the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

Pielke Jr. – One blog post, Ten wrong turns

Posted by Jeff Id on April 25, 2010

Pielke Jr recently wrote this:

Can you imagine any discoveries or conclusions in climate science would indicate that accelerated decarbonization of the global economy does not make sense?

Answer: No

Now he is right that “climate science” AKA Scientology– today won’t conclude or present evidence otherwise, however he conveniently assumes the whole government funded exercise hasn’t been polluted by preferential funding.  Like so many individuals sheltered from the war that is small business, he advocates accelerating ‘decarbonization’ despite the fact that so many questions remain unanswered and despite the massive pressures already on global business.

In Pielke’s vast worldly experience, he can’t think of any reason not to accelerate the decarbonization of our society.  Well, it looks like it will fall on those of us who produce product for a living to help the good doctor think of  a few.

Ten reasons Pielke Jr and enviroclimatoscientology are wrong:

1 – The semi-industrial countries hold the greatest populations (China, India) Billions vs Millions US/UK. They will not, and are not expected to, stop increasing their own CO2 output during the same timeframe we are limiting  ours. Therefore unilateral limits have no chance of eliminating or even slightly reducing global annual output.

2 – Limitation of CO2 is a tax on energy followed by the necessary limitation of availability of every single product on Earth.   Humans are already pressured to their limits, and it has only been within the last 30 years that mass scale poverty and starvation’s have been so limited by technology.

3 – When prices rise, the poorest suffer first. How does creating immediate suffering balance a potential problem which may not exist?

4 – The IPCC has determined that CO2 remains resident in the atmosphere for thousands of years – I don’t believe this for a moment but nobody has proven otherwise.  Pielke must recognize that under this scenario, any solution requiring minimization of output has to recognize the effects of output can only be calculated by a long term integration of CO2 released and not a short term CO2/Year issue.  Therefore, he must explain how the taxation/limitation of CO2 emits less total CO2 before new technologies can be implemented.  This is completely ignored by those of an environmentalist economic limitation viewpoint.

5 – Nobody has conclusively demonstrated that CO2 has caused even ONE DOLLAR of financial or environmental difficulty.   I’m not saying it isn’t possible, but warming hasn’t been connected with even the smallest of troubles.  Claiming it should balance our future troubles requires the confirmed identification of even one problem.

6 – Redaction of bad law is incredibly difficult.  If we find that CO2 isn’t nearly as dangerous as expected down the road or the law doesn’t work as expected (which it won’t), policy adopted is politically nearly impossible to reverse.

7 – Taxation of any sort, empowers government and limits people and companies from being able to invest in real solutions.

8 – Recommending the government act to reduce CO2, fails to recognize that politicians that take the money have entirely different goals than those who believe government machinations can solve our energy issues – problems created entirely by government!  When was the last time you saw a law enacted that actually did what it was advertised to do?

9 – Gas/energy prices have already risen 50 percent in the last 8 months by current economic conditions. Taxation and limitation in addition to the increases caused by an artificially limited supply are entirely unnecessary, even under the best economic scenarios.  Failing to recognize the damage that environmental policy has already created and following through by adding more load, is the height of ignorance.

10 – _____This one is for you______

254 Responses to “Pielke Jr. – One blog post, Ten wrong turns”

  1. Derek said

    Assuming “sense?” in the question means what is best for (more) life on this planet..

    10 – If “accelerated decarbonization of the global economy” was actually succesful (it won’t be), and
    atmospheric CO2 concentrations actually fell as climate models project (nowt else has happened that they projected so I don’t see how this will either),
    then plants globally would grow less.
    Plant global productivity would fall because of lower atmospheric CO2 levels – biological fact.
    There would be less food for all life on this planet. This would lead to less life on the planet,
    it would not “save the planet”,
    less atmospheric CO2 would strangulate the planet.

    That’s a pretty big one, I would suggest.
    BUT, it will never happen, all the CO2 budgets are bunkum, but “they” can not admit that can they…
    It is a luverly catch 22 for the “consensus” though.
    Lower CO2, less plants. Less plants, less everything else.
    Conversely, more CO2, more life.
    (A bit of warming helps “life” as well….)

  2. Derek said

    Assuming “sense?” in the question means what is best for (more) life on this planet..

    10 – If “accelerated decarbonization of the global economy” was actually succesful (it won’t be), and
    then atmospheric CO2 concentrations actually fell as climate models project
    (nowt else has happened that they projected so I don’t see how this will either),
    then plants globally would grow less.
    Plant global productivity would fall because of lower atmospheric CO2 levels – biological fact.
    There would be less food for all life on this planet. This would lead to less life on the planet,
    it would not “save the planet”,
    less atmospheric CO2 would strangulate the planet.

    That’s a pretty big one, I would suggest.
    BUT, it will never happen, all the CO2 budgets are bunkum, but “they” can not admit that can they…
    It is a luverly catch 22 for the “consensus” though.
    Lower CO2, less plants. Less plants, less everything else.
    Conversely, more CO2, more life.
    (A bit of warming helps “life” as well….)

  3. Jeff Id said

    His concept is like — please give me all the bad stuff even if there isn’t a reason.

  4. Chuckles said

    Jeff,

    #4, ‘The IPCC has determined that CO2 remains resident in the atmosphere for thousands of years’

    I think you mean ‘decreed’ rather than ‘determined’ don’t you. No one has yet explained to me how this special anthropogenic CO2 hangs around so long when the natural stuff disappears in a couple of years. Just more of the shell game to cripple the USA.

  5. JRPfeff said

    #10 – Warmer is better at my latitude.

  6. SBVOR said

    I can do you one better.

    Dr. Pielke either cannot or will not explain why he believes that a policy response aimed at reducing CO2 emissions is advisable.

    On 7/31/09 I asked for an explanation. I was promised one would be forthcoming in an upcoming post.

    But, despite frequent reminders (as recently as 3/14/10), Dr. Pielke has not yet honored his promise.

    Click here for all the details and substantiations.

  7. Jeff- Thanks for engaging these ideas. But if we are to have a meaningful exchange, it will help if you understand that “decarbonization” is not the same thing as “limits on CO2″. You are thus off track starting with #1, as both China and India in fact have aggressive goals to accelerate decarbonization.

    SBVOR- You answer will be found here:

    http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2010/04/climate-fix.html

  8. Skip said

    I questioned him a bit about this, Jeff, in the comment thread, and it turns out that what you (and I think most of the rest of the world) mean by decarbonization is not what he means. To him, given the ratio of carbon emissions to total energy output, C/TE, if that ratio becomes smaller, that is decarbonization. Well, he says C/GDP, but it works out to the same thing. So increasing the energy supply without decreasing carbon emissions at all counts as ‘decarbonization’ to him.

    He’s got a fairly simple short paper describing it here. It comes from the following identity. Given:

    P=Population

    T=Total energy output

    G=GDP

    C=Carbon Emissions

    C=(P)(G/P)(T/G)(C/T)

    This is naively true, until you realize that the four aren’t independing variables. The former engineering major in me screams for a few differential equations sketching things out, but as it’s been 20 years since I took those classes I’m a bit rusty.

  9. JBinDC said

    Jeff, #2
    >>quote
    Humans are already pressured to their limits, and it has only been within the last 30 years that mass scale poverty and starvation’s have been so limited by technology.
    >>end quote

    May we have citations for this, please?

    Roger, the exchange might be furthered if one were to explain how decarbonization is different with respect to (at least some of) the points made. I’m having a hard time trying to come up with a good “why” instead of a “why not” with some data behind the analysis. Sure, sounds like a good idea, but energy from carbon costs X and energy from another source costs some factor of X plus the carbon cost of manufacturing the technology in the first place, plus whatever additional non-carbon costs are incurred, what is the net benefit? For example, the break-even non-subsidized cost of wind-based electricity, offset by the carbon “foot print” for producing, transporting and installing the technology subtracting the loss of real estate useful for some other purpose… results in?

  10. SBVOR said

    Roger,

    Nice try, but…

    As I have told you many times before, directing me to your book fails to honor your promise to “directly” address this matter in an upcoming post.

    That said — if you ever decide to honor your promise — feel free to quote your book in your post.

  11. mt said

    In Pielke’s post, he mentions “a need to diversify energy supply, reduce energy costs and expand energy access”. So the question is if accelerated decarbonization has these benefits. Accelerating decarbonization involves reducing or limiting use of a well known, heavily used energy source, so diversification is out. Current methods for accelerating carbon-based energy reductions involve either subsidizing other energy sources or raising the prices of carbon-based sources, so reducing energy costs is out. Expanding access seems to just be the union of the first two goals, I’m not sure if something else is meant here.
    It’s true that diversification will arise out of acceleration decarbonization, but it would happen regardless as fossil fuels become more scarce and harder to extract. And research into finding cheaper, safer, abundant energy sources would also happen over time. So accelerating these necessarily means imposing costs or limits.
    If there was no AGW, specifically catastrophic AGW, there would be no reason to accelerate energy research. Decarbonization probably wouldn’t even be a word.

  12. Jeff Id said

    Roger,

    If we are going to have a meaningful discussion, you will need to be more articulate of your points than that. We’re not idiots here, despite the moniker, and I find your opinion so naive it’s difficult to read even taking #7 into consideration.

    As an engineer, business owner, and a frequent visitor to China, your concept of decarbonization is false in the most extreme way I can imagine. I can’t even believe you would write it to be honest. China, creator of the brown sunset, is producing more CO2 every day, building coal power plants as fast as possible. More than any nation on Earth and if you’ve ever negotiated with a Chinaman, what they say is not what you get. Building one allegedly more efficient CO2 plant every week does not accelerate decarbonization no matter how you might imagine to justify that kind of language.

    Their cities have quadrupled in vehicles in the last 10 years — really 10 years, yet you write about targets. Massive auto factories have been built across the country as the ex communists discover capitalism. Currently their business is regulated like the wild West, everyone can make money and keep it, as long as they don’t report it. Capitalism is booming, consumption is ramping at an unheard of rate, even compared to the historic US, and the east side of China is a very difficult place to locate a non-capitalist. Smog and pollution are at world record levels, CO2 production is massive, environmental laws are ignored because they can’t enforce any of them, yet you hold this cesspool of humanity to be the guiding light for ‘decarbonization’.

    Wow, it’s a Tiljander moment. Is all of climatology confused about the fact that massive increases are not decreases?

    But you didn’t just say decarbonizatoin – which has meaning despite what #7 says your rationale was before. You wrote ‘accelerated decarbonization’ which means government intervention to eliminate the release of carbon.

    Since there is not one single government intervention (incentive or tax) that doesn’t simply add cost, you have to explain how that intervention is useful in the development of new technology, how the added cost to everything helps the human race.

    I await your enlightened and detailed reply on the edge of my seat.

