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We Have 12 Years to Save—or Lose—Our Only Home


#25

I got a plan: Democratic Socialism - because the priorities of the corporate/political class are not the same a We, the people!


#26

It is even more dire than that. He makes a point that there have been reports that we might have only till 2020 to avert catastrophic climate change. In addition to reports in the past that have cited the point of no return were years we already well past.


#27

Thanks, I haven’t stayed on top of this. If you noticed earlier this year at one point there where hurricanes the whole length of the equator. Big one’s at that. Just waiting for them to start joining hands to wash the Planet clean.

“…you wonder why the world is turning around, in the end it doesn’t matter at all…” The Moody Blues


#28

Just to be clear, I am in favor of the development of some kinds of nuclear, but not all. I think the government-developed and sponsored kind of nuclear we originally wound up with was an inferior path, and an opportunity missed, and it is finally being seen as a dead-end. And it isn’t certain that the new kinds in development will come close to what appears to be their potential, but the only way we find out is if we develop them. Also, the goal isn’t to switch all fossil fuels to nuclear. The goal is to switch all fossil fuels to clean, low-carbon alternatives, and I think we get our best shot at that by developing a suite of alternatives. We may not know at the time we are developing them which ones will get used the most, but we should develop any and all that look like they have good potential.

Regarding the timeframe, yes, it would have been better if we’d started all this decades ago, and it may be too late now to prevent all serious damage, but that doesn’t mean it is too late to reduce the ultimate severity of the damage. And even if the situation looks dire, it is still uncertain, and it would be far better to make the attempt even if it ultimately proves futile, than to not make the attempt and then find out we could have developed something that could have helped.

And the kinds of nuclear in development now are not like what we’ve had before, so we can’t really use the previous model to make predictions about how fast something different could be deployed. The critical issue is going to be how successful they are at coming up with something that has high market value. The overall build speed will be able to meet any level of market demand through overlapping and parallel builds.

“Even if the impossible were to happen, and molten salt reactor technology is perfected,”

It won’t be perfected and it doesn’t have to be. All of our technology goes into use long before it comes anywhere close to perfection.

“and nuclear plants are fully licensed, financed, built, and put into operation, at the scale necessary within the next 12 years,”

I think most of that time will be taken up with development. The best of the new reactors might just be reaching the market 12 years from now, but I think it won’t be until the 30’s that we find out what their build rate potential really is. I also expect new orders for older forms of nuclear will fall off as the new reactors start reaching demonstration phase, since for most it will make more sense to wait a bit and see if something better will soon be available. However, on our current trajectory, the projections are for coal to peak in another few years, but remain within 90% of that peak well through 2040, and gas and oil are both expected to still be growing by 2040, and new nuclear would at least have a shot at making a real difference in the trajectory in that timeframe. And the effects if we fail to make dramatic reduction in 12 years will not be immediate. These reductions are seen as needed to avoid locking in later consequences, but this also assumes we will not be developing and deploying strategies for removing and sequestering carbon that has already been released.

“this will do nothing to mitigate the devastating environmental impacts (such as habitat loss, fresh water depletion, waste generation, etc) that are associated with the present excessive rate of energy consumption.”

It could help to curtail the environmental devastation and habitat loss directly caused by fossil fuel extraction and consumption, which is not a complete solution, but it’s still significant. Many of the new forms of nuclear would also be good candidates for combined electricity generation and water desalination. It won’t bring world peace, but it might help reduce the impetus for fossil fuel wars. It won’t end poverty, but it might help large populations of the energy-poor of the world. And if used to make synfuels, it could help reduce the market incentives which are currently causing tropical forests to be cleared to grow biofuel crops. There are many problems with our way of life it would not help with, but it is enough that it could help with a few of the larger problems we are facing.

“What is feasible within this time frame, but almost assuredly unlikely to occur, is meeting the targets without nuclear power, through:
Reduction in excessive energy consumption
Switching to energy efficient devices and practices including passive solar cooling/heating and lighting”

This is going to be swamped out by the rise in new energy demand. Even with first-world moves to greater efficiency, projections are for global energy consumption to roughly double by mid-century.

“A switch high level of combined solar, wind, wave, geothermal energy”

It would also be theoretically feasible to get there without wave and geothermal energy. But every option you eliminate slows progress down and makes the overall effort harder. So why eliminate options when you don’t have to?

“Promotion of locally based energy generation rather the exceedingly wasteful practice of centralized distributed energy.”

Hydropower is centralized. Geothermal is centralized. Wind farms and utility solar facilities are centralized. Biofuel power plants are centralized. Rooftop solar is just about the only significant form of energy which is distributed, but even then, it is overwhelmingly connected to a grid under centralized control. And what would be wasteful about having one or two centralized reactors near large cities? It certainly wouldn’t require anywhere near the grid infrastructure as gathering that energy from distant desert solar farms and open-plains or marine wind farms.

