With a new government report projecting that America's carbon footprint is on pace to be slightly larger in 2050 than it is now—a prediction that partially takes into account President Donald Trump's attack on environmental regulations—green groups are arguing that only a rapid move away from fossil fuels and toward 100 percent renewable energy will be enough to avert climate catastrophe.
Since the US carbon footprint has been mainly trending down for the past decade I don’t understand why it would not continue to do so. The government must be making some assumptions that would keep the use of fossil fuels steady, even though there has been a tremendous increase recently in the growth of wind power and solar power and the number of operating coal-fired plants continues to decline. Perhaps the report assumes that millions of voters will never wake up to threat of climate change and continue to vote for politicians like Trump who inhabit an alternative reality universe.
Demands require the power to enforce them. To create and use power requires work and organization - not tweeting and whining about how bad stuff is. That’s a given.
The great Frederick Douglass proudly proclaimed that “Power yields nothing without a demand.” He assumed, of course, that those who make demands were willing able to organize, work and have the courage to use power on behalf of what we call the 99%. Today, he would be buried in an avalanche of white noise.
The Off Act is not a feasible piece of legislation. The continued support of unfeasible legislation is partially responsible for why we cant integrate a solution for energy transition into US policy.
Yeah, but no chance.
Don’t have any kids if you have a conscience. They will not appreciate the world you will be bringing them in.
It is not feasible because?
Natural gas production and use going up…release of methane 20-80X the GHG of CO2 depending on how it is calculated.
The government report (I looked through it though not it super detail) talks about CO2 emissions, but not methane.
California will be 80% below 1992 levels by 2050.
Hawaii will be 100% renewable by 2045
Iowa is 33% wind electricity now with more on the way.
there are 8 states above 40% renewable electricity now.
this is a trend of more electricity by renewable electricity. I see these trends continuing which reduces fossil fuels.
Typically all these number about the emissions going up and down of various countries only include carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels. They don’t include methane or nitrous oxide or any other greenhouse gases. However, I think the numbers are still very valuable because carbon dioxide accounts for about three-fourths of global warming. I believe the Paris agreement pledges are based on the carbon dioxide equivalent so all greenhouse gas are included in the pledges.
Of course electricity only accounts for a portion of carbon dioxide emissions in the US. Other major sources are transportation, heating, and industrial processes. In a state like California transportation accounts for by far the biggest portion so even if they got to 100% renewable electricity they would still have considerable carbon dioxide emissions.
Not having kids – or at least not having as many kids – would help decrease the carbon footprint significantly. Actually, it is UNCONSCIONABLE that a discussion of mankind’s Carbon Footprint totally ignores the Root Cause of Too Much Pollution: TOO MANY PEOPLE!!
If there were fewer people driving cars and fewer people taking showers and fewer people eating hogs and fewer people running heaters and air conditioners, we’d have less resource consumption and less pollution.
Get Oil Out!
In a state like California transportation accounts for by far the biggest portion so even if they got to 100% renewable electricity they would still have considerable carbon dioxide emissions.
Electrification of the rest is on their list also.
We’ve set off a positive greenhouse gas feedback loop, where the tundra burns in megafires and the methane and CO2 bubbles up by the teraton. “100%” fossil fuel displacement as the official goal is a mistaken and off-target name for our goal, because humanity can do more, fairly easily and quickly, and we need to do more.
Yes, part one of the climate project is near-100% displacement of fossil fuel mining.
–Specifically, we desperately need the home heating job that we give natural gas to be displaced by stored solar heat.
–We need the 100% reliability job that we give natural gas electricity generation to be displaced by multiple forms of renewable energy storage, Lithium batteries are problematic as home energy storage because we have limited world lithium production. Solar power towers are cheap except they kill birds, however, I forecast that the bird kill problem will be solved quickly (because I’m an inventor and I’ve already costed out the fix! Go! Like right now!! Argggh, I hate this particular climate movement, all talk no action.) Anyways, I have a couple of backup plans.
–We’re using natural gas to pump seawater through membranes to create somewhat drinkable water. I can get the same job done on a commercial scale with solar. Any takers?
Part two of the climate project is to stabilize our Arctic regions. We need fresh snow and ice, with a tip-top albedo that reflects polar sunlight back into space just like the Arctic used do do for the last 100 million years or so. If you bought the billionaires’ claims that all geoengineering has to be extremely violent to the local ecology, then you unfortunately were a sap. Unfortunately, these days it’s not the environmental sensitivity of the proposals that counts, it’s whether exactly one megacorporation can rake in all the money for the one stupid idea.