  13. steven mosher said

    Jeff:

    ” what they say is not what you get.”

    u and I get this.

  14. Skip said

    Just one quick point Jeff. Pielke Jr. of last year agreed with you on China, as seen here. Well, sort of, anyways. He saw it as a positive that China would join the rest of the world in lying about planning to cut emissions.

  15. SBVOR said

    Jeff,

    You correctly note that Cap & Trade is nothing but an enormously regressive tax on everything. For so-called “Progressives”, crushing levels of taxation (to support a massive expansion of government) is the real agenda. The environment is merely the (bogus) excuse.

    Couple Cap & Trade with a Value Added Tax and the promise not to increase taxes on the middle class (and below) is proven to be the bald faced lie all thinking people always knew it was.

    Factor in hyperinflation likely to result from unprecedented monetization of unprecedented deficit spending and the middle class and below are in for some very rough times ahead.

    My advice — stock up on durable goods now (and hope that utter anarchy does not ensue).

  16. SBVOR said

    Jeff,

    ==> Sorry! I botched a link my previous comment! Please delete it. The following is the corrected comment. <==

    You correctly note that Cap & Trade is nothing but an enormously regressive tax on everything. For so-called “Progressives”, crushing levels of taxation (to support a massive expansion of government) is the real agenda. The environment is merely the (bogus) excuse.

    Couple Cap & Trade with a Value Added Tax and the promise not to increase taxes on the middle class (and below) is proven to be the bald faced lie all thinking people always knew it was.

    Factor in hyperinflation likely to result from unprecedented monetization of unprecedented deficit spending and the middle class and below are in for some very rough times ahead.

    My advice — stock up on durable goods now (and hope that utter anarchy does not ensue).

  17. Tom Fuller said

    If I can jump in in support of Roger, you are a) thinking in the warmists’ imposed timeframes and b) using many of their frames of reference. This is actually a straightforward argument about improving productivity and diversifying sources of supply. When Dell and Walmart did the exact same thing, shareholders were well pleased by the results.

    France gets most of their electricity from nuclear power. Their higher degree of energy independence allowed them to remain relatively unaffected when Russia tried to hold gas supplies hostage, and to plan (and boy do they love planning) their energy budget to meet their economy’s needs. Which allowed them to have the ‘best’ recession of the industrialized world.

    All things being equal, there are many reasons why making energy use more productive is good for us. One of those things is getting the most value out of the CO2 we actually do emit. There are many ways to measure that level of efficiency. In discussions about climate change, it is not absurd to use tons of emissions per unit of work performed. If we were a bunch of accountants, we would use other terms, but we would still be very interested in the productivity of a major input to our economic activity.

    China’s productivity in this area is currently very low, and they have a competing goal of trying to keep their population from killing its leaders by raising their standard of living quickly enough to save their Communist butts (I could spend several paragraphs making that sound better, but that’s really what’s going on). So they are tossing up coal plants to help this process along.

    But they are not stupid. At the same time, they invested twice as much money as we Yanks did on renewable energy, and they put up more windmills than we did. We are now buying more solar power from China than we are building ourselves. They understand perfectly well the negative externalities of high pollution energy in terms of pollution, healthcare, etc. These guys think long term. They will replace coal with clean energy they are developing to sell to us as exports. The life cycle of the coal plants they’re putting up now is 30 years. When these plants wear out, China’s population will have maxed out and will actually be starting to decline. They will be much richer and well placed to phase out coal with their renewables. These guys have run the numbers.

    The industrial world’s use of energy has peaked. Improving efficiency is a natural follow-on activity to that. Again, because we’re talking about climate change it is perfectly natural to point out the advantages of reducing the level of carbon emissions per unit of work performed. China will do exactly the same thing (for different reasons) the minute they can, and they’re preparing for that minute now.

  18. Carrick said

    Roger Pielke:

    Jeff- Thanks for engaging these ideas. But if we are to have a meaningful exchange, it will help if you understand that “decarbonization” is not the same thing as “limits on CO2″. You are thus off track starting with #1, as both China and India in fact have aggressive goals to accelerate decarbonization.

    Work this out for us, anybody:

    Fossil fuel consumption (or equivalently CO2 emissions) is directly related to the amount of economic activity, because it is directly linked to energy usage. For developing countries, not only is availability to energy a requirement for economic development, availability to cheap energy is needed.

    What possible “aggressive decarbonization policy” is going to fix this, except keeping their countries economically underdeveloped???

    I assume bombing regions of the world back to the stone ages isn’t an option.

    So what’s the fix that assumes a world economy with a 400 trillion annual GDP (2010 dollars) and a 9 billion global population?

  19. GregO said

    10. To remain credible with shop and factory owners like me, those who would suggest/demand decarbonization need (in the same breath) to recommend/advocate nuclear power. No other energy option is ready to go that can replace coal/gas/oil. So, you don’t like carbon? Replace it with nuclear waste.

    Wind power is a gimmick; solar isn’t ready (maybe never will be…). I ask the question: what happens when you flip the light switch on and nothing happens? I had a shop in California during the Enron energy brownouts and in the middle of production we were shut down a couple of times and I found it amazing that a purely political/economic failure was allowed such an impact on electrical power distribution. I certainly hope the AGW zealots never get the chance to wreck havoc with power generation like it appears they would like to do.

    The point is this:

  20. Jeff Id said

    Tom,

    The Chinese haven’t “run the numbers” any more than any other country, coal isn’t ‘helping the process’ coal IS the process. The renewable energy investment is to take advantage of our own suicide and it’s not fun to hear them talk about it.

    I don’t have a clue where the US is importing solar energy from China though, enlighten me.

  21. ThomasL said

    Dr. Pielke definition of ‘decarbonization’ would tend to imply a more efficient means of producing energy.

    I don’t know how he expects that to be ‘accelerated.’ If anyone could produce energy more efficiently than we do, they would unless actively prevented by government (think nuclear power). World-wide competition would drive them to it, even if any given company were hesitant to do so.

    (For these purposes I am treating efficiency as the price per kW/h, plus any associated environmental costs. IE, something that produced electricity at a slightly lower dollar price per kW/h, but incurred significantly higher costs in environmental cleanup or impact would be less efficient, since the total cost paid by society would be higher, not lower.)

    If, instead, he means producing energy with the same efficiency, but lower CO2 output, that would mean some sort of CO2 capturing, etc.

    That means incurring additional costs without any production related benefits. Lower CO2 may be a benefit, but if it isn’t, the costs remain and are simply year upon year of wasted resources.

    Supposing that ‘decarbonization’ is a worthy goal implicitly presupposes some ability accurately to count the societal costs of CO2. His assertions tend to place the costs so high that nothing is worth weighing against them. I don’t think they are nearly so high, but even if I did, I wouldn’t appoint climate scientists to make all the necessary value judgments for me, not least of all because these are judgements which they are not qualified to make. Why should a climate scientist decide for me whether +-0.01C/decade was, or was not, worth it to me to keep my house at 72F, run my computer, or drive to visit my sister. How does he know what those are worth to me? Put more succinctly, “Who — whom?”

    Dr. Pielke may be a good climate scientist, but he is a poor economist. He has not got at all past “the seen vs. the unseen.” He sees lower CO2; ceteris paribus that is good, so he simply concludes it is good.

    He doesn’t see the clothes that the clothing company doesn’t make, the cars that no one builds, the food that doesn’t get grown, the vacations no one takes, etc., etc. They are unseen precisely because they never happen. They would have happened, but the money people would have spent on them has already been spent on the additional costs associated with the CO2 capturing/mitigation.

    He could make an argument that ‘decarbonization’ was more important than an Alaskan cruise, a new suit, or flying to see your family at Christmas. He could even be right–but it would require acknowledgment of the costs and a reasonable level of accuracy in counting them. Only once you’ve done that can you begin to weigh the cost against benefit. He calculations show all benefit with no cost, which is an obvious impossibility in economics, though apparently not in climate.

  22. SBVOR said

    Mr. Fuller (April 25, 2010 at 1:01 pm),

    1) If you want a feasible and useful diversification of energy sources, leave it to the private market. If you want another ethanol debacle, leave it to utterly corrupt bureaucratic lunacy ignorantly imposed through force of law.

    2) France was forced into nuclear power through an almost total absence of any hydrocarbon resources.

    3) Nuclear power, left to the devices of the private market, is fine. Artificially imposing nuclear power through force of law and crony capitalism is NOT ACCEPTABLE!

    4) As for hydrocarbon hostage taking, our own politicians (on the Left) are the only ones holding us hostage — by denying us access to what is, by FAR, the largest hydrocarbon resources on the entire planet!

    In short, government is NOT the solution, government is — as always — the PROBLEM!

  23. GregO said

    (oops! let me finish…)

    Any improvement plan (or even a “save the world” plan) based on “decarbonization” to be responsible and credible has to inform the larger discussion on national energy policy first. Apparently we as an electorate don’t like oil/coal/gas as we are not making a fraction of the effort we could to extract/process/refine in the US. We import carbon-based energy sources. OK – let’s assume it’s a great idea to get rid of all that filthy stuff. Now what? Answer: nuclear, yes nuclear at least for right now and the foreseeable future.

  24. ThomasL said

    “If, instead, he means producing energy with the same efficiency, but lower CO2 output, that would mean some sort of CO2 capturing, etc.”

    The should have read, “… the same conversion efficiency.” I wasn’t talking about total efficiency at that moment, just the efficiency of turning some given fuel into energy.

  25. SBVOR said

    Jeff,

    My previous comment was thrown into moderation (perhaps owing to the number of links).

    Rest assured, each link is relevant to the discussion and merely substantiates the points made in the comment.

    I just wanted to alert you to the entry in your awaiting moderation queue.

    Thanks,
    SBVOR

  26. Tim said

    There are two ways to read Roger’s statment:

    1) A call to increase productivity by finding ways to produce more wealth with less energy.
    2) A justification for carbon regulation and all that entails.

    Is suspect Roger believes he is advocating 1) but by choosing to focus on ‘carbon’ rather than ‘productivity’ Roger plays directly into the hands of the anti-carbon mafia.

    In some ways Roger’s plan is a lot like a adjustable rate mortgage – superficially attractive but lots of nasty stuff in the fine print.

  27. John F. Pittman said

    10. The cap&trade or tax do not take into account incremental costs, nor savings, by a small re-investments in existing (CO2 producing) technology. Example, you don’t buy a new energy effecient car becuase you need new windshield wipers. But this is what part of the regulations have in them. You can see the fallacy where Britian closed a steel mill, such that a perhaps slightly better version opened in India. This was a huge economic cost that is kept “off the books” since it is absorbed by the stockholders and the employees of the firm and those effected by the economic loss (think the local grocer).

  28. Andrew_KY said

    JeffId,

    “Can you imagine…”

    “No.”

