No More Berning of Fossil Fuels

I am currently sitting in my yard enjoying the post El Nino 75 degree weather, while typing away on my locally made (…well invented at least) MacBook which was charged from the highly subsidized solar panels on my roof. I am still reeling from the large number of Oscar worthy performances during the recent presidential debates. For the energy sector a lot is at stake with this next election.

Of the GOP front runners, only Marco Rubio has an energy or climate plan on his website. A few choice nuggets are doing away with “Obama’s carbon mandates” (whatever that means), approving Keystone XL immediately, rewriting the offshore drilling plan and creating a National Regulatory Budget to Limit the Power of Unelected Regulators. There is no plan to address climate change, because that’s not a problem in the Rubio world. I can hear my great grandchildren crying into their organic pillows across the space time continuum. I don’t even want to speculate about Trump’s energy plan. Well, maybe he will put gold plated windmills made in U.S.A. on his wall to Mexico.

On the other side of the aisle, the two front runners have spelled out their energy and climate plans pretty well on their respective sites. Hillary Clinton’s plans are an aggressive acceleration of the agenda set during the Obama administration, and it focuses (perhaps wisely) on executive actions that are feasible without new acts of Congress. The two main goals listed are:

  • The United States will have more than 500,000,000 solar panels installed by the end of 2020.
  • The United States will produce enough renewable energy to power every home in America by 2026.

Goal one is ambitious and smartly stated in units that the voter can visualize (what is a MW anyway?). This is equivalent to putting solar panels on 25 million homes or a seven-fold increase of current levels. I assume that a significant share of these panels will not be on residential roofs but in PV plants, but this is not spelled out.

Goal two is broader than goal one, since it pulls in the other sources of renewable energy (wind, hydro, etc.). Promising to power “every home” implies covering residential consumption, which accounts for about a third of energy consumption. This would require a doubling of renewable energy sources over a decade. I’m mildly skeptical (professional hazard), but intrigued. The “how we get there” section lists a 60 billion dollar “Clean Energy Challenge.” The plan involves cutting red tape to get panels onto roofs faster, transmission infrastructure investments, a Solar X-Prize and …..drum roll…. tax incentives. I don’t want to be Debbie Downer here, but achieving this goal in four years is going to take net metering on steroids across large swaths of the country and tax credits that are significantly higher than the 30% you get now. If you spent all 60 billion dollars on subsidies (which I don’t believe is the plan) this would amount to roughly $3000 per new solar household. While that sounds like a lot, it is not. For a $21k install, you already currently get $7k in federal tax credits.

While there is no explicit mention of market based mechanisms to fight climate change, Hillary’s plan pushes for a continuation of the Clean Power Plan as proposed, which has some market mechanisms built in. Further, a carbon tax or national cap and trade is beyond the power of the executive and lacking a tidal change in Congress, is simply politically not feasible. There is also talk of more energy efficiency, reforming leasing of public lands, ending subsidies for oil and gas and cutting methane emissions.

Bernie Sanders’ agenda is significantly more aggressive. The stated goals make this liberal heart sing. Accelerating a just transition away from fossil fuels, investment in clean energy, revolutionizing the electric and transportation infrastructure, and taking a leadership position in the international fight against climate change. How to get there? Bernie plans to charge a revenue neutral carbon tax, repeal fossil fuel subsidies and invest massively in energy efficiency and clean energy. A candidate arguing for a REVENUE NEUTRAL CARBON TAX? Sign me up! And then I read on.

“Create a Clean-Energy Workforce of 10 million good-paying jobs by creating a 100% clean energy system. Transitioning toward a completely nuclear-free clean energy system for electricity, heating, and transportation is not only possible and affordable it will create millions of good jobs, clean up our air and water, and decrease our dependence on foreign oil.”

This sounds good. Real good. Much like free Krispy Kreme donuts that don’t make you fat good. Then there is a link where for each state you can see what this 100% clean energy system for your state will look like. I clicked on California. The future mix looks like this:

transWWS

This is 35% from Wind, ~55% from Solar and the remainder from a mix of sources. No nuclear, no gas, no coal. All clean. This plan will generate 315,982 forty-year jobs in construction, and 142,153 permanent operating jobs. Also, the private costs of this system are projected to be 9.7 cents per kwh, which is one cent lower than projected costs of the fossil energy. This plan will avoid 127.9 billion dollars in health damages. And the final conclusion is that because of customer-side solar and improving energy efficiency, total demand will go down by 44%. This is not fat free donuts. In my humble opinion achieving this goal is about as likely as me starting to work out today and looking like Ryan Gosling next week.

Why? California’s population is projected to grow by 28% by 2050. So in order to decrease demand by 44% over today, you will have to do that and add 11 million carbon free individuals. California is famous for its aggressive energy efficiency policies. They have contributed to keeping our per capita consumption relatively constant. But a decrease in demand of this magnitude is beyond what even the most optimistic energy efficiency advocates would consider reasonable.

I don’t even want to get started on these job creation figures. Severin has written about this. I realize that you have to promise jobs to get elected in some places, but these wildly exaggerated claims are simply not honest. And neither are the claims about the costs of renewables.

We need to craft an ambitious path forward towards this brave new energy system that will address climate change and local pollution externalities. Germany is trying the path of nuclear free renewables and it is turning out to be an expensive and not necessarily “coal reducing” one. Let’s study this case closely and learn from it. I realize that in order to get elected one has to make promises one can’t keep. But this economist dislikes it when as an adult he is promised Santa, when we know that Santa does not exist.

About Maximilian Auffhammer

Maximilian Auffhammer is the George Pardee Professor of International Sustainable Development at the University of California Berkeley. His fields of expertise are environmental and energy economics, with a specific focus on the impacts and regulation of climate change and air pollution.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

60 Responses to No More Berning of Fossil Fuels

  1. Pingback: No More Berning of Fossil Fuels - Berkeley-Haas Insights

  2. Allen Mosher says:

    So does Sen. Sanders’ plan come with free electricity storage, too?

