Mark Twain said it best, there are “lies, damned lies and statistics.” It’s hard to tell which is which after closely reviewing the latest hatchet job on solar energy by the Koch brothers’ front group, The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA).
...and we have about 5 billion years to go until PEAK sun...
'...and we have about 5 billion years to go until PEAK sun...'
But a lot of those years will be leap years, so it's not all that scary.
If we removed every bit of coal burned today the net effect almost immediately would be four things. 1. Most of the planets electrical systems would have to be shut down. 2. A Major world-wide economic down turn would occur. 3. Deaths directly caused by air pollution caused by coal and oil based power plants would start to drop off pretty quickly. 4. Ironically, global warming would in the short term increase pretty rapidly because up to 60% of the warming is being offset by the SO2 being spewed out of these machines along side the CO2 and SO2 is a gas that reflects sunlight back into space ( a cooling agent). With it gone the existing CO2 already up in the air would immediately start trapping the greatly increased amount of solar radiance / energy that would be reaching the lower atmosphere. So, its a bit more complicated then just stopping the addition of CO2 and Methane. Oddly though one of the absolutely worst things we could do in the men time is to burn Nat. Gas. Why? Because Nat. gas puts out almost no SO2. Nat. gas is not only not a bridge to a cleaner future but quite the opposite. if we substituted Nat. Gas for all the coal & oil being burned it would still be putting up huge amounts of CO2 and methane , but little or no SO2 to offset all that stuff. So, once again the warming would in the short be greatly accelerated ! We need to switch to renewable s , but we also need to somehow trap and remove much of the CO2 overage now up there. In short, we need to get the CO2 PPM back down into the historical normal ranges of 190PPM to 280PPM and right now were at 400PPM. Good luck to us doing that in any kind of short or long term plan. Right now there is NO workable and cost effective way to do this, so were probably screwed.
Much of nature is already depleted. While manmade B.S. products like derivatives may have the sky their limit, Mother Earth's resources are often finite. In other words, "business as usual" according to this model cannot be maintained much longer.
Vandana Shiva has explained that peasant farmers doing magic with the soil would help to shift the soils and begin to shift climate. And instead of seeking ways to trap the spent CO2, the answer should be planting trees everywhere. Instead, more and more are taken down.
Robert - Thanks for sharing some provably techno- accurate and crucial econometric points about the ability of systematically increased, low-cost retro-fit conservation & net-new- efficiency measures to drastically reduce current BTU waste in high energy countries, and so to also to drastically reduce current/gross energy demands from fossil fuel sources, to say nothing of the benefits to world peace .
Among many other sensible Alternative EnergyThinking sources, the independent scientist Amory Lovins -- puls the Natural Resources Defense Council -- have been rigorously/credibly documenting for the past 30 yrs the economic,social & environmental benefits to mass global humanity of exactly such measures.
You're also correct, IMO< in saying that Corporate Capitalist Politics/Media have now managed to suppress both widespread knowledge of and public discussion of, energy simple conservation/efficiency alternatives-- even if transitional --, to the otherwise impending global energy crisis.
The only point I disagree with, in your assessment as posted, is your apparent premise that no viably aspiring USA politician can now, or ever again, afford to tell the truth to the public -- in this case RE viable/alternate- interim means of phasing-out net-new increments to carbon-based BTU sources via increases in something as simple ans labor-intensive as implementation of upgraded energy-use conservation/efficiency measures.
FWIW: I think that the now- near-total corporate lock down on any sane and decently-intentioned, potentially upcoming, national political leaders is not yet totally secured by the mad oligarchs who presently control most our political economy policies and media perceptions, sub rosa.
In any case, it will never lead to anything Better or Good, to give-in to the idea that any corrupt polities' false official truths are so powerful that even honestly-intended dissenters, themselves, then have to lie, too, to get past them. .
There was an excellent article in last month's issue of Scientific American about the current state of affairs as small solar (and to a much lesser degree, small wind) makes inroads into the monopoly of municipal electricity. I won't try to condense the analysis, which is important to examine on a case by case basis, as this shows how this is going to play out in the immediate future (here in the US.) I can only condense my conclusion, which is that small solar does have the potential to cripple the major power distributors and the coal for electricity industry. The vast wealth of some coal extractors is hard to comprehend. Amassed capital creates a life of its own, and the large operators own a kingdom hidden below the surface. A kingdom that consolidated wealth (and consequent poverty) amassed over the better part of two centuries. Their wealth lies in the valuation of their reserves. Frame the argument that solar has a better valuation than coal? Divestment is important, but the infiltration of the energy market is just as.
That they are fighting with every dirty trick at their disposal is not at all surprising. A further wrinkle to my conclusion is that crippling the distributors and the suppliers may be a pyric victory if the capacity is not in place to replace what we rely on. The consent manufacturing apparatus could frame solar as the culprit and not the savior if our physical society does a massive fail. It is also too optimistic to hope that large holdings of mineral rights will be re-joined with the undivided portion of the surface estates; more likely that obscenely wealthy investor cartels will consolidate fewer and larger subterranean empires from the bones of the former.
But all projections of the current and future energy needs of "modern" society proceed from an agreed baseline of varying degrees of, to my mind, pessimism. We really don't know what can be accomplished in production of solar electric because we are not yet really trying - it is being stifled. Likewise, there is no vigorous debating of the baseline because that inevitably is antithetical to a consumption driven economy. There is nothing so dangerous as an idea. And the idea that it might be possible NOT to be a wage slave is an idea that the medieval ownership class will continue to crush with all the vigor it can muster.