    Talk about closed-minded devotion to an idea (“decarbona-something). Perhaps Jr. didn’t understand the question. I’ll try to help explain: See, in the imagination, anything is possible. To say it’s not, is to disclose that you’ve shut off your brain. :wink:

    Andrew

  29. Kenneth Fritsch said

    Nothing wrong with a personal wish list, but it says nothing about what is critical: How does one attempt to achieve the goals.

    I would think that to discuss the issues of percent carbon based energy consumption versus total energy consumption would require stating the current trend of that ratio. I suspect that the ratio is decreasing and probably primarily due to better efficiencies of use. I would suppose that it is more admirable to admit that increased energy consumption is required to increase the world standard of living, but at the same time favor using less of that bad old fossil fuel. I know for sure that there is no magic ratio for the optimum use of the various sources of energy. The market place will give us a reading on that and government intervention will greatly blur that reading.

  30. TinyCo2 said

    10) Waste money, public enthusiasm, raw materials and energy on useless trash today (eg windmills), you won’t have it to spend on something better tomorrow. Apart from nuclear and hydro there doesn’t seem to be a viable carbon free energy solution yet and both of those have issues that many may not want to face up to (esp enviro groups).

    First you have to have a debate about what people will accept before you start remodelling society. No country has actually been honest with it’s public so any attempts to seriously cut carbon are doomed to failure.

  31. Carrick said

    ThomasL:

    Dr. Pielke definition of ‘decarbonization’ would tend to imply a more efficient means of producing energy.

    That is certainly something I can get behind.

    While I agree with Jeff ID and the others on this blog on a lot of issues, I don’t agree with their assessment of the development of alternative carbon-neutral technologies.

    What you guys list as reasons for why these alternatives won’t work is a incoherent jumble of arguments. These range from arguments that boil down to the power grid needs upgrading, to specious arguments about government subsidies (the government subsidizes cheap fossil-fuel based electricity too), to wind power is “unsightly” (those coal power plants are things of beauty) to who knows what else.

    Fundamentally, solar energy, water and wind power do work as alternatives to fossil fuels. This isn’t a “science fiction” it’s a fact. They are used currently in places in the world where grid power isn’t available and in places were grid power is already expensive or unreliable.

    If they aren’t being currently used it is only become the economic costs of these alternatives (currently) outweighs the perceived costs of fossil fuels. (I use “perceived” because there are real costs to buying oil from tyrants who then fund terrorism which precipitates trillions of dollars in economic damage through the conflicts that ensue. And because of the heavy government subsidization that ironically dwarf government investment in alternative energy sources.

    A place to start.

  32. Jeff Id said

    #31,Carrick, I don’t agree with the wind power simply due to storage and the problems it causes, however Solar and water do have a future – however, implementation today is a very bad idea and replacement of current coal producition by these technologies would do nothing.

  33. WillR said

    Alternative Energy is being pushed heavily in Ontario Canada. There is a link here that will take you to a simple report in PDF form. The bottom line is that the Wind Power portion of the grid does not produce when required, and fossil fuel stations must be provided to produce on demand.

    http://windconcernsontario.wordpress.com/2010/03/22/watts-up-with-the-wind-in-ontario-2010/

    So far there has been no dispute of the numbers and it is available to all of the power generation organizations and government ministries.

    There is a lot more here with a focus on health issues. But as far as I am concerned nobody has come up with a viable energy source other than hydro, nuclear and fossil fuel.

    http://windconcernsontario.wordpress.com/

    Perhaps there are some workable suggestions available that I have not yet seen. Are we missing something here?

  34. Jeff Id said

    I’d rather this thread address the comments by Pielke than alternative energy.

  35. Carrick said

    Jeff Id, I’d be interesting in exploring the problems you see in wind power. Could you pick a few of your “best” reasons for why you think it isn’t a practical alternative?

    Also, you may want to address the issue that part of the difficulty in replacing fossil fuels is due to heavy government subsidies in the fossil fuel industry. Don’t you think it’s a bit ironic to be advocating “cheap fossil fuel” energy, when part of why that energy is “cheap” is only because it is getting subsidized?

    I think a lot of objections that people raise, when they are placed in a pedestal, often relate to unrelated issues to the thing they are actually objecting about. (Wind power and the need for upgrading our obsolete and unreliable electrical energy grid in order to fully utilize it is one example of this.)

  36. Carrick said

    Jeff ID:

    I’d rather this thread address the comments by Pielke than alternative energy.

    They are the same thing.

  37. Jeff Id said

    #36, to me there are substantial differences. The point Peilke makes is govenrment intervention to reduce CO2 output as a ‘helpful’ solution, his post makes no claim that energy should be produced by XXX. This is different from ‘what is your favorite alternative’ or why they do or don’t work.

    I’ve suggested before that you should write a post, perhaps this is the time/issue.

  38. Carrick said

    The only practical method for “accelerated decarbonization” would occur by replacing fossil fuels with alternative fuels.

    And one way to accelerate that is to stop subsidizing fossil fuels.

  39. SBVOR said

    Carrick April 25, 2010 at 2:24 pm,

    Mark my words, it won’t be long before even The People’s Weekly (aka Time magazine) admits that Wind Power was just as big of a debacle as even they now admit ethanol was.

    And, yes, I would strongly prefer that our government stop ALL of their idiotic, counterproductive efforts at social engineering through tax policy (and all other policies). Did anybody learn ANYTHING from the fiasco of Federal housing policies?

    Again, as I previously substantiated, government is NOT the solution, government is — as always — the PROBLEM!

    REPLY: I get no control over the spam moderation other than on/off.. Trust me, we all want it on. hehe.

  40. SBVOR said

    Jeff,

    Another comment is awaiting moderation. Just so I know, how many links are required to trigger moderation?

    Thanks,
    SBVOR

  41. Tim said

    Carrick,

    I agree that there are many incoherent arguments against renewables. However, that does not alter the fact that renewables are not viable replacements for fossil fuels.

    To address your specific points:

    1) The power grid needs upgrading

    Almost all electricity is produced close to where it is consumed because transport of electricity over long distances is expensive. We do have some long transmission lies but these are used largely to supplement local production and to reduce the risk of supply problems. Changing the network to one where the majority of power is generated far from the point of consumption is a lot more than a matter of an upgrade.

    2) government subsidizes cheap fossil-fuel based electricity

    The subsidies for fossil fuel per BTU are tiny compared to renewables. Also the renewable rent seekers play tricks with the numbers by counting tax subsidies for fossil fuel exploration without subtracting the royalities paid when the fossil fuels are extracted and sold. They sometimes try to count US military costs as a ‘fossil fuel’ subsidy while ignoring the fact that renewables depend on rare resources which can only be found in unfriendly countries.

    3) solar energy, water and wind power do work as alternatives to fossil fuels

    They work on the margins but they do not scale to the size required and are not reliable. It is practically impossible to provide more than 10% of the electricity in a region with renewables other than hydro. This is not likely to change any time soon.

    4) The economic costs of these alternatives (currently) outweighs the perceived costs of fossil fuels

    Renewables seek to exploit a diffuse energy source which means they require a large physical infrastructure consisting of steel, concrete, copper and various hi-tech goodies. The physical size of the infrastructure is what makes renewables expensive and that means their capital costs will likely rise as fossil fuels rise.

    5) There are real costs to buying oil from tyrants who then fund terrorism

    There are much bigger costs associated with renewables which require variety of rare earths. For example, a large chunk of the world’s supply of lithium for batteries is in Bolivia which currently has a leader which makes Hugo Chavez look like a moderate. China controls 90% of the supplies of many others and has prohibitted their export. They are taking the position that these metals should be reserved for their manufacturers.

    Renewables might be the answer in the future if there are some technological breakthroughs. But the technology available today is cannot compete with fossil fuels.

  42. Carrick said

    I guess it would be helpful if Roger were to provide a list of explicit proposals for “accelerated decarbonization”.

    I agree with you that carbon tax is dumb (especially in a world where you are simultaneously subsidizing the carbon industry). And to the degree that people adopt other alternative fuels, it will happen because of the reduced availability and decreased reliability in access of the fossil fuels.

  43. Carrick said

    SBVOR:

    Mark my words, it won’t be long before even The People’s Weekly (aka Time magazine) admits that Wind Power was just as big of a debacle as even they now admit ethanol was.

    I think you are way overstating the “debacle” that is ethanol fuel, and you have not provided a coherent explanation for why you think wind power is bad. On this thread that is. I’m asking for a coherent explanation, not a long essay on the subject.

    In a few words, what is the biggest reason why wind power won’t work, in your opinion? (Keep in mind an argument is only as strong as its weakest link, I’m asking you for your best reason, if that can’t hold water, then neither can any of the rest.)

  44. I find Dr Pielke Jr’s discussion a bit obtuse. Why is there no libertarian capitalist formulation of ‘climate change mitigation’ strategies?

    Because there can be none!

    The zealots usually steer around this roadblock by implying that the changed reality of a warming globe renders ideas like capitalism and libertarianism ‘outmoded’. What ideas are supposedly the political tools for this new world? Apparently they are the communist-sounding ideas of personal sacrifice, personal carbon allowances and global carbon caps. What a surprise.

    Development of ‘alternative’ energy can proceed without the miasmic shroud of global warming hanging around it. Why wouldn’t the general public not love to zip around Jetsons-style? Why does it need the lie of anthropogenic global warming to prop it up?

  45. Tim said

    #43 – Carrick

    1) Wind power is unreliable. This means it needs a backup. In some locations wind power can be paired with hydro which makes it reasonable economic. In most cases the backup will be gas or coal. Some studies have shown that adding wind power to a grid increase fossil fuel consumption because a natural gas plant that is constantly changing output to match the wind supply is less efficient than one that runs at a constant output.

    2) Wind power requires a large grid. This requires a lot of steel and copper. This increases costs and when you look at the amount of steel and copper required to replace our existing coal based capacity you quickly realize that the supply of these materials will be a problem if the entire world tries to do the same.

  46. Carrick said

    Tim:

    Almost all electricity is produced close to where it is consumed because transport of electricity over long distances is expensive

    I’d like a reference if you have one on this, please, and actual numbers. I’m pretty sure for many sections of the country that power (like water, think LA) is generated far from the place where it actually is consumed. I’m obviously willing to be wrong, if you’re willing to demonstrate this.

    It is my understanding that long distance power transmission in this country is essential for the function of the grid (hence the loss of a power station in Ohio wouldn’t have caused a black out in NYC).

    Changing the network to one where the majority of power is generated far from the point of consumption is a lot more than a matter of an upgrade

    Well that is a point of agreement. The question is what are the costs of providing that additional infrastructure needed to transmit and store the extra power, and how do they compare with costs of oil exploration, oil extraction and indirect economic costs in things like the destabilizing effects of fossil fuels being sold by despotic governments.

    The subsidies for fossil fuel per BTU are tiny compared to renewables

    I’ve already provided a link establishing this is not true.