    • Azmat Malik says:

      The tesla folks already get free electricity at most public and many private parking lots. So what if the rest get home electricity free too.
      I realize you were likely being sarcastic- but we now have a heavily tilted ‘socialism’ favoring one segment of the economy/ society – time to get a level field of benefits for all

      • mcubedecon says:

        We have lots of “socialism” favoring one part of the economy or the other. And the reasons are perfectly rational–our markets always have significant imperfections that require addressing if we want to have a harmonious society. The “unfettered market” is a myth. All markets need a communal guiding hand of some kind–that’s why we have governments.

  3. Robert Borlick says:

    The subsidies for residential solar are MUCH higher than the 30 percent tax credit. Thanks to net metering in California they exceed 170 percent of the unsubsidized installed cost! Other states, like New Jersey, come close to the California subsidies due to direct payments from the state and artificially driving up Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) prices.

    We can get the same benefits of residential solar at less than half the unsubsidized price from large-scale solar (e.g., 10MW or larger) PV facilities. Why are we wasting taxpayer and electricity consumers’ money subsidizing residential solar?

    • grlcowan says:

      “Why are we wasting taxpayer and electricity consumers’ money subsidizing residential solar?” — fossil fuel vendors, and governments that levy special taxes on these fuels, plus specially high *rates* of royalty/severance tax, like it because it is highly visible, yet nonthreatening.

  4. renewstudent says:

    The scenarios you quote seem to the from Jacobson et at for 2050. I didn’t know that Sanders had subscribed to them, including their avoidance of biomass.

  5. rodadams2013 says:

    Sen. Sanders climate goals can be achieved, but he needs a completely different technology mix.

    Nuclear energy CAN be affordable, reliable, and emission free. Those capabilities have been well proven, but we need to be willing to learn lessons from countries like Sweden, South Korea, and China. There’s lots of headroom for improvement.

    In almost every way outside of its name, fission ticks Bernie’s boxes. Lots of good-paying jobs, less material consumption, empowered employees of all races, creeds, and genders, and ZERO CO2 and other air pollution emissions.

  6. James Roumasset says:

    Max’s discussion provides a nice counterpoint to today’s rant by Paul Krugman. Has anyone calculated the excess burden costs of solar subsidies for California? Lee Endress did a prima facie analysis for Hawaii and estimated that Hawaii’s tax credit for distributed solar shrinks the economy by roughly $1500 per household every year compared to a socially efficient policy that recognizes the DOMESTIC (Gayer-Viscusi) costs of harmful emissions. That means the wage bill declines. So much for job creation. An additional problem w/ the infant industry argument, is that once you remove the subsidy, the baby dies (Spain).

    From the perspective of the U.S., we should also account for leakage from the Clean Power Plan, possibly greater than 100%.

    An efficient policy would also internalize the external costs of solar (e.g. Christina Nunez, National Geographic) and wind (1.4 million birds and bats allegedly killed very year in the U.S.).

    • mcubedecon says:

      And what about internalizing the same environmental consequence costs for natural gas, petroleum and coal? By the way, an FCC study found that only a tiny fraction of bird deaths are caused by wind turbines. More than 85% caused by hitting building and domestic cats.

      As for the full cost accounting, a longer-term analysis accounts for the savings in distribution investment and integration with other products and services.

      • James Roumasset says:

        Yes; social costs of polluting power generation were included in the Endress analysis.

      • mcubedecon says:

        My question is whether the COMPLETE social costs of fossil fuels were included? You cite bird kills for wind, but rarely the fossil fuel social costs include impacts at the production sites. Most often they include only emission related impacts.

        • James Roumasset says:

          Richard,
          Fair enough. I suspect the claim is that disposal of toxic water etc. in the case of solar panels and bird/bat costs for wind are higher than the non-emission costs of fossil fuels, but I can’t say that this has been definitively determined. A higher priority is presumably determining the domestic damages of burning fossil-fuels after accounting for leakage.
          Jim

      • Azmat Malik says:

        FCC is keeping track of birds and windmills?

      • mcubedecon says:

        The FCC was studying bid deaths from cell towers and included all sources, including wind turbines.

  7. mcubedecon says:

    In 1985, would we have said that 90% of U.S. adults would own cell phones? http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/04/01/us-smartphone-use-in-2015/
    Too often as we stand at the brink of a technological revolution, we can’t envision what might happen. In the early 1980s, despite rapidly falling component prices, no one really could see that PCs would be cost much less than $1,000 and we would carry then around instead of notepads for college courses. There’s no reason to believe that we are not standing in a similar position with DERs. Again costs are falling rapidly and the technology, including complementary ones, are evolving quickly. Instead, the analysis I see being presented relies on a continuation of the status quo. Analyses that incorporate potential dynamics, and work backwards, asking what technology costs would be needed to achieve these stated targets, would be much more useful.

  8. Gene Preston says:

    Bernie’s energy ideas rely on the WWS plan which is not feasible because WWS lacks a transmission infrastructure. New 5000 MW power lines in the US covering vast distances will be a nightmare to route and get approval for them, and finance them, based on our actual recent experiences. There has never been a valid and detailed plan for transitioning off fossil fuels. Thanks for your article pointing out how all the presidential candidate’s energy plans are non solutions. …Transmission Adequacy Consulting

  9. Ikemeister says:

    Does anyone seriously believe that the Jacobson plan could ever be implemented? I doubt that Jacobson himself believes it. Hanson says it best >here<. Just have a look at the numbers in Chart 2. Over 1600 Cape Wind arrays (over 90 average per coastal state), 2400 Tehachapi-size wind farms (avg 50 per state), 27GW of wave power (nothing today), over 500 Ivanpah-sized concentrated solar plants, 2.3TW of solar PV (that’s 1200x current), and almost 500GW of solar thermal storage. >Some reality< needs sink in. And this so far only considers the energy collection that would be required!