“Mark Jacobson, from UC Berkeley, has an outline for how to achieve such a transition”

Yes, he has an outline, but it includes some fanciful assumptions which are largely disconnected from reality, and his plan is not taken seriously by energy analysts and policy developers. At the most, what it shows is a scenario which might be physically possible, given a sufficient global commitment to do it. What it doesn’t show is that it is the best way to get there, or how to develop the global commitment to do it. So I completely agree with your assessment that this is almost assuredly unlikely to occur, given our current political realities and market-driven systems. Some people see this and conclude we have to change the global social, political and economic system, but again, where is the plan for how to do that? What are the chances that such a global revolution is going to happen quickly? Has such a thing ever happened? Market-driven technology revolutions, on the other hand, are commonplace and happen all the time, and they can be started by very small teams. And just looking at the physics and engineering, it looks quite possible to develop nuclear which can outcompete coal entirely, and at least partly outcompete natural gas. Oil will be the toughest, but even there, if nuclear synfuel options can even come close to the cost of petroleum fuels, that can at least start displacing the less profitable oil sources, and stop the exploration and development of such sources. And nuclear cargo ships could significantly reduce the amount of fossil fuel that sector uses. We may never have a single solution that can do it all, but just maybe, having lots of solutions that can each do a little will be good enough.


#29

Hi Trog.

Thanks for the response.

You’ve raised a number of good points. I agree with some of your analysis and perspective, and disagree with other points. One of the few things that I want to address is your comment that:

All these form of energy can be done on a small/community scale. New turbines have made microhydro much more efficient. Home and office geothermal heating is common in some parts of the Northeast, and cuts down on one of the greatest sources of fossil fuel consumption. Solar, wind, and biomass can be done on a community based scale. Additionally, in some states, municipalities can become their own energy provider and produced community based solar/wind/biomass energy. That is in addition to solar panels on home and office rooftops, etc. and in electric vehicle charging stations.

Much of my work with sustainable energy has been in unelectrified regions of developing world, where all of these forms of energy take the form of local, low power, stand alone systems or micro-grids.

Local community based sustainable energy generation is possible in the US, but less common due, mainly, to political factors. My work with sustainable energy in the US, has been with small scale community based energy generation in Massachusetts, where some legislators sought to promote sustainable energy. In Mass, there have been several community based energy cooperatives (See: https://www.cooppower.coop/) where unlike the large corporate modeled cooperatives in the Southwest, general embrace the cooperative principles along the lines of the 10 principles outlined by the Mandragon corporation (https://tradepractices.wordpress.com/2012/07/09/basic-principles-of-the-mondragon-cooperative-corporation/).


#30

First, McPherson is to justifiable alarmism what denying delayalists are to scientific skepticism–or something like that. He uses the same deceptive and manipulative tactics they do–cherry picking, straw person misrepresentation, outright lies, etc. He makes completely unscientific pronouncements–for example, about 4 years ago he said categorically that civilization would collapse within 5 years. It was at least the 2nd time he said that. There are at least several good debunkings of his nonsense on the net; here’s one:

Instead of being taken in by frauds like McPherson, you might want to get your RDA of existential terror from Kevin Anderson, the many recent criticisms of the IPCC 1.5 report as unrealistically optimistic, this: https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/148cb0_a0d7c18a1bf64e698a9c8c8f18a42889.pdf

and this more complete but still incomplete list of things that mean it’s worse than it seems: https://disqus.com/home/discussion/grist/climate_sciences_official_text_is_outdated_heres_what_its_missing/#comment-3825972993

There is no hard deadline, before which we’re OK and after which everybody dies. There’s only a gradual, though accelerating, sinking into more and more horrible futures. 1.5 is no longer possible. 2 is essentially impossible, which means humanity is in for the worst few centuries of its existence ever and there’s not one thing we can do about that. But though mass extinction is certainly inevitable and human extinction is possible, the degree of extreme badness is still up for influencement. Premature public ejaculations of projected personal despair are not useful. Please take it to therapy, where it’s not hurting anyone and you can do something about it.


Scientific understanding has advanced and refined since 2010 so we know reaching 3°C would be much more serious than Spratt says here. Since he said it’s extremely serious, and we’re likely to reach at least 5° rather than just 3, we’re in for some shit. How much is still up to us.

Second, I assume you mean “avert”, not “advert”, which is a British abbreviation for “advertisement”.


