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February 21, 2014

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Adding some links to tidal generation of electric power in the Bay of Fundy, Maine coast.
http://singularityhub.com/2012/11/01/first-offshore-turbine-for-u-s-begins-feeding-power-to-maines-grid/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bay_of_Fundy

Coincidentally, I'm attending an energy conference at MIT. Some take homes- for battery power to smooth out the irregularities of wind and solar power forget lithium batteries. What is needed are batteries as cheap as dirt and made from local dirt. Prof. Donald Sadoway on his "liquid battery".

Also, "Nobody cares about energy efficiency, but they can be made to care about saving money", from a group of entrepreneurs partnered with utility companies to decrease demand. One of their clients is the GSA.

I appreciate the articles. And I'm glad that the authors note that development is still in its infancy.

But I really, really wish that (with that caveat) they would give some numbers on manufacturing costs (and maybe estimated costs in production, rather than prototypes). And some idea of what power generation costs per KWH are now, vs what other sources are. And what they would be (in various locations, if it varies like I suspect it will) once generators are in regular production.

Because I saw the Bay of Fundy prototype on vacation, I was impressed.

Another session at MIT was called "From lab space to marketplace: bridging the valley of death for emerging energy technologies" which spoke to the current absence of venture capitalists in that sector. The cost differential between a hand made prototype and a production model can be quite extreme, so current cost comparisons can be illusory.

As you know, sea water is extremely corrosive and waves can destroy most any structure, so working models need to be observed for quite a while to prove reliability.

Fair enough.

Although if Pelamis is on its sixth copy of the current prototype model, they must feel like the have a handle on the durability problem. They may be wrong, of course. But at the least I would expect they think that they have made some major strides.

A worthwhile technology in some places, but it's worth remembering that waves, at least, are driven by the wind, and so wave power can only represent a fraction of the power available from wind. (Though perhaps concentrated in some circumstances.) And the amount of power available from the wind is limited, natural processes only place so much energy into moving air, and hence moving water, and only so much of it could feasibly be extracted.

It's been estimated that the total amount of power available from wind/waves is on the order of one to several terawatts. Per capita energy consumption in the US is maybe 13KW. So you're looking at a global potential to provide enough energy to support maybe 80 million people, perhaps several times that.

Not insignificant, not world changing. Just a reminder that human energy consumption is approaching the same scale as natural global energy flows, limiting the extent to which those flows can be tapped to provide our energy. ALL energy technologies with the potential to power civilization have significant levels of impact on nature.

Who says that a single form of energy (or to be more precise: electricity) production is the panacea? Most people think that it will always be a mix and in some contexts it is very likely to include oxidation of organic compounds, just not the majority anymore.
Btw, my personal views on nuclear power is that as long as there is such rampant malfeasance, corruption, incompetence and criminal neglect as we have witnessed in this business this business has has no business staying in business for the foreseeable future. (and I am all for making it mandatory for the profiteers of nuclear power to always reside on the premises so the safety becomes a personal concern).

While I don't know about the percentages, I would note that the article is about wave AND tidal power. I leave it to the more math inclined to figure out how much energy is there and what percentage we would need to extract. The article makes another point, which is that the location is close to population centers where the energy is needed.

"Just a reminder that human energy consumption is approaching the same scale as natural global energy flows, "

A fair point regarding tidal power, but solar power striking the earth is 10**17 watts or so. Human power consumption is about 10**13 watts, I think.

On a different subject--
A link I saw at Digby's blog about totally gratuitous police brutality in San Francisco link

Digby collects stories like this. It's one reason why I often feel some kinship with libertarians. You can tell that in the story some of the decent cops knew that the system allows cops to abuse their authority, but they didn't or couldn't prevent the abuse.

Yes, and this does imply that you could run our current civilization off solar, if you covered a percent or so of the Earth's surface with solar cells. Neglecting storage requirements, or a global superconducting power grid.

Storage is kind of expensive at the moment, and a global power grid implies the possibility of global blackouts, not to mention the geopolitical implications of being reliant on someplace halfway around the world for your power at night, and the places in between for it getting to you.

But, still, eventually solar will likely power our civilization. Eventually. Right now, that's not a realistic option, and, as we saw in Germany, the choice is actually between nuclear and fossil fuels.

I'd add that wind power is just reprocessed solar power, and so is a fraction of what's available from solar. While wave power is just reprocessed wind power, and so is a fraction of a fraction.

Tidal power is impressive in the Bay of Fundy because the bay resonates with the tidal cycle. This makes it a lot easier to extract, but doesn't actually increase the available energy. You'd damp the resonance as you approached extracting all of it.

Still, there's room for niche sources, where nature concentrates something enough to be locally worth exploiting. For instance, there are areas around the poles where there are essentially perpetual gale force winds. Well worth extracting, even given the environmental extremes, if the poles weren't by international agreement off limits.

Personally, living in the SC Piedmont region, I'm looking into installing heat pipes in the back yard. Ought to be able to keep a green house warm enough for citrus year round.

Even when the ice age kicks in. ;)

Brett, just because I'm curious. What should we be doing?

You note that tidal power is limited, and so not a panacea. And solar is limited by the area that can be covered (not to mention the hours available), and so not a panacea. And wind is limited by where and when it actually blows, and so not a panacea. And, of course, hydrocarbons are also limited, and so not a panacea.

But then, nuclear (fission) reactants are also limited. So what, exactly, are you seeing as the way forward? Nobody, that I have heard of, has managed to do anything significant with fusion yet.

Or do we just run wild with what ever we are doing at the moment, and figure to morrow will take care of itself?

Well, nuclear is limited, in the sense that at some point, the waste heat would become excessive. Not in the sense that it isn't sufficient to power all of our current society. It's not really fuel limited, we have enough nuclear fuel already mined to last a century or so, and we know enough is available to last geologic time periods.

Fusion managed something significant at Bikini island, or so I hear. The truth is that, if you had to, you could build power plants around fusion bombs. We figured out how to do that back in the 60's, during the push to find civilian uses for nuclear bombs.

But the truth about fusion is that we don't particularly need it, and that's why we didn't build those plants. And if we figured out how to build a fusion plant today, they wouldn't get built. They'd be more expensive than fission, and have no particular advantage in the radiation department unless you managed the much more difficult aneutronic fusion.

Fusion is a dream held forth by people who want to end industrial society, to scale the human population back to hunter-gather levels. It's the perfect they make the enemy of the good enough. Get it working, and they'd reject it, too.

Brett:

Fusion managed something significant at Bikini island, or so I hear. The truth is that, if you had to, you could build power plants around fusion bombs. We figured out how to do that back in the 60's

Do you have a cite for that? I've heard some cockeyed theories about how *in theory* that could be done (project PACER, etc), but there were/are a lot of practical problems in using this for conventional energy generation.

Pacer was what I had in mind. Sure, there are practical problems with it, but they're standard engineering practical problems, not "Whole new speculative technologies would have to be developed" problems.