    Beyond that is the many Terrawatts (TW) of electrical storage that would be needed to be able to dispatch the produced power when it’s needed. TW storage technology hasn’t yet been invented.and may never be. Pumped water storage is by far the most common form of electrical storage available today and expansion of that technology is limited by the available real estate that would be suitable. Battery storage is considered by some to be the obvious choice but turns out that Terrawatts of chemical energy requires large volumes of materials that are not available on this Earth. It’s a Catch-22 >dilemma< for sure.

    Ah but Jacobson says the wind always blows and the sun shines somewhere so we don’t really need that much storage. When weather patterns are analyzed, his assertions are >highly questionable<. Even if there was a case for some portion of that assertion were deliverable, it would only be possible with many more long-distance power transmission lines, some of which would stand idle when the wind dies in the area served by any particular transmission line. Well continent-wide transmission lines aren’t full value for the funding required if they are operated at partial capacity as would be the case when renewables fuel shows up intermittently in various locations. Even if somehow the costs of such additional infrastructure could be justified, there’s then the >complexities of power engineering< that Jacobson hasn’t considered.

    Sorry to be >bursting your bubble< Mark but unfortunately it’s not just a matter of plugging numbers into a spreadsheet model. Boots on the ground trumps paper. Sorry. I know, reality bites but there you have it. I can understand how politicians not familiar with the complexities of power production infrastructures might be misled but what’s Jacobson’s excuse? Could it be that he doesn’t know as much as he thinks he knows?

  10. Robert Borlick says:

    “Could it be that he doesn’t know as much as he thinks he knows?” LOL

  11. jeppen says:

    The job creation figures can only sound good to the economically illiterate. Not because the figures are necessarily false. Think about it: The energy industry would occupy 10 million more workers but the result is 44% less energy! This is a recipe for poverty. Our prosperity comes from doing the exact opposite of this: Being ever more efficient, producing more and freeing up workers to do additional stuff.

  12. Oil and gas jobs pay pretty well; how many of these will be lost? Also oil and gas are more efficient fuels, and there are trillions invested in these industries! We should not and do not have to move too fast. All the recent Balloon, Satellite and Surface measurements indicate that the GW is very moderate – about 0.1 degrees Celsius per decade, and sea-level rise is about 2 cm per decade. So any GW climate-crisis is 100 years away! The climate models are quite wrong and do not fit the data. Their predictions exaggerate GW by a factor of about 2.5, but these predictions are what the policymakers and media are given by the climate establishment. It is shameful what one reads in the newspapers on these issues! See recent data and comparisons here.

    https://science.house.gov/sites/republicans.science.house.gov/files/documents/HHRG-114-SY-WState-JChristy-20160202.pdf

    • mcubedecon says:

      You may be correct on your assessment for climate science and predictions, but can you guarantee that you’re absolutely correct? The problem is that we can’t diversify away the risk of you being incorrect in your assessment–the consequences of you being wrong are much larger than the potential benefits of you being correct. So it is prudent for us to act on the possibility of catastrophic outcomes.

  13. Thank you for responding. Please note that this moderate warming is driven by relatively large Carbon emissions increases – about 2.2% per year. Two factors are on our side. The EU and US have reduced emissions and continue to do so, and Asia is being forced to replace coal by building huge solar arrays, natural gas pipelines and LNG terminals for importing NG [60% less CO2 emissions than coal] nuclear plants, etc., as the population is protesting the pollution from Coal-burning. So China will probably meet its goal of reducing emissions by 2030 or soon after. Also tree-counts and global greening, possibly due to increased CO2 and increased rain, has increased to where about 60% of emissions are absorbed by CO2 sinks around the globe, and this fraction has been increasing.
    Are you assuming that the rate of warming will suddenly increase, or that a “crisis” will occur at lower temperatures? The Canadian prairies, northern territories and most of Russia have already reached the plus 2.0 C, and they appreciate the milder winters, billions saved in energy and the increased crops and crop yields. What catastrophic events are you seeing?

    • mcubedecon says:

      Among the catastropic outcomes we’re concerned about are the collapse of the Antarctica and Greenland ice shelves that will raise sea levels several meters, the collapse of the North Atlantic thermocline which will plunge Europe into much cooler conditions, the acidification of the ocean which will cause a collapse in the mollusk populations, and the increase in the range of tropical diseases and parasites. Second is the rapid movement of ecological habitats towards the poles at rates faster than biological habitats can migrate leaving large barren areas. As you the rest of your suppositions, those are speculations, not guarantees. Being sanguine doesn’t reduce global risk. I don’t know that the events I listed will happen, but you can give us no guarantee with any certainty that they won’t happen. I doubt that you’ve looked into whether the various activities you’ve listed have reduced GHG emissions to avoid the changes that we’re concerned about. It’s also not clear whether you understand that the various national goals are rather mild and fall well short of what various forecasts have called for to fully mitigate catastrophic risks–they are only first steps at turning the the giant ship of the global economy.

      We can spend a lot of time on the climate change debate here, but that’s not the point of this blog. You need to provide ironclad proof that concerns about catastrophic outcomes are completely unfounded. We can not rely on midline point estimates–it the potential distribution of outcomes that we need to plan for.