    They work on the margins but they do not scale to the size required and are not reliable

    They do lend themselves to an economic model based on distributed generation, rather than the centralized ones of fossil fuels. The main issue that needs address is grid and storage. And we haven’t come close to hitting all of the ways one can store energy yet (even ethanol fuel can be regarded as this).

    There are much bigger costs associated with renewables which require variety of rare earths

    I call bull shit.

  47. Jeff Id said

    Ok guys, alternative energy is nice, but this dude (who has the opportunity to brag about testifying in congress) just told you that ‘accelerated decarbonization’ is the answer. This thread is your opportunity to explain to the Illuminati that perhaps they have misjudged reality — yet again.

  48. Tom Fuller said

    Let’s talk a bit about decarbonization. The trend for efficiency gain through innovation for the past 200 years has been about 1% per year in this country. Frequently we have applied this efficiency gain to increased loads–bigger cars, houses, air conditioning. If instead we applied these gains to decreasing energy consumption, it would not take long for the gains to be dramatically noticeable, in price, emissions, imports and pollution.

    That this needs to be pointed out as a public good is a bit surprising, except in the context of partisan American politics. That public policy could explicitly endorse the enterprise is not even a partisan issue–presidents and presidential candidates from several American political parties, including the Republicans and Democrats, have done so in the past.

    The fact that we will need to make some investment (including in R&D) to achieve these gains has not stopped us from similar ambitious ventures in the past, or even in the present–witness progress in biotech, nanotech, genetics and robotics.

    At the end of the day someone will have to explain to me why an industrial policy with strong governmental support that has worked dramatically in so many different industrial sectors would all of a sudden stop working for renewable energy. Freeways. Space. Internet. Genome. Computers. Our modern and post-modern world was constructed using the same policy building blocks that we’re talking about using here. They worked. We might not always like the results, but they worked.

  49. SBVOR said

    Carrick April 25, 2010 at 2:24 pm,

    Digging deeper into your allegation of government subsidies to fossil fuels reveals the expected misrepresentation of the facts.

    Following the links, your alleged subsidies to the fossil fuel industry are revealed to include

    1) The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program – a Marxist wealth redistribution scheme.

    2) Strategic Petroleum Reserve – a National Security issue.

    3) Black Lung Disability Trust Fund – another Marxist wealth redistribution scheme.

    4) Highway Trust Fund – a Marxist scheme to perpetuate government control over a massive sector of the economy which — using tolltag technology — could have and should have been privatized decades ago.

    5) Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve – more unnecessary and counterproductive government meddling in the private sector under the false guise of protecting the consumer.

    These are what your so-called “Progressive” environmental activist organization falsely characterized as “Grants and Other Direct Payments” to the fossil fuel industry. The remaining allegations of various subsidies are equally dishonest. Any comparison of these false assertions to the VERY DIRECT and VERY CORRUPT subsidies to so-called “alternative energy” cronies is — at best — laughable.

  50. Tom Fuller said

    And if I’m part of the Illuminated, it’s just because I have a candle in the window.

  51. Carrick said

    Tim:

    Wind power is unreliable

    Which ties back to the question of what are the economic costs of the grid improvements needed and how do those costs compare to the costs of exploration/development/extraction of fossil fuels?

    If you are going to raise a question as an economic one, it has be be paired with the alternatives as a choice that gets made from alternatives, not from a statement in isolation.

    Some studies have shown that adding wind power to a grid increase fossil fuel consumption because a natural gas plant that is constantly changing output to match the wind supply is less efficient than one that runs at a constant output.

    Do you have a link or reference to these studies?

  52. Carrick said

    SBVOR, if you are going to make claims about where the subsidies are, perhaps you can give us a breakdown in percentages.

    You are claiming these are where the majority of the costs are, it seems to me the onus is on you to demonstrate this.

  53. HotRod said

    Well, I read RP Jr’s blog back on the 21st, and was baffled, and thought I must be missing something, as he took GLOBAL decarbonisation, however defined, to be an absolute good, regardless of any climate impact, which is a tricky claim. If a poor country builds a very inefficient coal plant which makes some peoples’ lives better, what’s the equation, even if C/GDP is worsened it could be ‘a good thing’?

    It seemed a strange statement, which was softened later in his piece, as in even if ‘all of climate science is a hoax or a fraud (it is not), would that mean that we would no longer need to discuss a need to diversify energy supply, reduce energy costs and expand energy access?’, which is a reasonable question, but quite a different one. That’s a question governments have to grapple with, as the UK government is now with respect to our imminent electricity shortfall – coal, nuclear, or gas? (ok, or some wind).

  54. Josualdo said

    On atmospheric CO2 residence, I didn’t read all comments yet, but this and this pdf can be pointers. I didn’t go through them myself, though.

  55. Skip said

    Jeff, the thing is, he doesn’t mean reducing carbon emissions by ‘decarbonization’. He means getting more energy, and thus GDP, out of the economy without proportionally releasing more carbon emissions. So if carbon emissions go up by 5%, but GDP goes up by 6%, that would count as decarbonization under his definition. So you’re really speaking at cross purposes here. You’re not talking about the same things.

    Now, I can’t actually say how he’s proposing to achieve these things – I suspect it’s going to be an energy tax to fund R&D, but I don’t know, as I haven’t read his book. I don’t think it’s actually out yet.

  56. Carrick said

    Jeff ID, I guess we can all agree that most of the “accelerated decarbonization” schemes that have been proposed are not economically or socially viable? And the only one that has a chance of working (but even I admit needs better studies) is alternatives to fossil fuels?

    It would have been a very short thread if we had stayed with that. LOL. Blogs abhor a comment vacuum.

  57. Jeff Id said

    #55 If that is his point, he needs to say that, admit that his wording was incorrect and clarify his point. We don’t get to redefine what the definition of “is” is.

  58. SBVOR said

    Carrick April 25, 2010 at 2:54 pm,

    By refusing to follow the substantiating links, you have proven yourself to be an utterly dishonest broker. This is the one and only time I will spoon feed you. Try this disingenuous stunt again, and you will be utterly ignored.

    So, you think I am “overstating the ‘debacle’ that is ethanol fuel”?

    You probably only believe what your preferred “Progressive” sources tell you.

    Fine, here is a direct quote from The People’s Weekly (aka Time Magazine):

    “several new studies show the biofuel boom is doing exactly the opposite of what its proponents intended: it’s dramatically accelerating global warming, imperiling the planet in the name of saving it. Corn ethanol, always environmentally suspect, turns out to be environmentally disastrous. Even cellulosic ethanol made from switchgrass, which has been promoted by eco-activists and eco-investors as well as by President Bush as the fuel of the future, looks less green than oil-derived gasoline.”

    Did your “Progressive” pals at Time magazine also overstate the case?

  59. TinyCo2 said

    As a concept, accelerated decarbonisation is not a bad idea. Until you follow it up with ‘how we gonna do that’? That’s why the subject drifts into alternative energy solutions.

    Efficiency is also a good thing but it never keeps up with increased consumption.

    Genocide would be the most effective form of accelerated decarbonisation but it’s got obvious drawbacks :-/

  60. Jeff Id said

    #58, If Carrick were a dishonest broker, I wouldn’t have invited him to guest post. Like Tom Fuller and myself, we have disagreements but they are honest ones. You have grabbed onto a large fish in this case and I hope we can carry that discussion to a different thread if Carrick will write it.

  61. SBVOR said

    Carrick April 25, 2010 at 2:54 pm asks:

    “what is the biggest reason why wind power won’t work”

    Honest brokers can click here for a myriad of answers.

    In time, wind power MAY prove to be a VERY SMALL PART of the solution — but ONLY after our government STOPS propping up the current failure.

  62. Carrick said

    SBVOR:

    Honest brokers can click here for a myriad of answers.

    I call that the “laundry list” argument. Also known as ” URL spamming”

    I asked you if you could provide a coherent argument. If you can’t, just say so,.

    As to questioning the motives of the people you disagree with as a tactic of debate, that’s just juvenile on your part.

  63. Carrick said

    SBVOR:

    So, you think I am “overstating the ‘debacle’ that is ethanol fuel”?

    You probably only believe what your preferred “Progressive” sources tell you.

    I love how people assume if you disagree with them about something it must because a “progressive” source is telling them to. (Substitute “faux news” when debating with a liberal.)

    LOL

  64. Carrick said

    SBVOR, for the record, Time Magazine’s main contribution to humanity is as lining for cat litter boxes. As that, it has much less use that USA Today or the NYT (I find them to be more absorbent).

    What is with people who malign a news source, while simultaneously using it as a source, when the news source happens to agree with their previously held beliefs?

    If Time Magazine is garbage, it’s garbage.

  65. SBVOR said

    Carrick April 25, 2010 at 2:54 pm asks about wind power subsidies…

    Quoting this source:

    “the [Obama] stimulus package would create an alternative way to fund [wind power] projects: Companies could instead get a grant directly from the government for 30 percent the project’s cost.”

    Okay Carrick, your turn — show me ANY example where government funded 30 percent of ANY hydrocarbon project — EVER!

    P.S.) Jeff (April 25, 2010 at 3:32 pm): We will have to respectfully agree to (strongly) disagree on the honest broker issue.

  66. Jeff Id said

    Please take this to the open thread gentlemen, I’m going to ask Steve about his app for moving comments. This is about Pielke and his blog.

    http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2010/01/12/open-thread-1/

    I don’t want to waste my time writing if the purpose of my writing is ignored. You wouldn’t like my hourly rate.

  67. Carrick said

    Jeff ID:

    You have grabbed onto a large fish in this case and I hope we can carry that discussion to a different thread if Carrick will write it

    I would love to produce something, unfortunately I’m in the middle of some very intensive system development for this summer’s research deployments.

    There is a myriad of topics that have been hit on in this thread. Part of the trouble is that many of these debates (e.g. ethanol) just serve as proxies for other political arguments. I think that is what enflames the passions of some people on this (wind farms deal with questions like energy transport, atmospheric boundary layer physics, etc… these are interesting questions, but I have a hard time believing anybody would get that passionate over these issues!)

    Like with AGW… there is the scientific debate over the validity of it, but a lot of people can’t get past Al Gore and the US DNC’s positions on it.

    Tom Fuller brings up the question of what is the role of government in guiding scientific and economic activity. Again that one I think there is so much fundamental disagreement between different people. I’m not sure how much of this even belongs on a technical blog like this one, simply because the probability for food fights is very high in that situation.

  68. Thoughtful Tom said

    9 – Gas/energy prices have already risen 50 percent in the last 8 months by current economic conditions. Taxation and limitation in addition to the increases caused by an artificially limited supply are entirely unnecessary, even under the best economic scenarios. Failing to recognize the damage that environmental policy has already created and following through by adding more load, is the height of ignorance.