#31

There are reasonable parameters in Jacobson’s studies and he’s up front about them (unlike his detractors’ multi-facetedly fraudulent response(1)). His plan is taken seriously by many experts, plus there are a bunch of other studies showing various ways to reach 100% RE. They’ve been dishonestly, manipulatively, and even violently opposed by anti-renewable fanatics (arfs), extremely well-funded by fossil fuel corporations and ultra-conservative political-economic gangs.

” what it shows is a scenario which might be physically possible,”

Yes, that’s exactly what it shows. It doesn’t attempt to show we can do it evenings and weekends with a beer in our hands. The debate has been about exactly that—whether it’s possible—despite the fact that that’s been obvious for decades…because of the arfs. Trog’s and other such trolls are completely technologically optimistic, with no credible reason, when it comes to nukes, while being completely technologically pessimistic when it comes to clean safe renewable energy, even though optimism is borne out simply by looking at facts and extrapolating longstanding trends. Trog’s arguments that follow are equally ridiculous but would take too long to adequately debunk, except to say that this is the way science is done, in small pieces, and a paper that shows gravity exists doesn’t need to show its implications for colonizing space travel to be legitimate. There are lots of strategies to develop the will to do it and they’re working, although tragically slowly. They are not Jacobson’s field. So Trog is overgeneralizing (or over-globalizing) here while doing exactly the opposite to deny that nukes can’t possibly do it—ignoring the real world in at least several ways.

No, it doesn’t look remotely possible to build nukes as cheap as coal. It’s not remotely possible. Coal is going out of business because it can’t compete with gas; gas can’t compete with wind or solar, even with batteries included and all the subsidies and externalities on gas and coal and nuke’s side. Wind and solar and batteries continue to drop rapidly in price (as they have been for 40 years) while nukes continue to rise rapidly in price.

The market religion is at least a major proximal cause for this crisis, if not THE proximal cause. (Our psychology is the ultimate cause.) Both are still driving us in exactly the wrong direction—toward fascism and utter destruction of all life on Earth. That’s not clean safe renewable energy’s fault; a hocketed mix of renewable energies is a major part of the psychotherapeutic solution in addition to being the major logistical solution to the GHG problem, and it’s the only solution that’s fast enough, cheap enough and technologically possible. Lots of studies have shown so, by different authors with different methods, covering the US, the world, and most regions of it.

The cost of installing 99% of the required nameplate capacity for 100% CRE by 2037 is $6.3T. This is similar to the cost of the Iraq & Afghan wars. (http://time.com/3651697/afghanistan-war-cost/)

http://cleantechnica.com/2016/10/12/heres-build-100-clean-renewable-energy-us-2040/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+IM-cleantechnica+(CleanTechnica)

“So what’s holding us back? Speaker after speaker [at the 2013 SF Pathways to 100% RE conference] emphasized that despite many misconceptions, it’s not technology.

The many roadmaps we already have – such as IEA’s World Energy Outlook,
recent NREL studies,
the IIASA Global Energy Assessment,
and the REN 21 Renewables Global Future Report – all show that the barriers to 100% renewables are not technological.”
Links from above:

IEA www.worldenergyoutlook.org/ gassy

NREL www.nrel.gov/analysis/re_futures/ 90% highest, mentions ”challenges”

IIASA www.iiasa.ac.at/web/home/research/Flagship-Projects/Global-Energy-Assessment/Home-GEA.en.html

REN21 www.martinot.info/REN21_GFR_2013_print.pdf

Jacobson—100% US state by state
http://theenergycollective.com/rosana-francescato/215641/100-percent-renewable-energy-100-percent-possible

https://cleantechnica.com/2017/07/22/100-clean-renewable-energy-possible-setting-record-straight/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+IM-cleantechnica+(CleanTechnica)

Jacobson: 100% For 139 Nations
Moving away from fossil fuels will bring with it ancillary benefits. For example, eliminating the use of oil, gas will cut about 13% from the world’s energy budget because mining, transporting, and refining those fuels are all energy-intensive activities. The greater efficiency of electric motors versus internal combustion engines could reduce global energy demand by another 23%.

https://cleantechnica.com/2017/08/23/100-renewable-energy-job-growth-139-nations-detailed-new-stanford-report/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+IM-cleantechnica+(CleanTechnica)

Jacobson: 100% Renewable Energy For 139 Nations II
“Based on these results, I can more confidently state that there is no technical or economic barrier to transitioning the entire world to 100 percent clean renewable energy with a stable electric grid at low cost,” Jacobson said for his university press team at Stanford.
https://news.stanford.edu/2018/02/08/avoiding-blackouts-100-renewable-energy/