  14. This is fun, thank you! That is quite a laundry list of catastrophes. But you left out the triggering of the next ice age by the decline of atmospheric CO2 later this century, as has happened in past climate history!
    When emission declines approach 50% CO2 will begin to be taken out the atmosphere and ocean – producing cooling and reduced acidity. Mother Nature has been developing huge CO2 sinks to do this job – now absorbing about 60% of CO2 emissions!
    The sea-level rise was not initiated by human activity, and it will not stop when CO2 declines to “normal”. A large global warming of about 10 degrees Celsius ended the last glacial ice-age 10 -15,000 years ago. Since then the sea-level has risen ~ 350 feet, most of it 5-15,000 years ago. The rise has continued for the past centuries, but at a lower rate, probably because there has been less ice to melt.
    Over the last 115 years Human activity increased global warming about 0.90 C, and began to contribute to the ocean rise. The Arctic temperature rise is about 2.0 C, while the Antarctic warmed near the global average. I am not expert enough to estimate the contribution of Human warming to the rise, but one sees the slope of rise increasing slightly with time. The new satellite data look the best and will help in this.
    The IPCC 2014 report [http://ar5-syr.ipcc.ch/ ] asserts that “the threshold for the loss of the Greenland ice sheet over a millennium or more and an associated rise of 7 m is greater than 1 deg. C [low confidence] but less than 4 C of warming.” Similar comments apply to the Antarctica.
    The ocean around Greenland and the Antarctic is very cold – a few degrees C. I suppose that is why it takes 1000 years to melt them? [Satellite data show that the ocean is warming at a lower rate than the land, but Antarctic land and surrounding ocean are warming very little. The Arctic land and ocean show strong warming – wierd!
    We can never go 100 years emitting CO2 with the present 2.1% per year increase. In 100 years that will be 333 times the present emissions. When I contact experts they are very doubtful that we can develop the needed increase in oil and natural gas reserves. [In an earlier pre-PhD life I spent 4 years in international oil exploration, and know and respect these experts .]
    In any case fossil fuels will probably become non-competitive compared to solar, wind, nuclear, etc.
    An important point – made earlier – is that the measured data show very moderate warming. The model predictions do not fit the data, but exaggerate the warming and other associated dire consequences. Please see web site below. The models are failures, but are used by the climate establishment to alarm the politicians and to feed the media. This is not science! As an experimentalist I feel the models, to be accepted, must agree with the data.
    https://science.house.gov/sites/republicans.science.house.gov/files/documents/HHRG-114-SY-WState-JChristy-20160202.pdf

    • Gene Preston says:

      The CO2 decline is going to be too slow to prevent the ice at the poles from melting. The rise in CO2 is still accelerating, not even a steady rise yet, never mind it not increasing or declining as you suggest. We are a very long ways from CO2 declining.

    • mcubedecon says:

      Again, you’re describing a single scenario of the future, and your depiction is no more certain than those of the climate scientists that you are rebutting. In fact you use the word “probable” in your reply. We cannot act as though you’re vision of the future is the only one. We are not debating the scientific basis of climate science here–I will concede that the forecasts are uncertain and unknowable. But uncertainty doesn’t imply inaction. In fact, it implies that more action is required because we don’t know the range of possible outcomes.

  15. Pingback: Revue des blogs – lundi 7 mars 2016 – Veille énergie climat

  16. i find this blog to be of significant timely importance. I wish that Professor Maximilian Auffhammer share or send this to both Clinton and Sanders. This can help advance the quality of the debate on energy and climate change.

  17. Jack Ellis, Tahoe City, CA says:

    Politicians are great at making unrealistic promises (see for example, California High Speed Rail) that tell voters what they want to hear. Especially in California, energy policy is all about generating jobs no matter how much it costs. It’s enough to make a rational person cry.

  18. pbradyus says:

    Gene – that is OK. The data indicate the probability of a GW climate-crisis this century is also zero!
    Seriously though, the EU and US have reduced C emissions about 10% in the last decade – the US by replacing coal by natural gas, and the EU via huge renewable subsidies and their use. China has made separate agreements with the US and at Paris that they will reduce emissions by ~ 2030. I am not betting on that, but they have lots of domestic pressure, and they are shifting to a more consumer and tech-driven economy.
    It is my understanding that there is sort of an average or equilibrium [preindustrial?] CO2 concentration level that is about 280 ppmv. When levels go above this the Earth greens, etc., and has or develops CO2 sinks which tend to bring the level down, and the opposite when levels fall. Does that seem to be the case? [I am not a climate scientist – just learning some. I was an experimental physicist, and want any model or theory to agree with the measurements, which is what is bothering me now. The measured warming rate is very moderate – about 0.11 C per decade, but the models predict rates about 2.4 times larger! The problem is one cannot properly do climate experiments, or only very limited ones.]
    The IPCC Climate Change 2014 report notes that presently “about 40% of emissions remain in the atmosphere; the rest are removed and stored in plants, the soil, the ocean”, etc. Just now, this amounts to about 24 Gt/yr stored. So, we do have, at least temporarily, some help getting CO2 levels back to “normal” from whatever level they go to while the Chinese, etc., get their emissions under control. The accompanying pollution which spreads over much of Asia, is providing strong motivation for them to do so.
    They are building solar arrays, nuclear plants, NG pipelines to Russia and LNG terminals/facilities, etc. at half the cost, and in half the time we can. But Gene is correct; the data show that emissions will continue to rise, now ~2%/yr, maybe averaging ~1%/yr for the next 15 years if Paris promises are kept. This is a factor 1.16. So CO2 emissions added to the Atmosphere, are [40% of 40 Gt/yr, times 15yr, times 1.16] equals 278 Gt. The IPCC data indicate this adds almost 10%, taking the CO2 level to about 440 ppmv, and the temp up ~ 0.15 C, plus-or minus 20%.
    Hopefully, by the 2030s emissions will be constant, with Mother Nature and her sinks still absorbing about 60%, and 40% of CO2 going into the atmosphere. The carbon-free renewables, backed where necessary by NG, should have really kicked in by then.
    Cooling can’t occur unless emissions are reduced more than 40%, which looks like an additional 50 years at 1% per year reduction! Meanwhile another 21% will be dumped into the atmosphere, so to ~530 ppmv, but less than present dump-rate and its projected ppmv and T increase of 0.55 C. It is a long haul, but if the measured moderate warming rate holds we have time, and can make it in my, maybe overly optimistic, scenario! Comments, corrections welcomed by this climate student!