The biggest practical problem is the same problem more 'conventional' fusion has: Even if you can get it to work, it has no advantage over a fission plant, and is more expensive.

Now, when we as a species expand into space, fusion would come in handy, because hydrogen is a lot more common than fissile and fertile elements are. But, on Earth? We could base our economy off fission, and not run out of fuel for a period longer than the Sun is going to stay on the main sequence.

If you're not going to call that "renewable", why not?

I think solar energy will eventually be our main power source, but that "eventually" carries a lot of load. Nuclear is a good transitional source of energy for getting off of fossil fuels.

And it works today, economically, which is more than can be said about solar, tidal, wave, wind...

standard engineering practical problems

Survival of the blast vessel and loading mechanism under repeated 1 kt explosions is not a standard engineering problem.

Neither is the supply of nukes, which is a very non-trivial production issue.

I'd place it at the same level of practical that NIF is 'practical'. In theory they can break even or be positive. But in terms of an energy solution both are a long way off.

I'm all for nuclear as part of mix. I'm all for diversification. Basing something as important as our energy supply on a single source.

correction: "...on a single source is stupid."

Brett, is nuclear still economic if you include the cost of disposal of spent fuel? Seriously. I have the distinct impression that nuclear is only cost-competitive because it is subsidized, including the cost of creating, maintaining, and securing spent fuel dumps. (When it is even done at all. See Japan's experience with stuff just left lying about on-site.)

It may be that the cost numbers are still good. But I will be more persuaded when I see a commercial nuclear operation which has created such a fuel storage facility and is using it -- and still makes money. Or have you heard of one that simply hasn't come to my attention?

Sure, dealing with the blast is standard engineering. Doesn't require superconductors or high vacuum, just steel and concrete and reference to steam tables.

As for the 'waste', remember that almost all of it is really fuel.

Fusion is a dream held forth by people who want to end industrial society, to scale the human population back to hunter-gather levels.

?????

It's dreamed of by others, of course, but much of the verbal support for fusion comes from people who only like it because it isn't practical yet, and would reject it if we could start building the plants. As I said, the perfect they 'like' just exactly because it IS the enemy of the good they want to oppose.

Just wait, if one of the current fusion research projects (I like General Fusion, it's so steampunk.) proves out, suddenly the usual suspects will notice there's radioactive waste involved.

As for the 'waste', remember that almost all of it is really fuel.

I'd go so far as to say that it is potentially fuel. But whether you bury the waste or refine it for more fuel, you have to do something to or with it -- you can't just leave it sitting around on the back lot. And the cost of that "something" has to be figured in to the cost of operations, if your accounting is going to make any sense.

Brett:

dealing with the blast is standard engineering.

Agree to disagree? Not my area, but based on conversations with CE friends with matsci focus that is a non-trivial problem.

wj:

And the cost of that "something" has to be figured in to the cost of operations

Isn't factored in? At least in the US, the Nuclear Waste Policy Act requires plant operators to pay into the fund for a permanent repository.

No repository has been built, but I see that as more of a political problem than a cost problem. Or at least a political problem AND a cost problem.

Fission has problems, but its a greenhouse free (semi)dispatchable power source.

If we want to wean ourselves off of carbon, we're going to need multiple generation sources. Fission is readily adaptable to our grid and is suitable for meeting base demand. Since its dispatchable, it can be used in conjunction with less consistent renewable sources.

It's dreamed of by others, of course, but much of the verbal support for fusion comes from people who only like it because it isn't practical yet

I guess I travel in the wrong circles.

But the idea that a solution with the technical requirements of nuclear fusion would be a favorite of folks who want to return to a hunter-gatherer society seems just a little weird.

That doesn't mean it's not so, because there is no shortage of weird in the world. But, it's weird.

What strikes me in all of the discussion of how to deal with our energy needs is that the idea of "use less" is, somehow, missing.

To me, that seems like low hanging fruit. Easy money, left on the table. But maybe it's just me.

In any case, I doubt there is going to be One Amazing Technology that is going to be the unique and universal replacement for burning carbon. Different things are a better fit for different places, it seems to me.

It also seems to me that the easiest way to move folks off of lovely cheap ubiquitous carbon is the make it less cheap. Then let normal human ingenuity sort it out.

I live right next to the ocean, a solution based on waves that would be adequate for *where I live* would suit me to a T.

What strikes me in all of the discussion of how to deal with our energy needs is that the idea of "use less" is, somehow, missing.

That's because Jimmy Carter wore a sweater. The fact is, energy hogs will be with us until energy hogging is outlawed. And outlawing people's preferred overindulgence in energy is big government. And the era of big government is over.

That's because Jimmy Carter wore a sweater. The fact is, energy hogs will be with us until energy hogging is outlawed. And outlawing people's preferred overindulgence in energy is big government. And the era of big government is over.

Or maybe its because our society uses a lot of energy? And most conceivable energy saving policies can only shave off a very small bit of it?

If you have a practical way of reducing our energy consumption by, say, 20% (or more) without crippling our economy, I would be very interested in hearing it.

At some point, boats have to ship goods, airplanes have to fly, and refrigerators need to keep running.

I'm not sure about the precise numbers, but this article gives an idea of reductions in Japanese power consumption. Some grafs:

The Japanese are large electricity consumers; their consumption per capita reached 7,700 kWh in 2010, i.e. the same level as the OECD average but 30 % higher than the EU average. The share of electricity represented about 25% of total energy consumption in 2010, compared to 21% for the OECD average and 20% in Europe. Nuclear power contributes to more than ¼ of the electricity production, the same contribution as coal and gas.

all nuclear plants were shut down after Fukushima

In July 2011, to overcome the summer peak period of power demand in Japan, the government implemented a plan which demanded a 15% reduction in usage for all electricity consumers. Restrictions by law were passes to restrict large energy users during peak times in the service areas of Tohoku EPCO and TEPCO, the two power companies operating in the areas impacted by the earthquake. Large electricity users were required to voluntarily formulate and implement plans for reducing their power consumption during peak times (100,000 plans implemented). Article 27 of the Electricity Business Act, "Restriction on Use of Electricity," was enacted to secure the effectiveness of demand suppression and fairness among electricity users. For small electricity users, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), the Ministry in charge of the energy sector, presented examples of electricity-saving measures related to lighting, AC, etc., and encouraged consumers to formulate and implement voluntary energy-saving action plans to achieve the target.

This doesn't give us the 20%, however, it was

This reduction was effective in all sectors, in particular in residential and commercial, where it was a voluntary action (consumption reduction of 15% in summer 2011 compared to 2010).

The article points out the caveat that 2011 was cool compared to other summers. While I don't think it crippled the economy, it could be argued that it did handicap Japan quite a bit. Still, this was with voluntary action, so it seems possible.

I think that one of the key things is a feed-in-tariff, which mandates that electric companies purchase electricity produced by renewable energy. As I understand it, that is what has given Germany its big lead in renewables.

LJ:

It's a fair point. 15% can be done by voluntary action in residential and commercial (40% of the US consumption, roughly). And I assume it was matched in the industrial sector as required by law, which probably reduced production.

