s worth to the top of the Empire State Building to run a toaster (I’m just guessing, but I’m probably within an order of magnitude). And this is currently the cheapest form of grid storage!

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