    • Gene Preston says:

      You are getting the rise mixed up with the amount of cumulative CO2. Cutting the rise a few percent is nothing at all, because the cumulative CO2 keeps rising even with nearly 100% reduction in the rate of CO2 production. There will not be any dropping of CO2 any time this century.

      • pbradyus says:

        Gene – I am not “getting the rise mixed up with the amount of cumulative CO2.” These are completely different! Presently, the IPCC finds that the global emissions are almost 40 Gt per year and have been increasing about 2.2% per year for the past decade or so. About 40% of these emissions remain in the atmosphere and presumably are the main drivers behind a global temperature increase of 0.11 degrees Celsius per decade. The cumulative amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is about 3000 Gt [Gigatonnes].
        Agreements to cut the rise or rate of rise to zero by 2030 have been made at Paris and separately by China in previous talks with the US. There is internal and external pressure on the Chinese and other Asian countries to do so. Of course as I noted and calculated, CO2 will keep accumulating even at constant emission rates.
        As emissions decline, less CO2 goes into the atmosphere each year, but, of course, the amount there is still increasing. However, please note that the Earth has huge CO2 sinks which take in almost 60% of the CO2 emitted. These are the oceans, greenery, soils, etc. For example, forestation now exceeds deforestation, crop yields have risen rapidly, productive crop lands are pushing farther north, winters are shorter and growing seasons longer, more open ocean as ice melts more and sooner, etc.
        It is projected that emissions will peak and begin to decline in the 2030s. The IPCC also expects warming rates to slow. The Earth’s CO2 sinks do not go away. They continue to gobble up an estimated 24 Gt of CO2 per year. As renewables’ output, conservation, etc., increase, emissions will decline.
        It may take 50 years at a decline of 1% per year, but when emissions decline to about 24 Gt per year they are taken up by the Earth’s sinks and do not go into the atmosphere. Further emission declines take CO2 out of the atmosphere and produce global cooling according to the IPCC’s theory that most warming is due to CO2.
        All this takes years, decades, but at present rates [0.11 C per decade], and eventually, declining rates of warming, we do have that time. GW has been a very slow process over time, and it will take a similarly long time to unwind it!

        .

        • Gene Preston says:

          I don’t think your CO2 takeup sinks takes into account that a warming ocean will turn around its absorption and at some point begin releasing its CO2, creating a monster of a nightmare positive feedback situation of runaway GHGs that cannot be stopped.

        • mcubedecon says:

          Gene & Paul, you’ve gone off into the weeds of climate science and possible response strategies. I’ll return to my point: no matter what you’re position on climate change forecasts, there is large uncertainty over the range of potential outcomes. You cannot deny that the range includes potentially catastrophic outcomes. (If you are denying this I want to ask whether you anticipated the events leading up to the Great Recession to such a degree that you made millions by shorting the market…) That means that we must consider that full range in making policy choices going forward and not ignoring the risks in the worse outcomes.

          • Gene Preston says:

            I’m 100% sure we are in for a lot of problem due to the CO2 buildup. Don’t put me in the denial category. I’m saying we will have a 30 ft ocean rise by 2100, 20 ft from Greenland and 10 ft from Antarctica. There is no stopping it.

          • mcubedecon says:

            And Paul has offered a considered counter opinion to your opinion (asyou have to his). I’m sorry, but there is a chance that either or both of your are wrong. If you believe you are 100% right, you’re relying on faith not science. (BTW, if you’re so certain about this future, you should be arguing to not bother to reduce emissions, but rather to abandon all coastal areas and rebuild on much higher ground.)

            And most importantly you can not indemnify the rest of the world against the risk that you might be wrong, not matter how strongly you believe in the correctness of your opinion. You simply cannot know the future (and if you do, you’d be extremely wealthy.)

            I’ll also point out trying to argue that you are certain about your prediction will get you nowhere in addressing the concerns of those who you want to convince. The more fruitful method is to demonstrate that if the other side is wrong, that the consequences are large if they’re wrong versus the consequences if you’re wrong.

          • Gene Preston says:

            I have the data. I’ve been plotting the loss of ice. Its accelerating at 8% per year for the past 15 years. Look at page 4 of this link, and then the spreadsheet analysis: http://www.egpreston.com/climate_updates.pdf
            I’m 100% certain this trend will continue. At some point, maybe 2050 I definitely would be moving to higher ground. Of course by then we will all know if Im right or wrong and the world will be in a panic if Im right. And another thing, wind and solar are not going to get us out of this mess.

          • mcubedecon says:

            Gene, can you indemnify me and everyone else in the world against you’re being wrong? If you can’t then your certainty is worthless. And in fact, that you allude to “getting us out of this mess” implies that you’re not so certain about the outcome, that there is an alternative path of some kind. Either you’re 100% certain that the polar caps will melt no matter what we do, or you’re not.

          • Gene Preston says:

            Im 100% certain the ice caps will melt to the tune of at least 20 to 30 ft ocean rise this century. There is uncertainty whether we will see a 200 ft rise from Antarctica over the next 200 years. There is uncertainty whether we will be able to transition off fossil fuels at all. That is still up in the air. I’m not optimistic. There has never been put together a workable plan for transitioning off fossil fuels. And that includes Mark Jacobson’s fanciful WWS plan – which I am 100% certain is not going to happen, for technical reasons Mark forgot to analyze.

      • mcubedecon says:

        Gene, you and many others have CLAIMED 100% certainty, but you can’t claim such omniscience so please stop doing so. Just citing your calculations for point estimates is not sufficient to demonstrate certainty in a chaotic world. Accept the fact that you can’t comprehensively know the entire global situation. It’s simply too complex. I’ll agree that the PROBABILITY of the outcome you are forecasting is in your favor, but that’s not certainty. So please don’t come back at me again with a statement about projections as though they are facts–they are no such thing. Understand also you will never convince anyone on the other side of the argument by trying to claim that you are more certain than them–it quickly degrades into a playground argument. They usually aren’t stupid people–they just have a different understanding.