In addition to being far below the emissions control projected as necessary by Hansen, et al (not that I totally by their projections), is likely a very tough political sell with high unemployment.

I wasn't trying to argue against energy conservation as a component to the solution. But the problem isn't a simple one.

And renewables are also a great source of power, not disagreeing. But if you to drop carbon emissions, its not going to be renewables in the near term. Nor is it going to be rationing.

There are several promising technologies (wind, solar, tidal, etc). None of them are there yet. In all fairness, neither is transmutation.

It's really hard to predict what technology will ultimately succeed. Until that point, to me, it makes sense to invest in multiple technologies.

Our society uses a lot of fuel, which is not the same thing as energy.
Fuel is used up. Energy is conserved.

My house in MA requires fuel to heat in the winter and to cool in the summer. It would require less fuel if I insulated it better. To do so, I would have to encourage the manufacturers and installers of fiberglass and triple-glazed windows to the tune of many thousands of dollars. I can't think how that would be a drag on The Economy. Afterwards, of course, I would be buying less fuel, which would be a drag on The Economy. So my personal net effect on The Economy would seem to be more of a wash than a crippling blow.

Or maybe better than a wash, at this particular time. If I spend $20K on weatherizing, and replacing my ancient furnace and air conditioner, this year, I do my bit to grow this year's GDP. Any drag I impose on future years' GDP has a discounted net present value.

You might point out that I would also be doing my bit to reduce this year's GDP by $20K not spent on nice restaurant meals, vacation travel, booze, and so forth. But money, like energy, merely flows -- it does not disappear. The people I pay the $20K to can spend it on meals out, plane trips, and beer just as well as I can. The Economy is made of money changing hands.

Now, I don't know whether $20K would reduce my fuel consumption by 20%, or more, or less. What I'm fairly sure of is that ships, planes, and refrigerators (not to mention cars) can be made more efficient than they are at present -- by spending money on them. Keeping in mind that spending money means buying stuff and hiring people, I fail to see how the general case is qualitatively different from the case of my little house. I don't get how employing people to invent, produce, and implement efficiency-increasing devices and methods amounts to crippling The Economy.

Is 20% reduction in fuel use -- without giving up Our Way of Life -- physically possible? I don't know, but I suspect it is. Provided, of course, that we do not define Our Way of Life by how much fuel we use. Increasing fuel efficiency is an engineering problem, as Brett might put it. Whether it's also a political problem because some people get positive joy out of merely burning fuel is not for me to say.

BTW, just to be clear: "efficiency" is not the same as "conservation", in my vocabulary. Replacing the world's fleet of automobiles, over time, with a fleet of 20%-more-efficient ones is not the same thing as driving 20% less to get through a temporary shortage of oil.

--TP

I'm not sure why in these discussions we have to contrast existing, or even obsolete, nuclear plants, to projected solar and wind technologies. There are fission reactor designs which are supposed to achieve incredibly high "burnup", basically they 'burn' the wastes as they're generated, along with the fuel. They would actually be fueled with existing stockpiles of 'waste'. We'd be building them today, instead of obsolete plants modeled off of nuclear submarine powerplants, if progress in nuclear powerplant design hadn't been stopped by hostile regulatory agencies.

The anti-nuke movement was pretty successful in halting progress in nuclear plant design, but there are indications that their capacity to do that is about spent. Though much of the progress is likely to happen outside the US.

I think a lot of different energy sources make sense in local situations. In the Bay of Fundy you'd be a fool not to exploit tidal power, wind makes sense in places with a lot of consistent wind, solar in sunny climes, especially if you're far from the existing grid. But, solar in the frozen north? Wind in places where it doesn't blow for weeks at a time? Nah. And it makes little sense to pretend that 'renewables' are capable of powering an industrial civilization, short of huge, basic advances in their technology.

Where fission shines is in baseline power generation. (And, yes, the newer plants can ramp up and down enough for demand tracking.) Also in powering LARGE vehicles, such as big cargo ships. It's hard to beat for that, the plant sits in a small space, and just keeps ticking along for decades with 99% plus availability, and the downtime scheduled, not at the whim of weather. Not chopping up or frying birds, either.

Tony:

Now, I don't know whether $20K would reduce my fuel consumption by 20%, or more, or less

Ok. I'm going to go out on a limb and say it might if heating/cooling is a large part of your energy bill, and that may very well be a very good decision for you to make. Not everyone is a homeowner, not everybody has 20k to spend, and in situations where the winters aren't quite as bad it might not make sense.

Is 20% reduction in fuel use -- without giving up Our Way of Life -- physically possible? I don't know, but I suspect it is.

I agree. The question is how. As I've said above , we should diversify our feedstock. I think I said it in the other thread, but if not, research into new technologies is also great. But if you think that coal is a dangerous energy source (and it is, from when its mined until after its burned), fission is, IMHO, a good option to replace coal in base power production.

Whether it's also a political problem because some people get positive joy out of merely burning fuel is not for me to say.

I have never met someone who *enjoyed* poor fuel economy.

"efficiency" is not the same as "conservation", in my vocabulary.

I hope hope they aren't identical in anybody's vocabulary. But if you want broad reductions in carbon emissions *now* you can either replace our feedstock (fission) or conserve. Efficiency gains, while continuing, are not sitting there for the taking. They require research, which requires time.

Increasing fuel efficiency is an engineering problem

Yes, with an emphasis on the word *problem*. This is a nontrivial solution to CO2 release.

I have a phd in engineering. I know people working on fuel cells, wind turbine design, solar thermal, nanomaterials for PVs and batteries. These are all areas of active research. All of them are making strides.

But the technology isn't simply waiting in the wings if only we could get past those crazy people that burn coal for the sheer thrill of it.

"Engineering" isn't a magic solution to problems. A lot of the low hanging fruit has already been taken and squeezing efficiency out of things that have already been optimized is really hard. Research continues, which is good, and progress is being made, but research tends to have an unpredictable timeline.

Relevant to the current discussion:

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/02/23/219105/states-brace-for-clash-between.html#storylink=rss

Has some numbers on solar use in the US and a discussion on the growing conflict between installers and utilities. It doesn't get into problems of tying distributed generation to the grid on a large scale.

This isn't to say that solar isn't a good power source (it is) and shouldn't be encouraged (it should), but these changes have problems associated with them and take time to implement.

If you have a practical way of reducing our energy consumption by, say, 20% (or more) without crippling our economy, I would be very interested in hearing it.

raise CAFE standards.

raising the average fuel efficiency of cars on the road by 20% could be done pretty easily. all those F-150s and Chevy Tahoes that get 15/23 MPG ? how many people never use them for anything but commuting and hauling kids around? i know there are a few in the parking lot at work that have never carried anything my little 2L 4-door sedan couldn't carry.

really push geothermal heat pumps for new residential construction. i'm bummed we didn't fight harder to get one in the house we just built. especially since i just paid $800 for a tank of propane, the idea that we could be offsetting that simply by moving some water around in our front yard seems mighty attractive. i know they are incentivised, but builders apparently aren't familiar with them and don't like to talk about things they haven't done a hundred times already.

halp, halp. the moderation monster is after me.