    It is true that consumption of a growing world economy and a global rising standard of living, will eventually raise the price of fossil fuels to above the cost of renewables (if you factor in the externalities, we are there now).

    However, I think Jeff Id is looking at gas prices at the pump. A fairly minor chunk of energy costs, and possibly manipulated by traders. Looking at natural gas prices, fuel prices have fallen by one third from August of 2009 (~8 months ago). Indeed natural gas prices look like they did in 2005. The 40 year average is ~7%/year inflation, so we have lost 5 years of 7% inflation (actually more than that, as 2008 price increases where above the 40 year trend).

    Coal shows a similar pattern:

    http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/coal/page/nymex/nymex_historical.html

    Said another way, if you favor a tax on carbon – now is the perfect time, given the extreme dip in energy costs. Indeed taxing carbon as it enters the market and providing an equal dividend (from the tax proceeds) to all Americans would have the immediate effect of reducing US CO2 emissions – easily beating the 17% the President called for.

    Then when American know-how creates the low/no carbon energy sources, we can again export that knowledge, at a profit, to other countries (addressing point 1).

    All of this only make sense if you accept the AGW theory, which I do at the global level (ie intense scrutiny has revealed some problems (hockey stick) and verified some analysis (temperature record shows warming) – but overall the logic of man-made CO2 causes warming that will cause us problems has not been disproved, as far as I know.

  69. SBVOR said

    Jeff Id (April 25, 2010 at 3:57 pm),

    I always respect the wishes of the blog owner.

    As a final comment, I would only like to say that debating the means of achieving decarbonization is — IMO — relevant to the thread.

    I would be happy to debate Carrick here. But, if it’s just he and I in a time-out room, I will decline.

    Thanks for your indulgence to this point.

    Respectfully,
    SBVOR

  70. Jeff Id said

    Again, the open thread is not a waste basket, it is a valid place to let it rip. If you leave your best argument there, Carrick will not let it stand unaddressed.

  71. Jeff Id said

    You are the second to say that I’m wrong about alternative energy, my opinion is that the issue is more basic. Do we accept government accelerated decarbonization or do we point out the ignorance of that position.

    In my opinion, Pielke’s post is one of the most ignorant I’ve seen in credible skeptic blogland. It shows a lack of understanding of business, economics, physics, today’s results from warming, and politics.

  72. Jeff Id, you characterize my views as follows, “The point Peilke makes is govenrment intervention to reduce CO2 output as a ‘helpful’ solution”

    You are free to make up stuff and then criticize it, but it is a poor way to exchange ideas. That is not what I wrote, mnor is it what I have recommended. You may not like the jargon I use or the politics I espouse, fair enough, but do try to at least get them right when critiquing. A few commenters on this thread have a far better understanding of my views, so the miscommunication is not all my fault;-)

    I have a book length treatment coming out soon on this topic and you will be free to trash it all you want. But please understand it first. It is clear that you haven’t the first idea about my policy views on energy or climate.

  73. Tom Fuller said

    TinyCO2 at 59, this misconception is part of what distorts the discussion. American energy use plateaued about 10 years ago, despite increasing population. We used about the same amount of energy last year as in 1995, give or take 1% (I don’t really think measurements are more accurate than that).

    Obviously part of that is outsourcing some dirty manufacturing to China and other developing countries. But a lot of it comes from other sources such as efficiency. Sadly, some of it recently has come from decreased demand due to the recession. And it’s devilishly hard to attribute which level of energy sources are due to which factor.

    But for the entire developed world, energy use is not expected to increase at all over the next 20 years. At all. 100% of the increase will be in the developing world. (In the rich countries, use of electricity will increase quite a bit, counterbalanced by decreases in other energy usage, such as industrial. In America, almost all of the increased in electricity use will be due to HVAC in commercial buildings–strange, but true, according to the DOE.)

    Doesn’t this strike anyone else as a big opportunity?

  74. Jeff Id said

    #72, You do not get to redefine the meaning of “IS”. If your goal is to redefine decarbonizatoin, you have a big hill to climb. If your views are different from the wording you used, use the correct wording. If you want a friendly environment here, explain in more detail, and if you want me to review your book send me an e-copy. No guarantees.

    If you again choose this kind of hand waiving crap, you are on your own.

    In case you haven’t noticed, I do love it when PhD’s assume intellectual superiority and I do have a history with that!!

    Stop the condescending bullshit doc. You ain’t qualified.

  75. Tom Fuller said

    Jeff, because I have a lot of respect for both you and Roger (and I agree with an awful lot of what Roger advocates), let me try and serve as interpreter here.

    Roger’s position is at heart an alternative to cap and trade, which he believes is arbitrary, impossible and fruitless. Rather than mandated targets for emissions, looking at process improvements (especially the use of benchmark standards to raise average performance to achievable best practice standards) will get more done with less political pain, and will be closer to a ‘no regrets’ policy that involves the market more whole-heartedly. Saving energy is saving money.

    What Roger has never done (as far as I know) is to combine his approach towards decarbonization with his father’s approach to mitigating whatever hazards global warming may pose, by focusing on resource constraints and human needs on the regional level which is most appropriate for seeing the effects of global warming.

    The two together offer a flexible response that can be ramped up or down as needed through proper incentives and market signals that is incredibly more common-sensical than anything put forward by the IPCC or CRU, which is why they both slam the Pielkes so hard at every opportunity.

    IMO, you guys are really barking up the wrong tree here. The Pielkes, each in their separate ways, are attempting to provide a real world answer to the question, ‘If the IPCC has got it wrong, what then do we do?’

  76. Jeff Id said

    #75, Let’s let Roger Jr explain his decarbonization rationale. He’s taken a position which he is technically/mathematically/physcically unable to support, we should watch as the good doc figures out how to respond. Currently, we are so dumb that he won’t even articulate why I’m wrong in my above post. If he cannot provide that, he get’s what he wrought.

    If people cannot admit error at tAV, you are in big trouble.

    Everyone is wrong sometimes.

    We deserve a full and detailed explanation of Pielke’s position, not just a reference to a paid for book.

  77. JAE said

    35: “Jeff Id, I’d be interesting in exploring the problems you see in wind power. Could you pick a few of your “best” reasons for why you think it isn’t a practical alternative?”

    Here are some real important issues:

    http://www.masterresource.org/category/windpower/integrationfirming/

  78. Thoughtful Tom said

    The only practical method for “accelerated decarbonization” would occur by replacing fossil fuels with alternative fuels.

    And one way to accelerate that is to stop subsidizing fossil fuels.

    Look. I would love for this point to be right. I really would. But some simple math shows that renewables win the subsidies game. Here is a very charitable math review. Forget about ethanol (actually put that in the fossil fuel subsidy column – costs more fossil fuel than just using oil).

    So we are left with 12 billion for (again charitably) 5% of the market (I think renewables are more like 1-2%) and 89 billion for the other 95%. That means that 1% of the total market costs 2.4 billion (12 billion/5% for renewables).

    Now fossil fuel (89 billion/95%)- each 1% of the total market costs =.94 billion

    If you nixed all subsidies, the relative cost of renewables would go up, compared to fossil fuels.

    So while it chaps my ass that fossil fuel (and eventually the terrorists that get fossil fuel $$) gets any of my tax dollars, and I think we should get rid of all fuel subsidies and just impose a carbon tax (tax what you don’t want) – you can’t honestly claim that fossil fuels get more subsidies than renewables (and the case I drew here was the absolute nicest one you could make for the argument that fossil fuels get more subsidies based on your link).

    For completeness – here is the link I am referring to:

    http://www.eli.org/pdf/Energy_Subsidies_Black_Not_Green.pdf

  79. TomH said

    #52

    Carrick:

    Link to study that wind generation can increase emissions:

    http://www.wind-watch.org/documents/how-less-became-more/

    Similar results are being reported in the Texas ERCOT reliability region (largest wind generating state in the U.S.) References for ERCOT to follow.

  80. Kenneth Fritsch said

    At the end of the day someone will have to explain to me why an industrial policy with strong governmental support that has worked dramatically in so many different industrial sectors would all of a sudden stop working for renewable energy. Freeways. Space. Internet. Genome. Computers. Our modern and post-modern world was constructed using the same policy building blocks that we’re talking about using here. They worked. We might not always like the results, but they worked.

    Tom, the massive subsidizing of the free way system was initiated under Eisenhower and at least partially rationalized for landing large military planes in case of war. Surely that subsidy lead to the massive consumption of fossil fuel as it, in effect, subsidized automobile travel.
    Space was undertaken as a PR contest between the USSR and the US. Landing a man on the moon was not efficient but simply part of the PR contest. A big part of the space initiative was for military purposes. I doubt whether the space program, as it has been run, has had significant direct benefits but rather indirect spin-offs that are derived from any basic research expenditure. The internet was initiated for the military and its current usefulness was the result of entrepreneurial enterprise that had little to do with government efforts.

    As I recall the genome program had lots of private content. Although in the end, Celera Corporation was not a commercial success (primarily due to not being able to patent their work under a Clinton directive) they certainly provided an entrepreneurial spirit to the overall program that was lacking in the publically funded part.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_Genome_Project

    I find it to be rather short sighted to think that developments depend on government intervention and initiatives. Beneficial results accrue from any technical effort, and not necessarily as a matter of intent. When the government is involved, I suggest we keep a close accounting of the true costs.

  81. Tom Fuller said

    Thoughtful Tom at 78, for future reference when you’re doing these calculations, world energy use was 473 quads of which renewables provided 42. Percentages estimated to remain the same for the next 20 years.

  82. Tom Fuller said

    Kenneth at 80, I am not attempting to pass judgment on the ultimate worth of these programs but to just see if a certain policy approach was effective towards realization of them. In defense of space, I love to quote Jerry Pournelle as saying that just weather satellites alone saved more lives than penicillin. I have no idea if that’s true, and I’m not sure he does either, but the point–that many lives have been saved through weather satellites–is indisputable.

    And there’s no question that the private sector played a major role in all of these initiatives. But in no case did they do it alone, and I really doubt if they could have.

    The government got what it wanted and needed from the internet, and then told the rest of us to have fun with it. How cool is that?

  83. Kenneth Fritsch said

    Roger Jr’s coyness on the subject here is not serving this conversation well. A no-no in blog land should always be a reference and hand wave to a book.

  84. Carrick said

    Jeff could we start a new open thread for the alternative energy production? Maybe “Open thread on alternative energy?”

    I’d have emailed you with this suggestion, but my email server is down.

    TomH, I’ve addressed your point on the January open thread.

  85. Kenneth Fritsch said

    Kenneth at 80, I am not attempting to pass judgment on the ultimate worth of these programs but to just see if a certain policy approach was effective towards realization of them. In defense of space, I love to quote Jerry Pournelle as saying that just weather satellites alone saved more lives than penicillin. I have no idea if that’s true, and I’m not sure he does either, but the point–that many lives have been saved through weather satellites–is indisputable.