Another 100% study
Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) in Finland has been sporadically releasing the results of a long-running research program which evaluates the potential of a country or region’s ability to transition to a 100% renewable electricity system. So far LUT has presented a case for a 100% Russia & Central Asia by 2030 ; https://cleantechnica.com/2016/01/30/russia-central-asia-could-hit-100-renewable-electricity-by-2030-study-finds/

a 100% Iran & Middle East by 2030; https://cleantechnica.com/2017/03/10/iran-middle-east-adopt-100-renewable-energy-system/

and its biggest accomplishment, a successful model of a 100% renewable energy planetary system. https://cleantechnica.com/2016/11/04/new-simulation-represents-100-renewable-energy-system/

India by 2050:
https://cleantechnica.com/2017/09/26/india-can-go-100-renewable-2050-avoid-western-emissions-issues/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+IM-cleantechnica+(CleanTechnica)

Our Renewable Future: Laying Out the Path for One Hundred Percent Clean Energy (2016), in which authors David Fridley and Richard Heinberg argue that a global transition to renewable energy will cost approximately $200 trillion dollars.

2 new studies showing 100%—mid 2018
https://pv-magazine-usa.com/2018/07/16/getting-closer-to-100-renewable-energy/

One study of Minnesota as a closed system shows 95% RE (5% gas) at 3.6₵/Kwh cheaper than current cost. MN has little hydro or other dispatchable RE; hooking it into a larger grid with hydro, 24/7 solar thermal, would make it even cheaper and allow it to reach 100% RE easily.

David Roberts on Flattening the Duck
www[DOT]vox[DOT]com/2016/2/12/10970858/flattening-duck-curve-renewable-energy

How to choreograph high-renewables electricity systems

Electrification necessary for renewablizing reduces energy demand by a third, and both the switch to RE and efficiency lead to dramatic reduction in the costs, morbidity, mortality caused by fossil fuels. Wiser lives could change even more. Clothesline paradox energies like solar heating and cooling and Annual Cycle Energy System for buildings reduce demand, too; EVs as mobile batteries, distributed generation and demand responses allow a 100% RE grid to include all primary energy. An RE high speed rail network can replace most if not all continental flying; shipping can be reduced and renewably powered…

The US (18% RE grid) has barely begun to develop its phenomenal renewable resources; hydro everywhere, especially in the Pacific NW and Canada (already at 60% hydro, 66% RE and equally phenomenal wind potential); 24/7 solar thermal especially in the SW, wind off all 3 coasts and across the plains and midwest, into Texas, especially; solar PV everywhere; extensive geothermal resources… and plenty of money, labor, expertise, and infrastructure to develop it all quickly. But it needs connected grids, and government coordination and mandates to make it happen in time to avoid global catastrophe. We can do it, it’s the only way, and we better start the real work right now.

(1) 100% Clean, Renewable Energy Is Possible, Practical, Logical: Setting The Record Straight
https://cleantechnica.com/2017/07/22/100-clean-renewable-energy-possible-setting-record-straight/


#32

Hi J4Zonian,

Thanks for the info and links. I’m covering this material, right now, in one of my classes - so the resources you provided are very helpful.

As you may have gathered from my comments to Trog, I am committed to sustainable energy and have worked on solar, wind, and geothermal systems in the developing world and, to a much lesser degree, in parts of the Northeast US. Trog has a great deal of knowledge regarding nuclear, I would not be surprised to learn that he has significant NSF funded research grants for work related to these technologies. I agree with some of his analysis, and disagree with a lot as well. He also does not seem to have my first hand experience with implementation of sustainable energy systems in the developing world, and with community owned energy cooperatives committed to the principles outlined by groups such as the Mondragon coop.

I respect and admire the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Dr. Amory Lovin. However, I find his video on the ‘Storage Myth’ misleading. Around the world some 1.5 billion or so lack access to electricity, another 1.5 billion or so have electricity from unreliable grids. These people cannot have gaps in electrical production met by other sections of the grid, because there are no such resources available. Having worked on stand alone systems and microgrids, I know the reality is that folk, A LOT of folk, need storage.

Additionally, while it is theoretically possible to supplement electrical deficits through the grid, the 1950/1970 grid tech present in many municipalities cannot handle this and it is too costly to fix the grid in the short term. My town has capped solar at a high of 50% generation demand. I am legally prohibited from putting solar on my house (even if I include batteries) because local substations are incapable of handling any more generation, during the day, without damaging costly equipment. So, even in the US, high capacity energy storage is still necessary.


#33

I don’t know what you’re talking about with “deficits”. Or why the lack of renewables and infrastructure is relevant. Whatever is needed must be built; whatever money is needed to do that must be found. I suggest taxing the rich into not being rich any more, since they’re causing the ecological crisis and we can’t afford them any more.