        • Gene Preston says:

          My projection is based on a simple observation that is holding constant. What is going to stop the constancy of the acceleration? There is no observed feedback mechanism that is removing the acceleration. You are just trying to ignore what is happening.

  19. Alex Carr says:

    Hopefully this will happen very soon, because we have heard and saw a lot of good proposal but most of them are gone in the wind and not even started.

  20. pbradyus says:

    Gene – there is a large solubility pump which drives CO2 to the deep, cold ocean because CO2 is much more soluble in cold water. In physics it might be called a diffusion gradient. The ocean is very cold below a few hundred meters, and can hold about 100 times the CO2 that is in the atmosphere. The ocean will cool as the atmosphere does, and will become less acidic as the partial pressure of CO2 above it declines. But the ocean will remain a CO2 sink.
    The IPCC 2014 Climate Change report shows the sea-level rising 2-2.5 cm per decade – about 8 inches by 2100. Melting the Greenland ice requires higher temperatures and hundreds of years they calculate. The Wisconsin Glacier, I believe, took thousands of years to melt when a large GW [eventually 8-10 C] ended the last glacial ice age.

    mcubedecon – are you on the Davis campus? Over coffee you could give me a climate lesson – pbradyus@yahoo.com. I am only trying to suggest a possible scenario/path, based on current data and its change, whereby we could wind down and then unwind this long GW process of the past 100+ years. It looks like it could take that amount of time, but warming is moderate and will at some point decline as we progress.
    We have to fully develop alternative energy sources. Fossil fuel reserves are limited – I did that calculation earlier. The melting business is worrisome as Man has control ever only a fraction of it – not the huge fraction that is depicted in the media! The GW and melting that ended the last glacial ice age will go on, even as we cool 1+ C, and will require some measures – like looking to the Dutch!

  21. Max: 28% population growth and 44% reduction in energy demand would be possible by about 2.3% annual improvement in energy efficiency, given energy service demand per capita being constant. That is well within what has been shown to be possible.

    The German example: argualy the high costs are due to A) unnecessary extensions of feed-in-tariffs for too long a time (i.e. when the technological learning curve was already walked down to sufficient degree); and B) pay-out for utilities with lignite-based coal plants (i.e. a political price). California does not need to do the same, and not to the same degree.

    Bernie Sanders’ plan might be unrealistic, but I think it deserves more scrutiny.

    • Gene Preston says:

      Bernie’s plan is Mark Jacobson’s WWS plan which has a number of problems. The transmission network needed to too large and costly with too much environmental impact. Imagine 200 765 kV lines entering the desert SW to pick up solar power. Isn’t going to happen. You are going to need a much more extensive 765 kV grid in the east and also going to ERCOT. The DC transmission plan recently proposed fails simple N-1 testing for ERCOT which requires no more than 3000 MW flow over any single DC tie line. To import 30,000 MW to ERCOT would require about 10 of these DC ties, not the couple of them shown in the plan. By the way ERCOT peaks at 70,000 MW and has an average annual load of about 40,000 MW. The entire US peaks over 1 million MW and each 765 kV transmission line is good for probably no more than 10,000 MW max. We are talking about a lot of new transmission to move renewable power around. Isn’t going to happen. People hate power lines as much as they do nuclear plants. The other thing wrong with the WWS is the use of exotic new storage technologies, which are not even commercial yet, such as hydrogen storage. If we had a hydrogen economy we would not need the electric grid would we? Hydrogen economy- been there don’t that under president Bush. It didn’t pan out. Too expensive. And batteries are too expensive to move wind and solar energy timewise. In ERCOT a wind and solar plan would need about 6.6 trillion dollars in storage at 400 $/kWh. Even droping battery costs down to $100 per kWh promised by Elon still leaves batteries costing over a trillion dollars just for Texas. Our market system design cannot support this investment. If we dumb down the storage system it leaves us with a massive dependence on fossil fuels which doesn’t meet the intent of WWS. I agree with the WWS mission and goals but its just not a workable plan. Get back to the drawing board everyone and come up with a more workable plan. By the way Im impressed by Hillary’s depth of knowledge recently on energy. She must have some new and good advisors. Gene Preston, PhD PE

  22. pbradyus says:

    Gene – we have a lot of time to do all this. It has taken more than a century to raise the average global temperature by about 0.9 degree Celsius. The IPCC asserts that reaching 2.0 C could cause a GW climate-crisis. However, the best recent analyses find the average global temperature rising about 0.11 C per decade in the recent ~4 decades. If this rise were to continue we reach 2.0 C in a century, thus giving us time to develop renewables and the required infrastructure.

    Actually emission rates are already declining in the EU and US, and China and most of Asia have made promises to do so in about 2 decades. I admit that volcanic emissions, El Nino’s, etc., can cause appreciable temperature changes, but the IPCC asserts that it is more than 90% certain that most of the average rise is due to carbon emissions, mainly CO2. The temperature rise has been faster in recent years as emission rates have increased.

    Since 1979 we have had the more comprehensive global coverage of satellite measurements and recent analyses from up to 15 satellites. Different levels of the atmosphere temperature can also be measured, and used to help test the development of more accurate models for future warming predictions. [Most of the present models used over-predict the warming rate by factors averaging about 2.4.]

    • mcubedecon says:

      This is an interesting set of analyses. I’m interested to know if this has been peer-reviewed in some fashion. (And yes, I understand that there might be hostility in the climate science community to the implications in this report.) One issue of concern however is that Christy assumes that the warming relationship and trend will continue to be linear when we don’t know if it is chaotic or non-linear with potential key turning points. Also, do we know if warming 0.1 C per decade is an exceptionally fast rate? Context is key here.