    Tom, is your point here that since a program that was poorly conceived resulted in a spin-off that saves lives, we can then apply that reasoning to future programs by rationalizing the unintended beneficial consequences as a reason for just about any program no matter its direct justifications.
    All this reminds of the “broken window” fallacy of the French economist, Frederic Bastiat, where when it is shown that the broken windows of the baker result in spending and work for the window repairer and the window repairer buys more products etc. It all sounds good until one considers what that money spent on the broken windows could have benefited. We tend to see only what happens and not what could have happened.

  86. Tom Fuller said

    Kenneth at 85, I think the policy goal of the space program–preventing Russian domination of lower earth orbit space–was reasonable, was achieved, was worth every penny spent. I think many of the spinoffs were predicted in the 1940s (Heinlein et al), were expected, and complaints were made that they were not forthcoming more quickly.

  87. Tim said

    #86 – Tom

    There is a huge difference between directing massive funding towards a one off event and completely replacing our energy infrastructure. For starters the moon program had an end date – i.e. a point at which the objective was achieved and the money could be directed elsewhere. Subsidizing renewables is an expense with no end. That itself is an argument against the subsidy.

  88. Tom Fuller said

    Tim at 87, IIRC, Apollo was never presented as the be-all and end-all of our space ambitions. And subsidizing technology to hasten the day it reaches competitive pricing is not exactly new.

  89. Carrick said

    Tim:

    There is a huge difference between directing massive funding towards a one off event and completely replacing our energy infrastructure. For starters the moon program had an end date – i.e. a point at which the objective was achieved and the money could be directed elsewhere. Subsidizing renewables is an expense with no end. That itself is an argument against the subsidy.

    The trouble I have is that the majority of argues I’ve seen from “your side” are specious and rely on sources that are totally non-authoritative themselves. When one looks into power generation and transmission, it has virtually nothing to do with some of the claims that people are making. At least one of the critics of wind power generation turns out to be a real estate agent who is concerned about effect of wind generation equipment on property values and has zero experience in the power generation industry.

    Many of the blanket statements you guys make don’t hold any water, I suppose you know this, because you seem unwilling to put one on the pedestal as the prime reason for not adopting alternative energy generation. Instead, it’s a steady barrage of arguments, none of which can survive any substantive scrutiny.

    As a particular example, you have absolutely no way of knowing that “Subsidizing renewables is an expense with no end.” In the sense in which you are describing it, public energy already is a subsidy with no end, so I suppose we should henceforth dispense with it, right?

    You go first.

  90. Jeff Id … you write, “Stop the condescending bullshit doc. You ain’t qualified.”

    With an attitude like this, I don’t see much point in further engaging here, and frankly, can’t say as I really understand the hostility as I don’t think we’ve crossed paths before, but whatever, it is your blog.

    Misrepresenting someone’s views and then blaming them for your own ignorance is no way to start a conversation. So if you read my book great, if you don’t fine too. I’d just ask that you either educate yourself on my views or stop misrepresenting them, which this post does in spades. I’ve written plenty on the topic in recent years, on my blog and in freely available papers, and they are not hard to find.

    All best …

  91. Carrick:
    Wind power has been through, what, three historical phases of financing and infusions? What do we have, in return, to show for that? “Installed capacity” figures, and a measly single digit percentage contribution – in several countries worldwide.

  92. Tim said

    #89 – Carrick

    Farm subsidies are a good comparison because they are justified with all kinds of intangible arguments (preserve the family farm, jobs, et. al.).
    No sign of them ending any time soon and the programs have been in place since the great depression.
    I don’t see any reason to believe that renewable subsidies would be any less permanent.

    I would love to have a fact based discussion because I build stuff to sell to people in the electrical distribution business so my opinions are at least partially formed by direct knowledge of the field. My university background is in power engineering so I have studied these issues before AGW ever became a topic of discussion.

    However, finding unbiased sources is tough. A lot information is produced by AGW advocates who know nothing about the industry. They just add up numbers on paper and declare that a solution exists. Another source of suspect information are companies flogging renewable technologies. Even government reports are shaped by political necessity.

    I think a good place to start would be to collect information on the topic which can be used a reference for further discussions:

    Here is my initial list:

    http://www.masterresource.org/

    http://www.withouthotair.com/

    http://nucleargreen.blogspot.com/search?q=jacobson

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=a-path-to-sustainable-energy-by-2030

    Note the list include pro and anti sources.
    Perhaps Jeff will give ua a thread/post to collect this information.

  93. Jeff Id said

    I put this on the doc’s thread

    It is not and has not been my intent to battle with you, however, if you cannot address my points, you get what you deserve.

    If you lack the ability/will to defend your position, I understand, however your pathetic attempts at making it seem that I am unreasonable or unwilling to listen will not fly.

    Snip this if you like, or actually defend what you wrote. Do not pretend that a link to your book answers the criticisms of this naive post.

  94. Jeff Id said

    Actually it seems a lot like gavin, except he’s willing to at least stop by. Why is it that he’s got the assumption that we won’t listen? Has anyone here ever had that experience at tAV?

  95. Jeff Id said

    I’m happy to address any points he has to make here or at his blog, however, if he won’t address the criticisms and won’t even bother to clarify his points, then I wasn’t wrong in any way whatsoever. Just another liberal climatologist, except this one is trying to play the fence.

  96. Tim said

    #94 – Jeff

    Yikes. I was about to suggest your tone was uncalled for but went back a reviewed the thread. It is mystery why Roger ignored all of other legimate arguments and choose to focus on the speen venting at the end.

    BTW – I think the disconnect is Roger is talking about reducing CO2 per unit of GDP which does not necessarily mean that CO2 emissions go down. On that front he is right. China and India are rapidily ‘decarbonizing’ but I agree that use of the term is generally thought to mean an absolute reduction in CO2 so Roger is creating confusion.

  97. Andrew_KY said

    JeffId,

    I totally agree with your assessments(#93, #94, #95).

    There is only one reason a commenter appears and then runs away.

    They lost that particular fight and are fleeing to where conditions may more favorable. :wink:

    Andrew

  98. Jeff Id said

    #96 Thanks Tim. It was VERY disconcerting for me to read his post. This post was the toned down version of my reply. Now people tell me that he’s redefining decarbonization. All that he really needs to do is give his HONEST opinion and let the rest have at it.

    Tom Fuller has a 180 degree political view from me and he guest posts here. John Pittman is similar.

    Blogs are about disagreement and discussion, Pielke was condecending in his replies here and frankly, of all things in climatology, that is what I’m most tired of. These boys don’t have one single IQ point over the rest of us and perhaps should consider that the balance may not be in their favor. They need to talk as equals or shut the hell up.

    He wants desperately to pretend that my points are unreasonable, and made a big stretch to be offended. If he wants to lead, he had better be prepared to defend his positions.

  99. Skip said

    I do actually think that the concept Pielke’s pushing, that of looking at the efficiency of our energy production, is a useful one. I just wish that he’d used different terminology.

    BTW Jeff, I don’t know that I’d agree that he won’t bother to clarify his points – on the comment thread on his post, my posts and his replies basically went like this:

    Me: WTH? This makes no sense in terms of absolude decrease of C.

    Pielke: I mean C/GDP. Here’s a paper where I talk about it.

    Me: Oh, ok. I see where you’re coming from. (Rant about how this definition won’t satisfy the catestophists inserted here).

    So from my perspective, on his blog, he made a post that initially made no sense (I had much the reaction to it you did), but when I asked about it, he cleared things up to where I at least understood his perspective. And was quite polite in the process.

  100. Jeff Id said

    He can do it here then, and we can then explain the definition of decarbonization to the doc.

  101. Carrick said

    Shrub:

    Wind power has been through, what, three historical phases of financing and infusions? What do we have, in return, to show for that? “Installed capacity” figures, and a measly single digit percentage contribution – in several countries worldwide.

    There are countries with more than measly single precision contributions—namely Denmark, which currently generates 20% of its capability from this.

    Wind power in the US is a relatively new.

    If we all lived in your world view, we wouldn’t have adopted wood fires for caves yet.

  102. Carrick said

    Tim 92—thanks for the links. If I get time, I will write up a post. I don’t plan on a “fair and balanced” presentation. After all this is science and technology and there is a right answer to the question “is wind power economically practicable?”. Real estate agents worried about potential loss in home values don’t get equal time with the basic science issues. That’s just not how I roll.

  103. ROM said

    From a layman’s and an old retired farmers perspective!
    If you look at the projected increase to about 9 billions on this planet by 2040 or 2050 the rising living standards and adequate food production hinge almost totally on the availability of cheap energy.
    Cheap energy as the history of the development of our industrial society has proven was the reason behind the increased availability of food as food production could then move from a peasant type production to a mechanised system and from where up to 80% of the income of the lower classes was spent on enough food to enable them to live to where food now takes less than about an average 20% of a worker’s wages in the developed countries.

    The advent of cheap energy meant iron and then steel could be manufactured in large enough quantities and so cheaply that it could be used to build the machines that provided work and better pay and so to the industrialisation of economies and to the urbanisation of the workforce.
    The ability to travel to employment with the advent of trains plus water supplies, sewerage and consequent better health, the rise of long distance food transport so that seasonal shortages or surpluses in a region could be supplied or exported to and from other areas meant the rapid rise in living standards and the elimination of seasonal food shortages during the industrial revolution.
    All of this rested solely on the availability of cheap energy.

    Cheap energy meant the production of artificial fertilizers at prices where they could and can be used to dramatically boost food production.
    With cheap energy and therefore cheap fertilizers and cheap transport many other areas for food production were opened up from the early 1900’s which is one reason that the 20th century saw such a reduction in the previously regular famines in many countries as food could be rapidly moved globally to areas of food shortages

    Fertilizers, both the phosphorus based fertilizers and the nitrogen based fertilizers for agriculture take a lot of energy to produce.
    When these fertilizers reached over a thousand dollars per tonne ,[AUD] normal price is round about half this, due to the Chinese demand a few years ago, a lot of Australian farmers did not use any fertilizer or just cut right back.
    OK for a year or two as the crop can draw on unused reserves of fertilizer in the soil if you have been conscientious about your farming.
    Now with the crazy demands of the global warmers and politicians to put a huge tax on all sources of energy then fertilizers and chemicals and numerous other necessary inputs to food production will be reduced unless there is a dramatic rise in prices received for grain which of course leads to dramatic rises in food prices of every type.
    A lot of grain is used in animal feed, the starch from grain such as wheat, is used in foods of all types and in some industrial production processes.
    Transport costs rise as grain is shipped everywhere around the world and in fact the grain supply pipeline is estimated today as about 28 days.
    If the world’s grain supplies fall below 28 days supply or even down near that number then the world no longer has enough food to feed itself, a situation I have seen at least twice in my lifetime of over 70 years.