If you’re right about your town it’s being inexcusably irresponsible and shortsighted. I suspect ALEC is involved. It’s entirely possible to continue increasing solar as long as the extra is put into storage for a few hours. (EVs are great for that; they should be subsidized and soon required and charging stations provided at every workplace and parking lot.) Wind power, especially offshore, is now reaching higher capacity factors than gas and coal, and could also be added, and depending on where you live various dispatchable renewable sources can be built–hydro, micro-hydro, geothermal, solar thermal, and waste biomass.

Clothesline paradox energies should be required in all new buildings and strongly (and financially) encouraged in existing ones. Conservation measures should be implemented, especially targeted at non-peak solar times, and demand response or time-shifting should be, as well. It’s a mystery to me why the town is restricting solar (except yeah, there are those ALEC dollars at work) but unless it’s on a remote peak somewhere in the Brooks Range it should be connected to a grid that can absorb the extra. If you’re in California it’s a shame Governor Brown’s recent attempt to require a grid connection to the states east of it to the new RE standards law failed. Too many conservatives, even in California. Should be banned. Civilization’s survival depends on it.


#34

Hi J4Zonian,

In the US, some regions have electricity served through only a networks of local substations. Many of these substations are primarily old tech - 1950’s to 1970’s. They are limited in their ability to handle peaks in production and high demand. So, in regions with high solar, like where I live, production is capped at 50%. If it goes higher, the components of local substations will be unable to tolerate the high power without sustaining damage. Similarly, since the substations have are relatively few connections to external generators, the components can’t handle the how through power required at night when there is a local power deficit due to the fact that local generation is reduced to the non-solar component. For more technical info, see: https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?arnumber=7581355
http://article.sciencepublishinggroup.com/html/10.11648.j.ijepe.s.2015040501.14.html
https://www.tdworld.com/generation-and-renewables/myth-german-renewable-energy-miracle

My assessment is that advances in storage capacity are better than rebuilding new substations for several reasons:

  • Costs for the new generation of substations to replace old are prohibitive
  • Wide are distribution has large Joulian power losses
  • Local generation favors community energy cooperatives whereas large scale distributed generation promotes corporate plutocracy.

#35

“It is not enough that we do our best; sometimes we must do what is required.” Winston S. Churchill

The IPCC, as reported here, is being unrealistically optimistic. Because of feedbacks, the pipeline, and other factors, some of which are listed here https://disqus.com/home/discussion/grist/climate_sciences_official_text_is_outdated_heres_what_its_missing/#comment-3825972993

If we don’t eliminate fossil fuels in the next 7 years we’re likely to face such disasters and social collapses that we’ll be unable to implement any solutions in the face of runaway climate change. That is a flabbergastingly enormous job all by itself, let alone with the necessary complete transformations of forestry and agriculture, transportation and shipping, concrete and steel production, plastics, etc. We have to do what’s required.

If infrastructure isn’t up to the requirements of a 100% clean safe renewable energy grid it needs to be improved. Whatever money that takes needs to be gotten. (And rich countries will HAVE TO help poor countries A LOT more than they are. Many, many, many times more than they are.)

David Roberts has written quite a few very good articles about renewable generation, identifying and discussing the issues raised here, and others.

I’m all in favor of community generation, micro-grids within larger grids, etc. The last thing I want is for huge psychopathic fossil fuel corporations to be replaced by huge somewhat less psychopathic renewables corporations. I’m doing everything I can to make a radically egalitarian, radically democratic vision of an ecological society come to pass.

Transmitting electricity across a thousand miles, losses are 1-2%. While storage will help increase the potential of solar most, wide distribution and interconnected grids will help integrate wind the most. Distributed generation is crucial to eliminating fossil fuels and it has to be done quickly.

We could, if we were a sane society, pick the low-hanging fruit first, developing those grids lowest in RE first and bringing all up to the level where it might begin to get harder or more expensive. But those areas are lowest because they’re controlled by insane people–right wing arfs and denying delayalists, who won’t allow any significant development of RE.

Laws restricting RE at the state and increasingly local level are funded, even written by ALEC and funded by fossil fuels and the far right. So rational development is being stunted, and we either have to choose between the suicidal/homicidal choice of doing nothing for years longer, or developing some grids to very high percentage of RE while penalizing those who refuse to sane up.


#36

Hi J4Zonian,

I share your concern regarding sustainable energy which is why I teach it, research it, and work on community energy projects and microgrid projects in the developing world.

With all due respect to Winston Churchill, he was a privileged white political leader that never had a deep understanding of the realities of low income folk of color in developed countries much less the experiences of folk in the developing world.