      • Gene Preston says:

        The melting of ice at the poles is not linear, its exponential, 8% per year acceleration that has been holding steady for a decade. See page 4 of this info I have been collecting: http://www.egpreston.com/climate_updates.pdf

      • pbradyus says:

        Dear mcubedecon: Sorry I did not see your comment or questions. What you raise is very important. The climate data people have not been able to get the modelers to compare their predictions to the data. If you look at the IPCC Climate Change 2014 Synthesis Report you see on p.3 some temperature data over the last 175 years, and the sea-level rise over the last ~110 years, as well as the atmospheric CO2 concentrations, and global CO2 emissions.
        The modelers have all the input data they need, but they do not compare their model predictions for temperature or sea-level increase to the p.3 data over the last 5 or 10 decades. Why not? Christy does make temperature comparisons for the range where he has satellite data and shows the models to be sadly lacking with predictions that exaggerate the measured warming by an average factor close to 2.5. He does it in the report you reference:
        https://science.house.gov/sites/republicans.science.house.gov/files/documents/HHRG-114-SY-WState-JChristy-20160202.pdf
        The latest version 6.0 of UAH satellite temperature dataset is in the preprint below: 0.114 C per decade. I am not sure they publish this in the literature. It is not new science – just a reanalysis of satellite data. They continue to update it as more sat. data come in each month, and as they refine analysis methods. Other groups also analyze the Sat. data, but Christy’s group were the pioneers in doing so and in getting it right, I understand. He was awarded NASA’s Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement around 2001, and in 2002, the American Meteorological Society’s “Special Award”. The other satellite groups now find similar trends – near 0.11 C/decade at or near the Earth’s surface. Christy has been a critic of the IPCC GW catastrophic scenarios, and his data support his outlook. Earlier he worked with the IPCC, I understand.
        On p.9 of the IPCC 2014 report [above] are the predictions of the models for various scenarios, but none for the interval where there are data! What are they afraid of? I guess we know!
        The climate establishment feeds these predictions of alarming, exaggerated warming to the federal funding agencies, to the politicians and to the media which then feed them to the public. We see regularly alarmist articles in the Sacramento Bee and the Davis Enterprise; eg, that the sea-level will rise 7-10 feet by the end of this century. The IPCC Report p.3 rise is about 15 cm in the last century, possibly increasing to 2 cm per decade in the last few decades, or about 7-8 inches by the end of the century.
        I am not a climate scientist, but a retired nuclear/high-energy, heavy-ion experimentalist. It was visits to UCD Physics by Freeman Dyson, whom I first met at Princeton where he is at the Institute for Advance Studies. That is also where Oppenheimer and Einstein worked when I was a student there. At UICD Dyson noted that he had looked at the climate models and found them inadequate in several areas, and he felt the issue of a GW crisis much exaggerated.
        You are correct that there has been opposition and criticism of [at least] earlier satellite data analyses. The release by a hacker or someone inside of the Climate-gate letters and documents indicate that climate establishment scientists from several well-funded climate centers colluded to block FOIA requests for original data, etc., and to blackball scientists who criticized the establishment climate-catastrophe predictions as being too extreme. Climate Journals which published articles and data unfavorable to the establishment line were boycotted. Christy was viewed as a skeptic, or even worse, called an denier – which he was not. He was measuring the warming and it was moderate compared to the establishment output to funding agencies, politicians and the media.
        In the LT [Lower Troposphere] which is the lower atmosphere, the authors of the Version 6,0 report at the site below, find a trend over the last 37+ years – the years the satellites were up – of +0.114 C per decade. One can see how hard it is to measure such a change which is only about 0.01 C per year. And that may explain why the first surface station measurements were unreliable. Human influence was always a problem as over time cities grew up near or around the stations which were on the ground. [The increasing heat-island effect gave a larger temperature trend increase which had to be corrected for.] There were other difficulties for ocean measurements which Christy discusses.
        It also took years of work to get the satellite data analyses right – make all the right corrections and cross-calibrations for as many as 15 satellites – but now I believe the satellites provide the best global temperature data. Balloon data are also good where available and agree well with Sat. data as Christy shows. The balloons use thermistors, while Sats. use EM radiation from oxygen like docs use radiation from patients’ ear canals.
        These are very important measurements because they show the models give and predict too much warming by factors averaging near 2.5. I agree the data fluctuate about a linear fit, but over shorter times, like the Sat. data time interval, linear is a reasonable approximation. Extrapolating the 0.11 C per decades for the future assumes that CO2 emissions continue to grow at the present and immediate past rate of 2.1% per year. This is unlikely for at least two reasons: We will not discover the necessary oil and gas reserves, and CO2 emissions are expected to eventually level off and decline as renewables become competitive.
        The rate of 0.11 C /decade puts any possible climate catastrophe of near 2.0 C, as defined by the IPCC, in the next century [adding 1.1 to the present 0.9 above pre-industrial values]. As an oil and gas geophysicist from my 4 years with Schlumberger in my early life, I can assert that we will not achieve the 333 times present reserves to sustain this rate of CO2 emissions for 100 years or anywhere close to it.
        Global CO2 emissions are expected to begin to decline in about 2 decades, and fossil fuels will become uncompetitive at some later point as renewables and their storage techniques are developed. Also, our greening Earth and the oceans now sequester about 60% of CO2 emissions, and this appears to be increasing according to IPCC 2014 numbers. So we do not have to reduce CO2 emissions to zero to begin to take CO2 out of the atmosphere, and eventually the oceans, and produce cooling.
        Sorry this got so long!
        Reference to Version 6.0 of the UAH Temperature Dataset
        http://www.drroyspencer.com/2015/04/version-6-0-of-the-uah-temperature-dataset-released-new-lt-trend-0-11-cdecade/