Also on the front burner (somehow I’m thinking of frogs in a pot on the front burner…), we need carbon sequestration by organic means or as a by-product of biofuel creation, also removal or neutralization of methane and nitrous oxide in Eaarth’s atmosphere, and more effective use of forests and tundras as carbon sinks and not carbon bombs waiting for a match. Finally, we need protection of a million species during the great extinction.
So, in general we need R&D money pronto, not for the megacorps who seem to have no idea how to use it (other than to embezzle it), not even for the upper middle class who seem to only want to study what everybody else does, but for actual good ideas, not stupid ideas. These days, getting the actual funding to the good ideas and not to the stupid ideas seems to be as hard as hiring an honest Baltimore cop. Still, we have to try or we might die trying.
Paul, You rock. Can we clone you?
Funding, helpers, maybe a local university? High school teacher getting students to do science fairc
projects? More press, more exposure, all your good ideas will bear fruit.
A curb on population growth and the complete abolishment of the fossil fuel industry are both needed. A herculean task to be sure but one that must be made if we are to see humanity live past this century.
There are quite a few problems with the bill. I actually listed a bunch of problems in the past, but apparently CD doesn’t like the length of my response, so Ill have to break it down into three comments.
Attached are my concerns regarding this piece of legislation:
This bill does not describe specific actions as they need to be for such a significant piece of legislation. Claims such as:
“We must invest in early-stage proof of concept technologies and basic scientific research at the Department of Energy’s Office of Science through the 17 U.S. National Laboratories will be needed to discover the scientific properties needed to produce proof of concept or prototype technologies.”(p.12) At no time is this part of the bill defining appropriate action that would need to take place for such a monumental change in US policy. The idea that all US laboratories would just transition to focusing on renewable development is insanity, as our national laboratories are specially focused for different purposes. Additionally, the DOE actually describes early concept renewable research all the time, yet this bill fails to describe even one specific project to provide context of what taxpayer money would be spent for. Its extremely concerning to me that none of the authors of the bill can identify a single advanced renewable project to under development at the National Laboratories. I can tell you more about renewable research than this bill plans to spend money for. That is ridiculous and gives me zero hope for the future of congressional decision making regarding innovation in advanced research. I mean seriously not even one mention of the SunShot Initiative?! The most successful cost deployment program for solar out of the DOE. Who on earth did the research for this bill, because they clearly spent zero effort actually figuring out what tax payer money should be spent on regarding scientific research.
“The environmental Law Institute found that from 2002 through 2008, Federal fossil-fuel subsidies in the United States totaled over $72,000,000,000, while Federal renewable-energy investments totaled 12,200,000,000.”
First of these figures aren’t even accurate. The report cited for finding these figures literally has a completely different amount for renewables. The ELI report literally puts total investments at: $28,943,000,000. Don’t believe me, look at the report for yourself. http://www.eli.org/sites/default/files/eli-pubs/d19_07.pdf
Secondly, why did Gabbard choose to use 10 year old study by the Environmental Law Institute, when the Energy Information Administration as part of the US Department of Energy has a much more recent study from 2013, 2010, and 2007? (The EIA’s report has significantly more analysis and looks at all energy sources).
Third, you may have noticed that the OFF Act cuts renewable subsidies by nearly 50%, but why is that? When you add up all subsidies and tax credits for ethanol and other biofuels under renewable federal investments and subtract them from $28,943,000,000 you end up getting the OFF Act’s $12,200,000,000. Therefore, one can conclude that the Off Act removed all subsidies for biofuel, which is very problematic if youre going to compare net subsidies.
Forth, comparing net subsidies is extremely misleading between renewables and fossil fuels. As discussed in the point directly above, the OFF Act removed federal investments for biofuels. If this was included the comparison would have somewhat of case to make that the comparison was fair, because both biofuel and petroleum are used for purposes other than electricity, which is nearly the sole purpose of all other types of renewable development (yes there is heating, but that makes up less than 2% of use for renewable development). This means that the Off Act is comparing all fossil fuel subsidies to just electrical generation subsidies for renewables. That is ridiculously fraudulent. Not only are you including subsidies for the production of transportation, heating and chemical manufacturing, but you are also including subsidies for concrete manufacturing with coal and comparing it to subsidies for electrical generation. You cannot/ should not compare subsidies of industries that produce complete different products. That’s like comparing the food industry to the banking industry.
3. “For this reason, Congress must incentivize the transition to clean energy transportation technology as it pertains to ground, air, rail, sea transportation and shipping in the most efficient, economically-friendly methods possible to ensure that jobs are protected and the cost of products remains affordable.”