I have never met someone who *enjoyed* poor fuel economy.

You need to get out more.

You need to get out more.

...ok...does that mean you have and can describe their motivations? Or are you just encouraging me to go outside and get some sun?

To me, right now, the concept of "man, I really enjoy spending money heating my house so I'm leaving all the windows open" is foreign, to say the least.

Or maybe I'm missing the implication of a phrase like: "some people get positive joy out of merely burning fuel"

Perhaps it's more a matter of some people being so focused on other things (the feel of a huge car engine; the convenience of leaving the door open for a few minutes or more during the dead of winter or the heat of summer) that the inefficiency cost is insignificant to them.

It isn't that they like inefficiency particularly. Just that efficiency is such a low priority for them compared to other things that it simply doesn't matter.

Just that efficiency is such a low priority for them compared to other things that it simply doesn't matter.

Which is different than the phrase upthread and far more reasonable.

in my experience, it's not "man, I really enjoy spending money heating my house so I'm leaving all the windows open" so much as "screw those liberal-enviro scolds. ah do what ah want!"

does that mean you have and can describe their motivations?

oh yes, indeed.

cleek's law, baby.

"I have never met someone who *enjoyed* poor fuel economy."

Well, I've got a fireplace, and wouldn't replace it with a wood stove, and I certainly enjoy it. I'm certainly not under the illusion that it is an efficient source of heat, however efficient it is at generating romance.

so much as "screw those liberal-enviro scolds. ah do what ah want!"

And people have said this to you? Or just on Fox news and the internets (both reliable sources of reality, no doubt)?

In my experience (and yeah, anecdote, so if you have something firmer go ahead and share), people are generally concerned about their energy bill and how often they fill up their car.

Because, you know, most people don't have the money to burn just to spite 'teh libruls'. They're more concerned about making rent and eating and those other troublesome parts of life.

And some of them might drive old cars and trucks or have an inefficient furnace. Most, probably. But upfront costs for savings realized over several years are often a substantial impediment for people. Accelerating the turnover of old technology isn't simple nor is it cheap.

The solutions to Joe, who drives around in a Hummer because 'screw the bald eagles!' and the solutions to people locked into low efficiency options are not the same.

I'd speculate the second one is a larger part of the overall energy consumption.

I have never met someone who *enjoyed* poor fuel economy.

Well, there was this.

If you compare US per capita energy usage (and indeed car gas mileage) with anywhere else on earth outside of the Middle East, then yes, you do enjoy poor fuel economy. So there is some headroom.

Electricity is more or less at parity with gasoline:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gasoline_gallon_equivalent

Solar is more or less at grid parity with fossil fuels:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grid_parity

You can quibble about the details, and cheap natural will skew the calculations for a few years, but basically we're just about there already. And solar can only get cheaper.

The smartest engineer/businessperson in the US is determined to replace gas powered autos with electric ones. He's also involved in mass market solar, and is about to build the largest battery plant on the planet.

Add in a couple of technical breakthroughs along these lines -
http://www.wired.com/autopia/2014/02/batteries-flammable-polymer/
- and we won't need to argue with the global warming skeptics for more than a couple of decades.

Whether all this happens quite quickly enough to prevent some rather unpleasant climate effects is open to question.

There was a survey concerning fuel usage that addressed that, but I can't turn it up. I did turn up this.

http://www.apnorc.org/news-media/Pages/News+Media/republicans-democrats-at-odds-on-energy-issues.aspx

from the survey
Even on areas where there's majority agreement, a partisan gap remains. For instance, there is broad backing for programs to help consumers learn to make more energy-efficient choices, but the support is 81 percent among Democrats and 57 percent among Republicans.

We've just gone through a whole round of comments that seem to be centered around having a light bulb in a chicken coop as unacceptable government meddling. Thompson, you yourself said something to the effect that concentrating power in the government is unacceptable. When that kind of thinking meets because chicken coop, I'm not sure why you are surprised that some folks would feel that buying a Hummer is the way to go.

And given that there is this notion that any gubmint action is impinging on freedom, you have this catch-22: if it were really an emergency, the government should ignore the minority and do it, and since they try voluntary measures, it is obviously not an emergency, so go suck eggs (but not out of their chicken coop).

The poll, made possible by a grant to the AP-NORC Center from the Joyce Foundation, illuminates one driver of this campaign season's divisive political rhetoric: Both parties are playing to their bases. So it's no surprise that presidential candidate Mitt Romney and other Republicans push for more drilling for oil and natural gas, and President Barack Obama emphasizes renewable energy development as part of what he calls an "all-of-the-above" energy strategy.

Given that the campaign has never ended and we have never settled down to the business of governing since Obama's election, it should be unsurprising that this state of affairs continues. One would think polls like this or this should point the way to a bipartisan consensus, there are obvious reasons why that won't happen, at least until the Republican party goes the way of the Whigs.

Tony P.: Whether it's also a political problem because some people get positive joy out of merely burning fuel is not for me to say.

Thompson: I have never met someone who *enjoyed* poor fuel economy.

Well, maybe not their own.

But there are large and wealthy companies that do get positive joy out of other people's poor fuel economy. Large vehicles are more profitable for the automakers by far than small ones. And then there are those outfits whose revenues come from selling fuel, including lots of gasoline.

These companies, and the people who run them, certainly enjoy political influence - a lot of it. So there well may be a political problem there, not because a lot of folks enjoy burning fuel but because influential forces want people to burn fuel.

Nigel:

A couple of points.

The EIA disagrees with you on LC for generation.

http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/er/electricity_generation.cfm

But I would agree, as I've said above, solar is a good technology and we should implement it.

So let's do that. But that's not trivial. Solar currently represents less than a quarter percent of generation in the US. So we're talking about scaling up production and installation of PVs by 100x to get to about 20% generation in the US.

That's a lot of installations, a lot of production, and a lot of materials.

On top of that, a lot of those installations are going to be distributed, which can impact power quality on the grid. Again, a solvable problem, but non-trivial.

http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?arnumber=1489228

This is on top of energy storage/base load problems.

Again, not saying solar is bad. It's good, and we should be increasing our use of it. However, there are very real problems that we need to tackle as part of that increase, which will take time.

Regarding batteries: I mentioned the importance of research upthread. I also mentioned that there are very real problems in battery research. You linked to a Wired article about a *potentially promising* technology that is "years away" from commercialization.

It would be great if we had a storage solution (and potentially that battery chemistry, or super caps, or one of the many other promising technologies) but we don't yet, nor do we have anything on the horizon.

That might change, but that change is going to be unpredictable.

Again, I'm not trying to be a killjoy on solar. But getting a large PV market share in the US is going to take time. That could change rapidly with the development of a disruptive technology, but those are hard to predict.

byomtov:

These companies, and the people who run them, certainly enjoy political influence - a lot of it.