I agree that wealth has been unfairly concentrated in the hands of a few and that those with vast wealth should support sustainable energy initiatives. However, for all the sustainable energy work I have done in the developing world, I’ve always had to struggle with local communities to raise the funding. I’ve never seen, or heard of, a process of getting wealthy to subsidize these efforts.

Similarly, within the US, any electric utilities can not afford the vast costs associated with upgrades needed to create a modern sustainable energy friendly grid. The wealthy in the US have not shown any interest in giving money to support these upgrades.

Eventually, once there is a large enough movement at the grassroots, maybe folk will be about to ensure that wealthy folk give money to support sustainable energy efforts. But it ain’t happening, to any large extent, now.

So what can be done, if the rich won’t give up their money to support these efforts?

Probably a lot of things that are not mutually exclusive.

For my part I do the following:

–> Internationally, continue to work with communities in the developing world to develop sustainable energy through the slow process of local funding and through sustainable energy businesses that offset profits through the price charged to wealthy.
–> Promote more community based sustainable energy cooperatives
–> Research storage devices
–> Educate people about sustainable energy

Your figure is inconsistent with data from the US Energy Information Agency:
https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=105&t=3

In 2017, the US generated about 4,034 Billion kWh of electricity (https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=427&t=3) with about 1,744 Million metric tons of Carbon emissions (https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=77&t=11). The 5% loss reported by the EIA gives about 201.7 Billion kWh of electrical losses with about 82.7 Million tons of Carbon emissions.


#37

We seem to be talking past each other quite a bit. I’m talking about reality, not the made-up nonsense and opinions talked about as political “reality”. The real reality is that unless we do the things I talked about, radically changing almost everything, civilization will end, and as it goes it will take millions of species with it, possibly all life on Earth. I’m not saying “the rich should…” or “it would be nice if…” or “personally, we should…” I’m saying for civilization to have a reasonable chance to survive the next century we must, in the next 7 years, eliminate fossil fuel use. (And do a bunch of other things but let’s stick to this for now. ) This is not about personal action, it’s about political action to change the way society acts–building the energy infrastructure we need, becoming wiser and more efficient, changing forestry and agriculture, etc.

If the rich don’t pay for the transition to an ecological society that uses only renewable energy–efficiently and for necessities for all–civilization will end in the next 100 years. I don’t care if they want to, are disinclined to, have or have not done it before, or anything like that. They will do it or civilization will end. We will make them do it or civilization will end. If it takes a peaceful revolution (violence on our part won’t work, although we absolutely can expect them to continue using it) and it seems likely it will, then that’s what we have to do, very soon.

When it comes to greenhouse gas emission reductions, I think of that match between target and technology—OK, so once a nerd… When you graph the decline we need in GHG emissions, it’s not the date we finally reach the GHG reduction goal that matters, it’s the area under the curve—the total cumulative carbon emitted. Since carbon continues to have a warming effect after it’s emitted, thus accumulating more heat the whole time it’s in the atmosphere, front-loaded reductions are infinitely more valuable than back end reductions. Population growth reduction provides exactly the opposite of what’s needed; its reductions start out at zero and increase very slowly, only beginning to reach significant size well after we need to have eliminated fossil fuel use and transformed forestry and agriculture.

With adequate infrastructure, transmitting a thousand miles means loss of about 2% or less. Your figure and the thing you linked to don’t disprove that and have nothing to do with it; it’s about system losses, not transmission losses per mile. Since eliminating fossil fuels depends on a widely distributed grid of mixed dispatchable and variable clean safe renewable energy sources, and since what we have fails to live up to that, it has to be changed.

When the (north) American revolution started, about 2% of people were in favor of independence. Even a violent revolution gathered support quickly. In 5 years the majority supported it and had won a war against the most powerful empire in history. In 1941 the US populace was divided and unwilling to do more than allow FDR to trade with and support the British sub rosa. Pearl Harbor changed that; instantly the country mobilized and in 3 years went from a minor military power (between Portugal and Hungary) to the most powerful country in the world, militarily, economically, and culturally. Remarkable transformations, including industrial ones, can and do happen.

Your comment about Churchill, true or not, is irrelevant. The quote is true about our situation now. We can’t do what’s convenient, easy, politically real, or comfortable. We have to do what physics and ecological science dictate is needed, for the survival of civilization and most or all life on Earth. And we can. Nothing is stopping us but the warped psychology of those in charge.


#38

Yes, we are talking past each other a lot. That is unfortunate. I think that part of the issue is that when you use ‘we’ you are likely referring to the US, while as a person from a community of color with roots in the developing world, I interpreted your use of ‘we’ to refer to those of us who are oppressed by the US and have little political or economic power. Rather than quibble about our differences, I’ll focus on our agreement with the urgent need to switch to sustainable energy.