Gabbard recognizes that transportation was the largest net CO2 emitted in 2016. However, to propose that congress must incentivize a transition to clean energy (described by the bill as: energy efficiency, energy conservation, demand response, energy storage, and energy derived from solar, onshore wind, offshore wind, geothermal and tidal sources) specifically for air and sea transportation illustrates a complete lack of understanding in the engineering of these means of transportation. Based on Gabbard’s definition of clean energy, Congress must incentivize a means to electrical planes and sea travel. Unfortunately, this demand is unfeasible based on current and projected technology of both commercial air travel and large scale cargo sea travel. The reason why we use jet fuel in aircrafts is due to high energy density per mol of material. Essentially, we desire the least amount of fuel to get aircraft into the air, because the more fuel you require the more weight is on the aircraft and the more energy is required to move the object. You may see small electric planes, but the fact is you would have to install so many batteries to store enough energy for flight that the plane would never be able to fly. This same issue of energy density also exists in shipping but the main concern is not operation, but rather economic feasibility. We can create electric cargo ships, but the combination of battery costs, propulsion required (keep in mind these ships are carrying on the magnitude of 50,000 to 500,000 tons), reduction in speed, charging time and port design would exponentially increase the costs for shipping and this project evaluation is not even remotely comparable to current means of shipping. I cannot fathom, where Gabbard got the idea that this was feasible within the next century much less the next 18 years…
4.“There are better alternatives and sustainable solutions in the form of regenerative agriculture practices”. Now I actually agree with this partially, except that there really isnt any evidence on the feasibility of transforming the entire agriculture industry into a new type of practice that limits the growth of a farm.
I j want to make a note on this section as it applies to subsidies. Regnerative agriculture practices may have their use in establishing healthier small scale environments, but regardless of size this industry including this practice still requires fertilizer production. Why I bring this up is because Gabbard is calling for the termination of all subsidies to fossil fuels. This includes subsidies for petrochemical development and processing. In the USA 99.99% of all hydrogen is made through steam reforming by primarily combining methane and naphtha, which are fossil fuels that will increase in price due to removal of subsidies. Steam reforming itself would also increase in pricing as it receives specific subsidies for development. Another process at some petrochemical facilities is fractional distillation, which produces nitrogen. Hydrogen + Nitrogen = Ammonia, which is the fundamental chemical in ALL fertilizer. If Gabbard’s objective is to reduce cost in the agriculture industry and incentivize new methods, it would be completely counterproductive to enact legislation that would increase the cost of manufacturing fertilizer that the agriculture industry relies on.
5.“ELECTRIFIED TRAIN MANDATE.— (1) ELECTRIFIED RAIL LINES.—The minimum percentage of electrified rail lines in the United States shall be— (A) in 2027, 80 percent; and (B) in 2035, and every year following, 100 7 percent.” I would love to meet the dumbass who suggested this was feasible.
Its no surprise that Gabbard did not describe how much funding she would provide this part of the bill, as the cost required would comprise a large percentage of the total US federal budget. Currently in the USA there are about 150,000 miles of railroad, and electric rail comprises only about 2,500 miles. This means we would have to electrify 147,500 miles of railroad. The cheapest modern light rail system constructed in the USA cost about $43 million per sq. mile, which would put net costs at $6.34 trillion or $352 billion per year. However, lets assume that we would attempt to reconfigure existing railways. I am not satisfied with the data I have collected on the potential cost in electrifying existing railways, but the cheapest average cost I have seen for 110 mph light rail is about $25 million (keep in mind that we would have electrify light rail and cargo rail, as well as take into consideration geographical conditions as electric rails require more energy to push cars up elevation especially under high stress loads, thus increasing the cost). If someone can find a better analysis than my sources I would greatly appreciate it. However, for the time being lets measure based on the $25 million figure from the Iowa State Feasibility study: $25 million x 147,500 miles = $3.68 trillion or $204 billion per year. To put this in the context of the OFF Act the required funding for this project is greater than the total funding of the entire act and significantly more than all fossil fuel subsidies combined. How does Gabbard really expect to pay for this?
I think the thing to keep in mind that to become law this bill would have to go through committee hearings and a similar bill would have to be considered by the Senate. So I think we should consider whether it can serve as good starting point for legislation to move away from fossil fuels. In the current populist political environment bills from progressives have to go for the whole ball of wax. It is the Bernie Sanders factor. Anything less would be considered being from sold out politicians. Whether or not it is realistic right now this is the type of bill that will get a lot of support from the left. As imperfect as it may be it is probably the only way we get a renewable energy bill off square one.