Agree 100%. My posts on previous threads should indicate that I view corporate influence in government as a huge problem.

LJ:

Thompson, you yourself said something to the effect that concentrating power in the government is unacceptable. When that kind of thinking meets because chicken coop, I'm not sure why you are surprised that some folks would feel that buying a Hummer is the way to go.

I'm honestly a little lost where you're going. Not disagreeing with you, just really not seeing the connectivity between the thoughts. Likely my poor comprehension, not your poor writing.

But just casting around:
I don't view the "screw you, I'm buying a hummer!" type as a large problem in our energy markets. I think its mostly an exaggerated caricature of people, but to the extent that its true, people that can execute on that feeling are few and far between.

Because Hummers are expensive, and gas is expensive. So, I don't worry about the "screw you environment" types because to the extent they exist, they are likely a very small portion of our energy consumption.

But its a trope I've seen before and honestly I think it detracts from the already fractured and contentious debate.

Renewable energy generation is slowed by substantial technical problems. I would agree that it is also hindered by politicking and lobbying, but IMHO the technical problems are the dominant ones.

Of course, I think MOST things are hindered by politicking and lobbying. But hindered by people that buy hummers to screw "teh libruls"? Eh, I don't buy it.

If you sell a 15K car that has 100 mpg, but has enough power that you can merge onto a freeway safely, people will buy it in droves.

If you give people a battery powered car for 15K that gets 200 mi on a charge and the charge only takes a few minutes, they will buy it. In droves. Tesla is working towards this, but they aren't there yet, or close.

etc etc: People are motivated by money and lack thereof. Give them a way to save money by increasing efficiency, and they will. In general.

And people have said this to you?

how many links would you like me to provide? people say stuff like this all the time.

i'm not saying they sit around and think of ways to waste fuel all day long, but there's a mindset out there that all this eco-crap is nonsense and god gave us the earth and i'm just one person and i need this truck cause i have a dog and yaintgonnatellme what i cant do. etc..

So, I don't worry about the "screw you environment" types because to the extent they exist, they are likely a very small portion of our energy consumption.

yeah. the point was never "there are millions" it was that it's a mindset. and it is. and if it hurts in the margins, it's a problem. a small one, maybe. ok.

cleek:

Seems we're in agreement. I've seen the mindset expressed hyperbolically, but I have yet to seem someone buy an expensive SUV because of that mindset.

In fact, again in my anecdotal experience, the people I know that are most likely to engage in that hyperbole tend to be scrooges with the thermostat.

Principle takes a back seat to economics. Which is in general unfortunate, but in this case is probably good.

Hi thompson, no worries, I'm sure I'm as much or more at fault for not getting what I want to say across.

To try and restate it, there is a general attitude, much more in the states than in any other OECD country, that government is a problem. It certainly seems to be part of our Anglo-Saxon heritage, as the UK is probably the closest to the kind of anti-government rhetoric that is such a theme in US discussions. Obviously, I don't read the volume of French or German or Japanese that I do of English, so there may be a bias, and I admit that Japan may be an outlier, but I try to follow what is going on in Europe and there doesn't seem to be that anti-government bent that you can easily find in the US.

I also believe it is spurred on by astro-turfing, but I don't think that the companies are creating something from nothing. Folks may not have enough money to buy a Hummer or spend extravagantly on fuel bills, but they can be vociferous enough in their complaining that they make it difficult to take even small steps towards some sort of energy self-sufficiency. I was looking to post something about Obama's setting of the mpg requirements by 2020 and the resistance to that, but it got too depressing. I do think that is a good example of how the 'whatever he's for, we are against' really drags down this process. And, as I noted, then the claim is that it isn't really an emergency, because if it were, everyone would agree.

So I'd say that it is not the people buying Hummers who are the problem, it is the people cheering on the people who are buying Hummers, which expands that demographic a bit. If you don't see a link between them, I guess we will just have to agree to disagree.

At any rate, I do appreciate you commenting to bring out the "other side" and apologies if any of what I have written came off as dumping on you personally.

Because, you know, most people don't have the money to burn just to spite 'teh libruls'.

Whatever.

I know a guy who drives a Hummer H1 purely for the political incorrectness value.

8.0 - 8.5 mpg, depending on drivetrain.

A somewhat over-the-top example, but a far from unusual mindset, as cleek notes.

I know a guy who drives a Hummer H1 purely for the political incorrectness value.

I don't know any actual Hummer drivers, but I know plenty of people who have the attitude. I don't know how to explain, either, the SUV craze that lasted two decades, when people were supposedly "afraid" to drive anything smaller than a tank. They supposedly did that "for their safety."

Seems we're in agreement. I've seen the mindset expressed hyperbolically, but I have yet to seem someone buy an expensive SUV because of that mindset.

As with the others above, I've met people who view fuel inefficiency as a feature, not a bug. The ones I've known use it as a masculinity marker and explicitly mock the limp-wristed sissies who drive smaller fuel-efficient vehicles. They also were generally possessed of zero financial planning skills and lived paycheck to paycheck, so there did seem to be a psychological detachment between their desires and the consequences thereof, as well as a lack of "enlightened self-interest" despite generally libertarian attitudes...

Actually, I've noticed that a lot of (loudly) self-proclaimed libertarians are a little weak on enlightened self-interest. Specifically, it seems to be an article of faith among some that it can never be in someone's self-interest to voluntarily agree with others to make decisions on a group basis.

Anyone who actually knows something about the libertarian philosophy, of course, knows that cooperation is entirely in keeping with it. But we seem to have a significant part of the population who thinks that "libertarian" means "nobody can tell me what to do about anything, ever, under any circumstances." Fortunately, the libertarians here seem to be rather clearer on the concept. But they are far from being typical.

That was the easiest link to this classic that I could find on the quick ;-)

http://metamorphosis.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=104x2385701

"Specifically, it seems to be an article of faith among some that it can never be in someone's self-interest to voluntarily agree with others to make decisions on a group basis."

Say, seldom, and I'd agree.

There are, obviously, some sorts of decisions, (Which side of the road shall we drive on?) which must be done collectively, because everybody has to end up doing the same thing in the end. Most decisions are not of this nature.

In the marginal cases, you have a choice: You can go straight for the collective decision, accepting that a lot of people will be compelled to accept a decision they disagree with. OR. You can try to arrange things so that the individual choice is preserved. As somebody who values individual liberty, I prefer the latter solution, even at some cost. Because individual liberty is worth paying a cost for. I think, for instance, having redundant cables strung about is preferable to getting by with one set, and accepting a local cable company monopoly.

Then there are the cases where there is no real need at all to collectivize a decision. It's perfectly feasible to let each person or small group, (My five year old has no say in what is served for dinner.) get their own way. We walk into a restaurant, there's no reason why the patrons should vote on what gets ordered.

It is possible to respond to such cases by groping around for "externalities", or even engineering their creation, to claim or transform situations entirely suited to individual choice, into marginal cases, and then resolve the matter in favor of collective choice.