      • pbradyus says:

        Dear mcubedecon, my reply got put down below – sorry for the delay. I will try to move it here: April 12, 2016 at 8:21 pm
        Dear mcubedecon: Sorry I did not see your comment or questions. What you raise is very important. The climate data people have not been able to get the modelers to compare their predictions to the data. If you look at the IPCC Climate Change 2014 Synthesis Report you see on p.3 some temperature data over the last 175 years, and the sea-level rise over the last ~110 years, as well as the atmospheric CO2 concentrations, and global CO2 emissions.
        The modelers have all the input data they need, but they do not compare their model predictions for temperature or sea-level increase to the p.3 data over the last 5 or 10 decades. Why not? Christy does make temperature comparisons for the range where he has satellite data and shows the models to be sadly lacking with predictions that exaggerate the measured warming by an average factor close to 2.5. He does it in the report you reference:
        https://science.house.gov/sites/republicans.science.house.gov/files/documents/HHRG-114-SY-WState-JChristy-20160202.pdf
        The latest version 6.0 of UAH satellite temperature dataset is in the preprint below: 0.114 C per decade. I am not sure they publish this in the literature. It is not new science – just a reanalysis of satellite data. They continue to update it as more sat. data come in each month, and as they refine analysis methods. Other groups also analyze the Sat. data, but Christy’s group were the pioneers in doing so and in getting it right, I understand. He was awarded NASA’s Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement around 2001, and in 2002, the American Meteorological Society’s “Special Award”. The other satellite groups now find similar trends – near 0.11 C/decade at or near the Earth’s surface. Christy has been a critic of the IPCC GW catastrophic scenarios, and his data support his outlook. Earlier he worked with the IPCC, I understand.
        On p.9 of the IPCC 2014 report [above] are the predictions of the models for various scenarios, but none for the interval where there are data! What are they afraid of? I guess we know!
        The climate establishment feeds these predictions of alarming, exaggerated warming to the federal funding agencies, to the politicians and to the media which then feed them to the public. We see regularly alarmist articles in the Sacramento Bee and the Davis Enterprise; eg, that the sea-level will rise 7-10 feet by the end of this century. The IPCC Report p.3 rise is about 15 cm in the last century, possibly increasing to 2 cm per decade in the last few decades, or about 7-8 inches by the end of the century.
        I am not a climate scientist, but a retired nuclear/high-energy, heavy-ion experimentalist. It was visits to UCD Physics by Freeman Dyson, whom I first met at Princeton where he is at the Institute for Advance Studies. That is also where Oppenheimer and Einstein worked when I was a student there. At UICD Dyson noted that he had looked at the climate models and found them inadequate in several areas, and he felt the issue of a GW crisis much exaggerated.
        You are correct that there has been opposition and criticism of [at least] earlier satellite data analyses. The release by a hacker or someone inside of the Climate-gate letters and documents indicate that climate establishment scientists from several well-funded climate centers colluded to block FOIA requests for original data, etc., and to blackball scientists who criticized the establishment climate-catastrophe predictions as being too extreme. Climate Journals which published articles and data unfavorable to the establishment line were boycotted. Christy was viewed as a skeptic, or even worse, called an denier – which he was not. He was measuring the warming and it was moderate compared to the establishment output to funding agencies, politicians and the media.
        In the LT [Lower Troposphere] which is the lower atmosphere, the authors of the Version 6,0 report at the site below, find a trend over the last 37+ years – the years the satellites were up – of +0.114 C per decade. One can see how hard it is to measure such a change which is only about 0.01 C per year. And that may explain why the first surface station measurements were unreliable. Human influence was always a problem as over time cities grew up near or around the stations which were on the ground. [The increasing heat-island effect gave a larger temperature trend increase which had to be corrected for.] There were other difficulties for ocean measurements which Christy discusses.
        It also took years of work to get the satellite data analyses right – make all the right corrections and cross-calibrations for as many as 15 satellites – but now I believe the satellites provide the best global temperature data. Balloon data are also good where available and agree well with Sat. data as Christy shows. The balloons use thermistors, while Sats. use EM radiation from oxygen like docs use radiation from patients’ ear canals.
        These are very important measurements because they show the models give and predict too much warming by factors averaging near 2.5. I agree the data fluctuate about a linear fit, but over shorter times, like the Sat. data time interval, linear is a reasonable approximation. Extrapolating the 0.11 C per decades for the future assumes that CO2 emissions continue to grow at the present and immediate past rate of 2.1% per year. This is unlikely for at least two reasons: We will not discover the necessary oil and gas reserves, and CO2 emissions are expected to eventually level off and decline as renewables become competitive.
        The rate of 0.11 C /decade puts any possible climate catastrophe of near 2.0 C, as defined by the IPCC, in the next century [adding 1.1 to the present 0.9 above pre-industrial values]. As an oil and gas geophysicist from my 4 years with Schlumberger in my early life, I can assert that we will not achieve the 333 times present reserves to sustain this rate of CO2 emissions for 100 years or anywhere close to it.
        Global CO2 emissions are expected to begin to decline in about 2 decades, and fossil fuels will become uncompetitive at some later point as renewables and their storage techniques are developed. Also, our greening Earth and the oceans now sequester about 60% of CO2 emissions, and this appears to be increasing according to IPCC 2014 numbers. So we do not have to reduce CO2 emissions to zero to begin to take CO2 out of the atmosphere, and eventually the oceans, and produce cooling.
        Sorry this got so long!
        Reference to Version 6.0 of the UAH Temperature Dataset
        http://www.drroyspencer.com/2015/04/version-6-0-of-the-uah-temperature-dataset-released-new-lt-trend-0-11-cdecade/

  23. pbradyus says:

    Apologies for the term republicans; the House Science, etc., Committee is chaired by a Republican!

  24. Duane Richardson says:

    This is an interesting analyses for this serious matter of climate change.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s