I agree that we should focus on reality, which is why I have pointed to what I know from research as well as personal experience actually working to promote sustainable energy use in the developing world and in the US. I wish that there was a consensus on the concrete steps to bring about a switch to sustainable energy rapidly. However, having participated in numerous conferences related to sustainable energy, I have been frustrated at the lack of commitment to collaborate in concrete efforts to bring about a rapid shift to sustainable energy. Sure, lots of us can develop meta-heuristic algorithms for solving the multi-variate coupled non-linear partial differential equations for systems based on actual climate and load data or copula derived models, but that doesn’t mean that we are above collaborating with other folk on pushing for a switch to sustainable energy. I also recognize that few community or grassroots based organizations are strong enough to take this on.

So, for right now, the only concrete approach I see, is for folk to work to promote a rapid shift to sustainable energy through means that speak to their strengths and for which they can take on effectively. I give my personal efforts as a small sample of efforts that can be taken on right now. If you have concrete suggestions, I’d be sincerely happy to learn of them.

In particular -
Do you have any concrete suggestions for how to bring about the elimination of fossil fuel use in the next 7 years?
Do you have any concrete suggestions for how to get wealth individuals to fund the changes that are necessary?

The ‘thing’ I linked to is data from the US Energy Information Agency on actual transmission losses for the US electrical grid as it is now. It is actual concrete data accepted for use in many peer reviewed journals. Clearly future improvements will improve these grid losses, however, while some utilities are working in improvements, there are no large scale grid improvements in the works in the time frame of the next 7 years. If you have information otherwise or solid data that calls the data produced by the EIA, please let me know - it would make a good research paper.


#39

Third time: TRANSMISSION losses at 2% or less per thousand miles are not the same as the SYSTEM losses you’re talking about. SYSTEM losses happen anyway, and whether transmission is a long distance on HV lines or short distances on LV lines, the TRANSMISSION loss is often about the same. Technologies that exist now can reduce long-distance transmission losses to essentially zero. Other efforts, upgrades, and technologies will be required to reduce system losses as much as they can be, as far as I know not to zero. (1)

This ability to transmit efficiently is very important for creating a globally intertied grid (or 2 or 3—Eurasia, the Americas, Australia/Oceania) coordinating an optimum mix of clean safe renewable energy sources—powering Eurasia with North Sea wind (at >65% capacity factor), 24/7 solar thermal from Morocco, Saudi Arabia, etc.), combined solar and wind from deserts in Mongolia and China, offshore wind and geothermal from Japan, and local resources everywhere. The Nordic grid is an example of this already in operation on a smaller but indicative scale, and inspired by it, Costa Rica, Belize, and other countries in Central and South America and the Caribbean are doing the same.

My use of “we” referring to the US is almost always sardonic and actual at the same time. “We” invaded Iraq. I, and most of the people I know who are an actual we, marched against it. I’m opposed to the we I talk about, usually. Only in the future that I’m trying to create are the two wes the same.

While in principle I see lots of value in personal experience in developing countries, in practice everyone I talk to in internet discussions who brings it up is either stuck in a very narrow view because of it, or is at the far end of the spectrum from we–chemical industrial ag, e.g. The first is particularly interesting for someone talking now about metaheuristics.

Suggestions:

  1. Give up efforts to bribe the right with market religion solutions and nukes. It stems from a misdiagnosis and will never work.
  2. Educate the public in ongoing groups and ad hoc workshops while processing the emotions that come up, to allow people to get past emotional blocks (denial/dissociation, fear, anger, guilt, shame…) so they can see clearly and take action. The goal of the education is:
    A. to show people how dire the situation is and that the only solution is massive and immediate popular democratic government action, under the umbrella of a US WWII-like climate mobilization. (2)
    B. to enable and propel people to join both an ongoing support, action and further education group and a peaceful revolution to take power from the fossil fuel powered right wing. They’ll never give it up on their own. They’ll do everything they can to beat back any attempts to take power through electoral politics, as they’ve been doing effectively all along. They’ve shown in dozens of states their eagerness to use violence against us; we have to allow them to do it to bring people to our side. The more violent they are, and the more peaceful we are, the faster the revolution grows. So we have to take extremely provocative action that’s also peaceful—occupying and blockading corporate and government offices, lining streets and entrances used by corporate officers, lawyers, judges and justices, etc. Unprecedented mass arrests will help, too.
    C. The purposes of the mobilization are to coordinate the replacement of fossil fuels by efficiency, wiser lives, and clean safe renewable energy; reforest the world; transform chemical industrial agriculture and industry; and do a bunch of other stuff. This will have to be funded by higher taxes on the rich. Those can be passed by Congress and signed by the president. During the Eisenhower administration the tax rate on the uppermost class was 90%. The rich are causing the ecological, democratic, and psychological crises; we can’t afford to have rich people—people with more money and therefore power than others. The taxes we pass will have to be on income and wealth, and not just supply enough for RE but for all the ’war measures’ needed, too—universal health care, free education, universal basic income, etc. and for the maintenance of democracy.