You can, for instance, have the government start paying for health care under some circumstances. Order emergency rooms to serve people who can't pay. Or mandate that insurance companies not take into account actuarially relevant information when pricing their product. And, presto, chango! Individual choice now has externalities that it didn't have, and you have an excuse to inquire into, and eventually dictate, any choices that effect health. Suddenly, it's the government's business what I eat, or the extent to which I exercise.

I see way too much of this artificial creation of "externalities" going on, at the hands of people who really like collective decision making, and presumably would like excuses to do more of it.

I don't accept that such synthetic externalities count towards making a decision suited to collectivizing. I can't walk up to somebody in a restaurant, offer to pay their tab, and thereby give myself the right to dictate what they eat. Because *I* created the externality, not them.

Stop creating externalities, and then demanding on the basis of them the right to make other people's decisions.

As for my choice of light bulbs? I pick my bulb, I pay my electric bill, all externalities neatly dealt with. So, again I say, you don't like CO2? Take it up with the utility company, and hands off my light bulbs.

Do it for the chickens. 'Cause they really do need some heat during the winter, along with their light, and why do you insist on my spending $100 for a separate radiant heater and light source, when I can combine them for 69 cents?

And, by the way, I switch the chickens over to a CFL when the weather warms up, because I do conserve electricity, and have been using them where appropriate long before this stupid incandescent bulb ban was put in place. But it does piss me off that advocates of newer bulbs can't accept that there are a lot of uses for which incandescent bulbs are better suited, and let individuals make that call themselves.

Frankly, it's hilarious: You're being used by the bulb manufacturers to get rid of the cheap bulbs they didn't make much profit on, and force people to buy expensive ones, and you don't even notice you've let yourselves be transformed into corporate shills.

Brett, I know of TWO applications where incandescents are really better suited, and they are very tiny niche applications (gain stabilization in a sine wave oscillator [ye olde HP sine wave generator], and lighting where even tiny levels of electrical noise is unacceptable).
If you have others, please mention them.


You seem to be using them as a combination of "light+resistive heater". Better to use LEDs for the lights and a simple resistive heater and YOU NEVER HAVE TO REPLACE THEM. Just switch the heater on or off, depending on the weather.

I don't like CFLs either, but LED lighting has really made great strides, and will continue to do so. Yes, they cost more, but when they last 20+ years, so what?

In America, we're all corporate shills. Only the corporations differ. It's just like a P.K.Dick novel.

Most variations of the basic incandescent bulb are still available. But at a huge premium of course.

Most decisions are not of this nature.

As far as I'm concerned, you can do whatever the heck you like, as long as nobody else is affected by your decision.

As soon as other people are affected by your decision, you're no longer free to do as you wish. Because in doing whatever you wish, you are limiting other folks' ability to do the same.

The more people there are on the planet, the fewer the number of cases where what you do has no effect on anyone else.

there are a lot of uses for which incandescent bulbs are better suited, and let individuals make that call themselves.

Rough service 60W incandescent. It'll cost you a buck.

Problem solved.

A problem I've encountered is that some light fixtures and lamps designed for incandescent bulbs will cause CFLs to overheat and croak in short order.

Amazon has all kinds of incandescents for sale. you can buy a 48-pack of GE 100W bulbs for less than $40.

freedom!

"If you have others, please mention them."

Ok, first off, your "better" solution for my chicken coop doesn't seem to involve any consideration of cost. I wonder why that is? I DID install a resistance heater. It's called a "light bulb".

Second, applications for which incandescents are better:

1. Any application where the bulb is not used much. If a bulb is only going to be on a couple hours a year, initial cost utterly dominates over energy cost. Closet lights. Attic lights. Basement lights. There are a lot of places where you'll put lighting, and hardly use it at all.

2. Any application where the bulb is exposed to temperature extremes.

3. Any application where you WANT the heat. Try installing an LED light in a lava lamp. Try using one in a DIY proofing box.

4. Any application where you want a bulb which ACTUALLY lasts a long time, instead of merely being purported to last a long time. Incandescent bulbs are an old technology, all the bugs worked out, they are genuinely reliable. CFLs and LEDs are purported to last a long while, and doubtless one day this will be true, but it is NOT true today, except under ideal conditions.

first they came for the chicken coops.

then it was the lava lamps.

what next, my e-z bake oven?

LJ:

Crap, left a post at the captcha overnight. Sorry about that.

there is a general attitude...that government is a problem

I'd agree that that sentiment exists. And I sympathize with it to the point that govt can be and often is a problem. Not to the point where the mere existence of govt is an affront to my liberty, or whatever. It's not.

I also believe it is spurred on by astro-turfing, but I don't think that the companies are creating something from nothing.

Again, I'd agree.

whatever he's for, we are against' really drags down this process

Agree. And this is someone who thinks Obama is a pretty crappy president and who personally disagrees with many of his policy proposals. Above and beyond what is a coherent disagreement, there is a strong current of fighting him to fight. Which is a problem, as you note.

it is the people cheering on the people who are buying Hummers, which expands that demographic a bit

I'd expand it further. When you talk energy/conservation/etc there is massive FUD on all sides. The few thousands of hummers in the US are not the problem. Maybe a small fraction of the problem. But that's what the punditry focuses on: small fractions of the problem because that's what gets ratings and votes, sadly.

The debate is polarized, heavily so, which is not conducive to productive solutions. And characterizing entire swathes of opposition to policy X with "some people get positive joy out of merely burning fuel" or similar phrases are not useful to depolarizing the debate. Because its a cheap method for discrediting opposition.

If you don't see a link between them, I guess we will just have to agree to disagree.

I'd concede a link likely exists between hyperbole and russell's acquaintance with a H1, and I was too absolute in my previous statements. Fair?

Perhaps, to be more measured, I should say that energy consumption just because 'the environmentalists told me no' is unlikely to be a significant contributor to our overall energy consumption. This just strikes me as merely a small part of the energy problem, and therefore deserves very little attention.

At any rate, I do appreciate you commenting to bring out the "other side" and apologies if any of what I have written came off as dumping on you personally.

I certainly didn't feel dumped on, no apologies necessary. I appreciate the forum you and your fellow moderators have cultivated. It's...rare...on the internet or anywhere else.

I just couldn't really follow the train of thought at the time (which I tried to explain without coming off like a jerk). But I see it now.

The few thousands of hummers in the US are not the problem.

What were the two largest selling vehicles in the US last year?

On those really cold nights (and early mornings) I get comfort from my 150 watt reading/heat lamp. Fortunately I'm capable of planning ahead and bought a lifetime supply of bulbs when they were on sale, so no worries here.

what next, my e-z bake oven?

they've already come for it. new models don't use light bulbs.

http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/09/16/hasbros-new-easy-bake-oven-ditches-the-light-bulb/

bleh. would changing my name help my comments avoid the moderation trap ?

What were the two largest selling vehicles in the US last year?

that F-150 has been the best selling vehicle for 32 years straight now.

15mpg on avg.

raising that 20% would bring it up to 18mpg ! 18 !

but that would impinge on freedom.