    Huge taxes on energy to supposedly “decarbonise the economy” as wanted by the warmers and politicians will create immense problems and probably lead to some potentially serious food shortages as areas go out of food production as they cannot afford the long distance cartage costs for the necessary inputs or the transport costs to export their produce and / or can no longer afford the much higher priced fertilizers and chemicals that use a lot of energy in their production.
    So the chances of significant reductions in acreage both in the outlying areas that produce food and a reduction in yields is quite likely unless there is a dramatic rise in the price of all food products to compensate for the big increases in energy costs due to the global warming taxes and imposts.

    This is the price, perhaps for some, the ultimate price that will be paid by the very poorest on this planet if the craziness of the well off, western based global warmers / climate change claque with their cult like demands for crippling imposts on energy is allowed to go ahead.

  104. Steve E said

    #90-Roger Pielke Jr

    “With an attitude like this, I don’t see much point in further engaging here…”

    I think that’s rather the point. You didn’t engage here at all. You were dismissive and you were condescending. For the rest of us great unwashed (and I will gladly accept that moniker) it is disappointing to see that when you are asked to clarify/defend your position you act like Gavin, Tamino, Connelly et al. I am disappointed. I follow your blog, but I guess there is a reason why there are few comments made there. Jeff is far more “the honest broker” than thou. He actually courts alternative view points and turns his blog over to them. Here, especially he has a point.

    So disappointed.

    Jeff, once again, thank you for honestly addressing important issues.

  105. Carrick:
    I knew you would bring up Denmark – the shibboleth to catch a true wind-power believer.

    Wind power in the US is relatively new, but the US is the largest investor presently.

    If I lived in a cave, burning wood fires and a used wind-turbine salesman tried his sales pitch on me, I would still live in the cave and burn wood.

  106. Steve E said

    #105-Shub Niggurath

    “If I lived in a cave, burning wood fires and a used wind-turbine salesman tried his sales pitch on me, I would still live in the cave and burn wood.”

    Without cheap energy we all live in caves!!!”

  107. Frank K. said

    #101:

    I hereby nominate Carrick to remove ALL winter ice build-up on the wind turbines deployed in my home state of New Hampshire. And while he’s at it, he can provide the decapitated birds and bats a proper burial, AND shovel the snow off of the solar panels. And when, my electric car won’t start in the sub-zero temperatures, he will provide me with a free ride to work! :^)

    Seriously, as a mechanical engineer I have nothing at all against “alternative” energy sources; wind, solar, biofuels, etc. Heck, I just installed a pellet stove in my house and it works great. Heat from saw dust! In locations where alternative energy sources make sense and be deployed in a cost-effective way, bring ‘em on. BUT, make no mistake – they will not provide 100% of our energy needs. Consequently, in the near term we will require nuclear, clean coal, and some fossil fuels…

  108. Carrick said

    Frank K, hopefully you’re aware that the stories of bird killings by wind power is another bogus anti-wind story right?

    There is just one study that suggests there may be an additional mortality of birds from it, and it is contrafactual to every study that has come out since.

    And bats? You’re seriously kidding now. They are way to smart to run into a turbine blade.

  109. TA said

    “6 – Redaction of bad law is incredibly difficult.”

    I would add: especially if the bad law produces revenue for governments. Then it’s pretty much impossible to get rid of.

  110. Carrick said

    Shub:

    I knew you would bring up Denmark – the shibboleth to catch a true wind-power believer.

    I’m not sure you have a point here.

    Either Denmark gets 20% of their power from wind or they don’t. You said single digit, sounds like you are wrong. Facts have nothing to do with being “believers”.

  111. Tim said

    #101 – Carrick

    The 20% figure for Demark is misleading because they export most of it. The power actually consumed within Denmark is in the 6-12% range depending on whose figures you use.

    More importantly, wind power in Denmark depends on the hydro power in Sweden which can be easily adjusted to match the wind load so if you want to calculate percentages you need to calculate percentages of the entire northern European grid. Quoting only the percentage of Danish consumption is a cherry pick.

    There are other aspects of the Danish scenario which don’t get reported by wind power buffs. For example, the spot price of power drops when the wind blows because there is more supply. This means Danish export their wind power for cheap prices. When they have to buy it back when the wind is not blowing they pay more. Sometimes alot more. This is a fundemental economic problem which cannot be solved by better technology or higher fossil fuel prices.

    In Texas the situation is even worse because there are not any hydro resources that can be dialed down. So there are times the grid operator refuses to take the power from the wind turbines. This has created a bizarre situation where the wind power operators PAY the grid operator to take the power. The amount they are willing to pay depends on the subsidy they get from the government.

    If you take the time and do the research you should realize that wind has a place in certain niches where the weather patterns and geography align but it is not a general solution to our power problems and will never provide more than a small fraction of our needs.

  112. gallopingcamel said

    Accelerated carbonisation makes perfect sense to me as long as you do it right.

    We need to overproduce non-perishable food to cover the next 1816 (Year Without a Summer). Let’s have a bean mountain.

    We need to produce more hard timber for long term use in construction and quality furniture.

    We need to produce much more electricity from low cost, innovative nuclear plants such as Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors that can be mass produced in factories and delivered to site on one truck.

    If we produce enough LFTRs, Joe Sixpack will trade in his 4X4 for an electric vehicle without the government twisting his arm. He will buy the electric vehicle because it is much more fun to drive while costing less to run.

    We will get to keep more of our precious fossil fuels for better uses than just burning them.

    The CO2 content of the atmosphere might dip slightly. Will it matter? Not at all!

    I know I have said this before but none of you seem to be listening!

  113. Tim said

    #108 – Carrick

    Bird deaths are real issue with wind turbines. But you are right about the bats – they don’t run into them. But the pressure changes cause internal trauma

    http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2008/08/25/bats-wind.html

    The condition, known as barotrauma, affects bats more than birds because bat lungs are balloon-like and can over-expand, bursting surrounding capillaries. Bird lungs are more rigid and tube-like and better able to withstand sudden changes in air pressure.

  114. Carrick said

    Tim, I have to disagree with you about the birds. It’s been studied to death, and the vast majority of data doesn’t support the argument it is a real issue.

    For birds, the mortality rate is approximately that of any other vertical obstacle (including trees, kill the trees, save the birds!). The term I have heard (sitting in a session on bird mortality at a conference) was the mortality rate was “environmentally insignificant”.

    I wasn’t familiar with the bat death, though I haven’t come up with objective numbers (fraction of population). Thanks for the reference though.

    you might be interested in this.

    In order for a hazard to be environmentally significant it must approach a meaningful fraction of the total annual mortality rate for the species. 5% is a number I’ve seen as a threshold for that.

  115. SBVOR said

    Carrick (the utterly dishonest propagandist) sez:

    “the stories of bird killings by wind power is another bogus anti-wind story”

    Hey, Carrick! Was this video faked? How about the moon landings, were they also faked?

    Click here for more on wind power, birds AND bats.

  116. Carrick said

    Tim:

    The 20% figure for Demark is misleading because they export most of it.

    How does that make it misleading?. 20% is 20%.

    It’s always interesting to see people try and explain how a number is not a number. Everything else is just hand waving data that you find threatening.

    For example, the spot price of power drops when the wind blows because there is more supply. This means Danish export their wind power for cheap prices.

    Of course prices drop when there is more power, law of supply and demand. But you need to put numbers to this. “Cheap prices” isn’t a scientific or engineering term, as far as I know.

  117. Tim said

    #114 – Carrick

    If you look that the scale of wind power developments that would be required to have a significant impact on total energy consumption (i.e. thousands upon thousand of turbines) those small death numbers could explode into serious problems for some species.

    The point of the bird issue is to remind people is there is no such thing as a zero impact energy source. As long as human are around will be changing the environment and some species will be losers.

  118. Carrick said

    SBVOR, I’ve seen vultures run into a telephone pole too.

    Should we take them down too?

    See my comment about “environmentally significant”. Then Enjoy this nice cartoon by Josh

    Connect the dots.

  119. Tim said

    #116 – Carrick

    Depends on what point you are trying to make with the 20% number. If you are just saying it is a meaningless factoid then I won’t argue. If you want to claim that Denmark is a country that get 20% of its energy from wind then I will say you are making one of those ‘true but false’ statements.

    Who benefits if the Danes subsidize their wind power and sell it to the Swedes for $10MWh and then have to buy power back from them at $40MWh? I would say the Swedes.

  120. Carrick
    You said single digit, sounds like you are wrong”

    I said, single digit in several countries which is not factually incorrect.

    The success of a lone Denmark example is as much illustrative of the overall inefficacy of wind power as is the failure to ‘significantly’ contribute in all other countries with installations.

  121. Carrick said

    Tim, if you want to discuss environmental impacts of different energy sources, coal is certainly one of the highest for both humans and other animals.

    But I agree that nothing humans do is zero impact.

    I didn’t get a chance to comment on government subsides above. I generally agree with what you said there.

    Corn and corn ethanol subsidies are a beautiful example of the problems with government interference with the market.

    But there is a distinction between subsidies and infrastructural investment. The US has a government-paid interstate road system. Government supported universities and university-level basic research. All of these are continuing commitments.

    I suspect to have the sort of power grid to accommodate the sort of distributed power demanded by alternative energy sources, we would need continued government to support this. Companies won’t build highways in to a town if they are considering putting a plant there. They put a plant there if the highway goes to that town. I think the same ideas apply to an energy back-bone for the US.

  122. Carrick said

    Shub:

    I said, single digit in several countries which is not factually incorrect.

    Then it becomes a pointless or misleading comment. That’s what it comes down to from you? We can’t trust what you say?

    The success of a lone Denmark example is as much illustrative of the overall inefficacy of wind power as is the failure to ‘significantly’ contribute in all other countries with installations.

    Again, this is a relatively new experiment in most countries, so this illustrates nothing. Vigorous hand waving and unsupported rhetoric on your part is no substitute for facts.

  123. JAE said

    Carrick: Are you ignoring #77 on purpose? If so, why? Wind power was shown to be a minor player over a hundred years ago. Why oh why don’t we study history?

  124. JAE said

    Carrick: You are the biggest hand-waver I have ever seen. I have not read all your bullshit, but a scan provides no substance at all. If you are not just a damn troll, you will provide some data, references, facts. I gave you some, and you ignore them. Put up or shut up!!!

  125. Tim said

    #121 – Carrick

    I suspect we might agree more on the details than on the big picture. I agree that governments have a role building the initial infrastructure like interstates or the first internet backbones. But once they have done that they should get out of the way and let the market figure out the best use that infrastructure.