(1) http://insideenergy.org/2015/11/06/lost-in-transmission-how-much-electricity-disappears-between-a-power-plant-and-your-plug/
(2) 10p Exec sum. https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/fe55ec_d8d534e3c856410b8519944537bdbef1.pdf
Emergency blueprint https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/fe55ec_79e69ca7863c4f0bacb598e21650b267.pdf
Leading into emergency mode http://theclimatepsychologist.com/leading-the-public-into-emergency-mode-a-new-strategy-for-the-climate-movement/


#40

Hi J4Zonian.

[
Thank you for your suggestions. It seems like we are suggesting similar actions, although I also encourage organizing communities to install sustainable stand-alone and micro grid in the developing world and sustainable energy coops in the US. In any case, it is clear that actions such as these, and much more, are needed.

Not exactly. If electricity is transmitted at a million volts or so, efficiency increases to, maybe 0.5 to 1%. However there is a limit due to the fact at that voltage, the air suffers dielectric breakdown and losses due to discharge begin to occur. Supercooled wire in nitrogen has been explored as a way to nudge up the efficiency a tenth of a percent or so, however that technology will not replace current transmission lines over the next 7 years.

With respect to transmission losses, I see that the 2% that you refer to is just the loss along the wire. You had said:

“With adequate infrastructure, transmitting a thousand miles means loss of about 2% or less”

It was not clear to me that the 2% you were referring to was wire transmission losses only. Unlike locally generated electricity, distributed electricity requires power conditioning and distribution components including all components of substations. As a result in the total losses are around 5 - 6%. Are you suggesting that there is a way to transmit electricity that escapes these larger combined losses?

Additionally, your arrogant response (i.e. the sarcastic use of “Third time” and spelling transmission in all caps) is offensive and unnecessary. Your response is effective at communicating your hostility but not effective at clarifying your point.

I am not suggesting that there should be zero grid distributed electricity, just that the focus (for reasons I mentioned previously) should be on local generation. You are free to disagree - that is fine. However, microgrids are capable of operating at significantly higher efficient than large scale distributed electrical systems (https://www.c2es.org/site/assets/uploads/2017/03/microgrid-momentum-building-efficient-resilient-power.pdf).


#41

”Additionally, your arrogant response (i.e. the sarcastic use of “Third time” and spelling transmission in all caps) is offensive and unnecessary. Your response is effective at communicating your hostility but not effective at clarifying your point.”
My point was perfectly clear the first 2 times so the only thing that needed to be communicated was my impatience. I’m sorry you misinterpreted that as hostility. As part of reading more carefully, you should watch the leaping-to-conclusions thing.

Study: Every grid but Texas does RE cheaper than current prices. And Texas could if they had a widely-enough distributed grid.
Distributed generation is necessary to incorporate enough solar and especially wind into the grid without massive overbuilding.

Microgrids are great where DGen isn’t possible—islands, remote rural areas… although even there the ideal will be to incorporate them into grids eventually. Microgrids are great as part of wider grids. But the much higher amount of VRE and storage needed to overcome lack of distributed generation will make the extraordinarily hard—in fact almost impossible job of renewablizing, reforestating and organicizing the whole world—much harder and more expensive. It will make people keep burning gas longer. It very likely means we can’t do it in time to avoid catastrophic sequences of tipping points and loss of control over our ability to implement solutions at all, as nature and society deteriorate.

https://emp.lbl.gov/publications/impacts-high-variable-renewable


#42

12 years???:joy::grin::joy::rofl::rofl::rofl::rofl::joy::grin::grin::grin::grin::grin::rofl::rofl::rofl::rofl::joy::joy::joy::joy:okay…they won’t let me show my little laughing friends.


#43

What a joke…12 years… Come on…I am getting sicker …and sicker… with this B.S…


#44

Mia Culpa! But just as the US was the Arsenal of Democracy in WWII,
the US Type 2 industries can provide all the goods needed by the distressed parts of the world. (That way the industries involved would be paying our Paris Accord share.)
Thus every nation could help Gaia by having no border charges{though border transport or gifts are welcome} on products paid for gy Gaians (a dollar-like value).
THREAT OF REVOLT:
EITHER THE ADMINISTRATION WILL DO IT OR THEY’LL BE REPLACED.