A lot of consumers switched over to pickups, SUVs and other truck running gear based vehicles because the station wagon was regulated out of existence.

Charles, Could you share what particular regulations you think did in the station wagon? (Since I'm not a car guy I simply have no idea.) Thanks.

"what next, my e-z bake oven?"

Precisely. You figure it's a joke, because you don't value other people being able to make their own decisions. You figure you're entitled to inconvenience them. You've got what you think is a good reason, how dare they disagree?

I've long thought this is one of the fundamental divides in human thought: Some people just don't cross that developmental stage where they realize that other people ARE other people, entitled to make their own decisions. They're still stuck in that infantile mindset where all the toys are their's, where everybody is supposed to hop to their tune.

Yes, people ARE entitled to have lightbulbs for EZ back ovens, even if you don't like it.

You figure it's a joke, because you don't value other people being able to make their own decisions.

No.

I figure it's a joke that, in threads addressing whether and how to address the potentially catastrophic effects of global warming, you raise your chicken coop and lava lamp as examples of why it's best to just let people do whatever they want to do, and f**k the consequences.

Unfortunately, my figuring is wrong, it's not a joke at all. You are quite sincere in your concern for your chicken coop and your lava lamp.

What I mostly figure is that we're screwed, because the dialog about stuff like this in this country inevitably devolves to a discussion of how crap like what kind of bulb will work with a lava lamp is really a matter of personal liberty.

I think your conception of liberty is extraordinarily small beer.

Station wagons were subject to the same CAFE standards as other passenger cars. But vehicles classified as light trucks were subject to less stringent standards for fuel economy and CO2 emissions. In order to raise their fleet fuel economy averages, auto manufacturers stop making station wagons or priced them so high consumers stopped buying them.

You figure it's a joke, because you don't value other people being able to make their own decisions.

I doubt you have any idea what I value.

In a discussion of how to address the possible consequences of climate change, you raise the spectre of no bulbs for your lava lamp as an imposition on your personal liberty.

Yes, I find that to be a joke.

Regarding taking pleasure in inefficiency, I would just point out this:

http://iowahawk.typepad.com/iowahawk/2012/04/the-2012-iowahawk-earth-week-cruise-in.html

Sure, he's just twitting the Greens some. It's all in good fun. But the inefficiency-for-pleasure doesn't have to be pleasure ONLY in inefficiency.

Iowahawk is a FB friend of mine (and several hundred other people, to be sure). His humor isn't for everyone, but I think he's a hoot.

Regarding fusion power, I have noted previously that not all fusion reactions are equivalently "clean". Reaction products are typically gamma radiation plus neutrons, protons and sometimes even radioactive reaction products. All of this means that there will in fact be a waste-disposal issue.

As far as I have been able to tell, the more clean a fusion reaction is, the harder it is to make happen in the first place. I think case in point is the proton-boron fusion that produces no energetic neutrons or protons, but is much more difficult to ignite.

hey man, what's that R75/6 doing in there?

those things will get mid-30's MPG when they're in good tune.

They're still stuck in that infantile mindset where all the toys are their's, where everybody is supposed to hop to their tune.

As far as I can tell, no one here is suggesting that s/he should be able to personally dictate to everyone else in the country what they should be allowed to do. The underlying and overarching context here is one of representative democracy, with respect for certain fundamental if limited rights, none of which involves the use of a particular light-bulb technology.

It's certainly possible that outlawing or making it very difficult to obtain a particular type of light bulb is a bad idea, in light of a fully comprehensive understanding of the totality of the situation, but advocating for such, even in the absence of complete and perfect knowledge, doesn't make one a wanna-be overlord of all mankind (or even all of the US).


The few thousands of hummers in the US are not the problem.

What were the two largest selling vehicles in the US last year?

Not hummers. The top selling vehicle has been the F150, which has double the mpg and is overall more functional and useful than hummers.

As someone who owns a F250 (wife needs to haul for work) and regularly gets roped in to helping people move furniture, go to the dump, go to the lumber yard, etc etc, I'd say trucks are at least nominally required in today's society.

Trust me, I don't drive it more often than I have to. Filling the tanks on it is brutal.

The top selling vehicle has been the F150, which has double the mpg

So, 15 mpg, as cleek notes.

I'd say trucks are at least nominally required in today's society.

Whatever, thompson.

Look, drive whatever you want. My point is that there's nothing whatsoever unusual about people driving vehicles that get crap mileage. And, for quite a number of them, that's a feature, not a bug.

My opinion about all of this stuff is that Americans view a fairly wasteful lifestyle as their birthright. We're not likely to change our habits in any kind of significant way.

We didn't do anything about clean air until our cities became borderline unliveable. We didn't do anything about clean water until the rivers caught fire.

If climate change is what folks say it is, we won't do anything about it until it bites us on the @ss, good and hard.

Where that will leave us, I can't say.

But, lava lamps and pickup trucks, y'all.

HSH:

It's certainly possible that outlawing or making it very difficult to obtain a particular type of light bulb is a bad idea, in light of a fully comprehensive understanding of the totality of the situation, but advocating for such, even in the absence of complete and perfect knowledge, doesn't make one a wanna-be overlord of all mankind (or even all of the US).

I'd agree with this, and this is why I haven't delved into the lightbulb thing. It's a minor infringement of liberty, as far as it goes, and I also don't think its going to have a substantial impact on energy use longterm.

Wouldn't have passed it myself, could be wrong, don't really care.

Regarding chicken coops, it's a pretty trivial problem of incorporating a resistive heater in line with a light. Or selling an incandescent bulb as a space heater that also happens to give off light:

https://www.heatball.de/index.php

If climate change is what folks say it is, we won't do anything about it until it bites us on the @ss, good and hard.

The question might be, in what fashion will we get bitten first? My suspicion is that it will be indirectly -- rising food prices, as the current agricultural areas need to change. So that probably won't be correlated enough in people's minds to get us to change.

Another possibility would be rising sea leavels. Not that even Florida (by far the lowest-lying state) will be that badly damaged by a few meters rise. But again, we might see an indirect impact, as some of the island countries where big money gets cached/laundered disappear beneath the waves. So probably not enough to get us to change there either.

In fact, I'm not sure what it will turn out to be. Anybody got any inspirations?

Anybody got any inspirations?

If all else fails, being dead.

Whatever, thompson.

Look, drive whatever you want. My point is that there's nothing whatsoever unusual about people driving vehicles that get crap mileage.

Ok...and my point is that people utilizing low mpg vehicles out of spite is not a major contributor to the overall energy consumption in the US.

If you want to bitch and moan about how some weekend warrior has a F150 they don't need: great, enjoy yourself. That's not the same thing as a policy suggestion that will slow carbon emissions.

I don't view it as productive because, similar to incandescent bulbs, it serves to add more heat than light.

Wouldn't have passed it myself, could be wrong, don't really care.

That, I can respect.

according to this, the top 5 of the 10 most-vulnerable cities in the world are in the US:

http://ens-newswire.com/2013/09/03/10-coastal-cities-at-greatest-flood-risk-as-sea-levels-rise/

In terms of the overall cost of damages, they are: Miami, which is at greatest risk, followed by New York, New Orleans, Tampa and Boston.

The other five are: Guangzhou, China; Mumbai, India; Nagoya, Japan; Shenzen, China; Osaka, Japan.


but, since the "conservative" reply is something like "but we're not to blame for rising sea level. it's the sun!" we will do nothing, even if NYC is permanently flooded

wj:

probably won't be correlated enough in people's minds

Part of the problem is climate change is big, spread out of many decades, and uncertain. None of those things are conducive to people caring.

There's plenty of reason to reduce our dependance on oil and coal and increase our use of renewable energy. Particulate pollution, growing and unstable foreign energy markets (Like my bumper sticker says: "Renewable energy is homeland security"), etc etc.

Research and development into renewables, in addition to likely resulting in cheaper energy longterm, stimulate the economy.

Focus the debate on those factors, you'll get a lot of traction.

That, I can respect.

Thanks.

Focus the debate on those factors, you'll get a lot of traction.

Obama says the word "renewable" almost as often as he says "infrastructure". he's been trying to focus the debate on that stuff for years. and so has has every President before him, going back at least to Nixon.

the US isn't interested. and, in many cases, there's outright hostility to the idea that we should do anything that inconveniences anybody, even one iota.

If you want to bitch and moan about how some weekend warrior has a F150 they don't need: great, enjoy yourself.

As mentioned upthread, I don't really care what you drive. Live your life.

That said, the aggregate result of millions and millions of people driving vehicles that get crap mileage is that we will burn more gas.

So, as it turns out, it actually is relevant to the question of reducing carbon emissions.

Everybody's got their reason for why they, personally, shouldn't have to change anything about how they live.

Lava lamps, trips to the dump, what have you.

And, like you say, climate change is a fairly diffuse phenomena, so folks just don't care that much.

Obama says the word "renewable" almost as often as he says "infrastructure".

Agree. And my response to LJ is in the same vein. I don't like Obama, but there is A LOT of political obstruction for the sake of obstruction. It makes it hard to get even sensible reforms that everybody agrees on passed.

In fact, I'm not sure what it will turn out to be. Anybody got any inspirations?

Some guesses.....

1. Ocean acidification pretty much ends commercial ocean fishing, and no more shellfish for you!
2. Rising sea levels force 100's of millions to move. They will go somewhere, whether you particularly like it or not. All those people in Bangladesh are not just going to sit around and drown.
3. Summers in northern Canada, where nobody lives will be nicer. Summers in Brazil, not so much. But hey, they're just expendable brown people...and poor to boot.
4. Siberia permafrost meltdown releasing all that methane gas....well, that would pretty much end the game.

But by all means, we must first resolve whether or not the phasing out of the incandescent light bulb is an infringement on liberty (however defined).

Small beer indeed.

Harold Ramis is dead.

Here's my guess:

1. Increased agricultural productivity, thanks to warmer weather and CO2 fertilization effects.

2. Reduced energy consumpion. (Far more energy is consumed for winter heating than summer airconditioning.)

3. Fewer people dying from cold. (Many more people die of cold than heat each year.)

One of the key questions that seldom gets adressed in these arguments: What is the optimal "global temperature"? It's impossible to say whether warming is undesirable, or desirable, without knowing this, but how much energy ever gets put into establishing this indispensible prior?

even if NYC is permanently flooded

Bug, or feature?

Sea level rise has been occurring at a fairly constant 3mm/year as long as there has been equipment available for measuring it. Subsidence poses a much greater threat.

We're talking an inch and a fraction per decade. It's not cost-free, certainly. Someday we may have to abandon some 80-year-old buildings. In the present tense, if you're really concerned about such things, you don't let people build below some minimum elevation above sea level.

IMO, natch.

I don't know what's going to happen, either way, but I'd like a list of what we are expected to do to materially change the present course. I ask because, with suburbs and whatnot, how we're going to end reliance on cars, heating and cooling plus have viable industry and agriculture without fossil fuels really eludes me. Also, if the US were to go all in on reducing carbon emissions, but if the rest of the world doesn't, can we alone stem the tide? How are we going to compel universal compliance, assuming we take the first steps?

All up, making a real, world wide dent in CO2 emissions seems like an insurmountably tall order.

Sea level rise has been occurring at a fairly constant 3mm/year as long as there has been equipment available for measuring it.

England was once connected to continental Europe and Alaska to Asia. We had glaciers well into the central US 10K years ago. I know it's different now, but the fact is, these things happen without widespread industry.

Subsidence is a big issue along the TX coast.

Sea rise is different from pollution--I get that part, but sea rise seems to be a big part of the pitch.

Also, not to pick any scabs, a lot of people who today assure me about the effects of climate change also confidently informed me that ACA would be cost neutral and that I could keep my doc and my insurance if I liked it. There is a bit of a trust factor here.

McK:

Also, if the US were to go all in on reducing carbon emissions, but if the rest of the world doesn't, can we alone stem the tide?

It depends how we go about reducing emissions. We invest heavily in energy infrastructure that is ultimately cheaper, as I think renewables and various efficiency gains will be in long term: the rest of the world will follow along.

Because, you know, money.

My understanding, perhaps incorrect, about sea level rise is that the big risks are the ice sheets over Greenland and the Antartic.

If the Greenland sheet melted totally, it would be good for about a 24 foot rise in ocean levels, and it would take about 2,000 years to happen.

So, that may not be the most urgent thing.

Were I to guess, my guess would be that changing weather patterns would be the salient problem, near term. Where "near term" is measured in a couple of decades.

For the US, drought in the plains and west, and loss of fresh water for large southwestern cities would be my most specific guess.

But I don't really know.

I'd like a list

Put Less Carbon In The Air.

Per the EPA, the big sources of carbon emissions are electric power generation, and transportation, in that order.

So, generate electric power in other ways, and find other ways to move people and stuff around.

If we jump on this, you are correct, there is no guarantee that anyone else will. And, most of the problems are not trivial to address. And, there is a VERY VERY LARGE financial incentive to pull every available ounce of gas, oil, and coal out of the ground and burn it up.

So, I don't see anything constructive happening on a large scale unless and until the effects of warming are overwhelmingly large and blatant. At which point, a rise in temperature above what we would consider acceptable levels will probably be irreversible.

I know it's different now, but the fact is, these things happen without widespread industry.

Yes, climate during the Holocene has varied from glacial to about as warm as current-day doomsday scenarios.

I see two differences.

1. CO2 levels, which we know we contribute to, and which we therefore could choose to moderate.

2. 10K years ago, 1 or 2 million people on earth. Now, 7 billion. Big difference.

a lot of people who today assure me about the effects of climate change also confidently informed me....

The first big splash about this stuff was Hansen's testimony to Congress in 1988.

So, over 25 years ago.

This is not just the liberal cause du jour.

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Whatnot


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