    The problem with energy is figuring out what the equilavent of the ‘interstate’ system is. It might be the smart grid but it is definately is not the sources of production. If the smartgrid can deliver on its promise then there will be no need to subsidize wind because it will not be as constrained by the distance to markets. The trouble is we cannot know if the smartgrid will work til it is built.

  126. timetochooseagain said

    I reprodude here, my comment on Roger’s post, and his (non) response:

    Roger, do you think you can clarify what you mean by “accelerate decarbonization”?

    If by that you mean that governments engage in active intervention in the energy economy to make it decarbonize faster than it normally would, I vehemently disagree that such would be “good” for anyone, except perhaps the governments themselves.

    When you talk about “investment” in “alternatives” do you mean forcibly taking money from “the rich” to pick winners with it and try to force innovation by throwing money at whoever the government thinks or wants to succeed in alternative energy? I can’t support that.

    I say that if you want “decarbonization” you need to leave the Energy economy the hell alone. No more subsidies/taxes, mandates, “carbon price” crap, or any of the ridiculous regulations and rules. You asked if oil subsidies influence decarbonization: Yes, and those of us who aren’t “progressive” are as opposed to subsidies as we are to taxes. But where are the people calling for eliminating ethanol subsidies and wind subsidies? You complain about oil but those kinds of energy not only get a pass, but should get more money. I say NO to that!

    He said:

    The world has been decarbonizing for more than a century at a rate of 1-2% per year (where decarbonization is defined as carbon emissions per unit of GDP). To accelerate decarbonization means to increase this rate.

    So before saying “No” maybe pause a second to at least get the ideas straight (then say No!;-)

    That didn’t even come close to answering my objections. He just proceed to suggest I am opposed to very idea of “accelerated decarbonization” itself not THE MEANS BY WHICH THIS IS MADE TO HAPPEN!

    It is ridiculous to oppose an abstract idea! The idea is nothing but that, there is no point to opposing such! But he ignores my objections to the implied means!

    There is no value in discussing with someone, the problem you have with their stance on something, when the proceed to tell you they are saying nothing more than the support some abstract concept. Like saying “I object to the use to which you are putting algebra” and the reply is, “Well y=x, so there”. WTF?

  127. Carrick said

    Tim:

    Who benefits if the Danes subsidize their wind power and sell it to the Swedes for $10MWh and then have to buy power back from them at $40MWh? I would say the Swedes.

    Some quick facts checking here: of the energy produced in Denmark, around 20% is produced by wind power, somewhere between 10-15% of that is consumed internally. Of the remaining 5%, that gets sold at discount prices. But so what? It’s better to use the facility and sell the extra capacity than to not use the extra capacity. That sell-off of 5% further reduces the cost of the 10-15% consumed internally.

    The way you described it, it sounds like the Dane’s sell all of their wind power off then purchase it back at a higher rate. That’s not very honest on your part.

  128. cohenite said

    My first attempt to post this didn’t work, I presume because of the number of links; I have left out the // at the beginning of the links.

    Carrick, I’m no lover of coal but renewables are a rotten joke, as in something is rotten in Denmark; Denmark is the golden haired boy of wind; read these;

    http:www.cepos.dk/fileadmin/user_upload/Arkiv/PDF/Wind_energy_-_the_case_of_Denmark.pdf

    http:www.aweo.org/ProblemWithWind.html

    Wind in Australia from leading academic and businessman Tom Quirk:

    http:www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=8559&page=0

    From engineer Peter lang:

    http:carbon-sense.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/wind-power.pdf

    As for solar, give me a break, or better still take a vacation in California or Spain.

  129. rhorto01 said

    I have to say I like Roger and I’ve found him to be a generally honest and upfront voice here on the old internets. However, I must say reading him on here is a little like trying to figure out the Delphic oracle. But I’ll try…

    Roger says:

    will help if you understand that “decarbonization” is not the same thing as “limits on CO2″.

    I’m thinking Roger has something like the definition put forward by J.W. Sun: “Decarbonization refers to a decrease of CO2 emission intensity in a trend.” Now, using this definition it is true that the result could be different than merely limiting CO2. For example, CO2 emissions could remain constant even with an expanding GDP. Emissions would not be capped, but intensity would decrease, thus, voila, decarbonization.

    However, that really doesn’t take into account many of Jeff’s objections above. For many of them (for example #4) it really doesn’t matter if one is talking about limiting CO2 emissions or just looking to decrease the intensity in a trend, the implications would be the same or as near as dammit.

    Over at his blog Roger says:

    Accelerating decarbonization of the global economy makes good sense independent of the conclusions reached in climate science.

    OK, why? Presumably the “why” will involve certain unspecified benefits. Alright, so lets spell them out exactly, and once they are spelled out they can be compared to the types of costs that Jeff has enumerated above. The way Roger has gone about this argument one would think the benefits he has in mind are incommensurable in a way that makes cost/benefit analysis impossible. Maybe this isn’t what he meant to do, but that is kinda how it comes across.

  130. Carrick said

    Jae:

    Carrick: Are you ignoring #77 on purpose? If so, why? Wind power was shown to be a minor player over a hundred years ago. Why oh why don’t we study history?

    I asked for specific arguments. You url spam in response.

    Of course I ignore you.

    Carrick: You are the biggest hand-waver I have ever seen. I have not read all your bullshit, but a scan provides no substance at all. If you are not just a damn troll, you will provide some data, references, facts. I gave you some, and you ignore them. Put up or shut up!!!

    That’s pretty funny considering I’m the only one providing hard numbers here.

    You gave me no “facts” just urls. Of course I’m ignoring you.

    You need to put up the arguments in your own words from the references you find interesting. It’s not my job to try and figure out what you thought was interesting from them or why.

  131. Carrick said

    Cohenite, oddly I know people who are 100% on solar power. They do so because they must (there is no grid where they live). So the idea that solar is a joke…

    is a joke.

    Other than that, you’ve done the same thing I’ve criticized other people for doing, which is generate a url storm and mistake it for an argument.

    Distill some of what these people say into your own words, see what happens.

  132. Carrick said

    Here’s another link, related to Tim’s comments. Behind a pay wall for you guys, but it is an authoritative review. You may be able to borrow it from a college library.

    Environmental Impacts of Wind-Energy Projects

    One of the interesting “factoids” (Tim thinks numbers are factoids) is the estimated mortality rate of birds from turbines.

    Consensus number was one bird per 30 turbines per year.

    Sources of bird mortality, United States.

    1) Glass windows: between 100-900 million per year.
    2) Electrical transmission lines 174 million per year
    3) House cats: 100 million per year (that works out to about 1 1/2 per house cat,not correcting for inside only cats, the wiki lists the US cat population at 60 million). Per cat death is higher than per wind turbine according to the NAS study by a factor of 60.
    4) Automobiles/trucks: 50-100 million per year

    Kind of puts things in perspective.

    Waiting for JAE to call me a troll again because I didn’t spam 10 opinion pieces and treat allegorical information as if it had scientific merit.

  133. Don B said

    In this EIA (Dept of Energy) report on global electricity generation, which slices and dices generation by geographical and political areas, and by source of energy, and gives projections to 2030, there will be no decarbonization by the fastest growing economies. Period.

    http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/ieo/pdf/electricity.pdf

    People can claim China is building wind generators, and they are, but in the big scheme, they are irrelevant. Coal is and will be king.

  134. Carrick said

    Here’s another graphic that includes bird mortality from wind turbine.

    Link to article, “Causes of Bird Mortality”

  135. WillR said

    Jeff:

    I guess you feel that this debate took a wrong turn If I was partly to blame for that I apologize.

    However, after reading every post, I am having trouble with “de-carbonizing” without thinking that it means turning away from fossil fuel as much as possible — which to me is “the argument” to turn to alternative energy. Efficiency does not cut it with alternative energy in every type I have investigated — and I provided a link which provides some information as to why. That leaves CO2 mitigation – which is arguably questionable as a reason to invest in inefficient technology.

    If you mean burning fossil fuel more efficiently that is another issue worth discussing. But is this an abstract discussion as in “would this be a good idea?”. I guess the answer is yes no matter where you stand on CO2. (I hope). Do you want a practical discussion? Because there is a company that produced a burner which uses sound to aid a burner to operate more efficiently. Is it an opportunity to discuss that?

    Maybe the discussion is too abstract for me. I admit I can have trouble with abstract stuff from time to time.

    Don’t hesitate to provide more guidance for those of us who just don’t get. On the other hand I would rather not participate if I can’t even fathom the topic and will wait till I can contribute something of value.

    Regards and I do agree that your time is valuable — but I can’t afford you. :-)

    Great discussions here!

  136. cohenite said

    Distill the arguments yourself Carrick, I’ve done enough running around on fool’s errands for pro-AGWers and people who think their magical lifestyles will continue if a few windmills are built on Sydney harbour and people put solar panels on their heads. And as for your people who are 100% on solar examples please and don’t use astronauts as they get 24 hour coverage of the sun

  137. SBVOR said

    Carrick,

    Are you really a “research assistant professor of communicative disorders”?

    If you are, I would say that makes you only slightly less qualified to assess climate science and/or energy policy than this guy.

    But, it would make you somewhat qualified to communicate in the disordered fashion so evident in your comments throughout this thread.

  138. Carrick said

    SBVOR, I’ll stack my credentials against you, any time any day.

    I do other things that research in hearing science (that is an adjunct position).

    Do you revel in being an asshole?

  139. Carrick said

    Cohenite:

    Distill the arguments yourself Carrick.

    Um no.

    If you aren’t interested in debating, just say so.

  140. AMac said

    Personalizing disputes about concepts; offering insults to another poster because s/he has a different perspective about something.

    What a novel concept. Especially for a blog concerning AGW issues! If this idea spreads, it’s sure to help us in our battle against them.

  141. Frank K. said

    Carrick – I was only joking about the birds and bats (but NOT about the ice!)…But since this has become an issue…From USA Today:

    Bird deaths present problem at wind farms

    “For years, a huge wind farm in California’s San Joaquin Valley was slaughtering thousands of birds, including golden eagles, red-tailed hawks and burrowing owls.”

    “The raptors would get sliced up by the blades on the 5,400 turbines in Altamont Pass, or electrocuted by the wind farm’s power lines. Scientists, wildlife agencies and turbine experts came together in an attempt to solve the problem.”

    So, should the presence of an endangered bird species be used to scuttle the development of wind farms in a particular location? Can you say “spotted owl”? How about “snail darter”? :^)

  142. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/04/25/predictions-of-global-mean-temperatures-ipcc-projections/

    This is the best I have seen, and backs up what Jeff has found.
    .6C warming per century.

    on topic: if we want to use other sources of power like wind,
    the way to do it is to pump water up from the big lakes, and oceans to reserve pools using wind, then when electric is needed flow the water back out and generate electricity.

  143. Carrick said

    Cohenite, I have a friend who lives in Belize. Retired there fter a fruitful period during the stock market bubble.

    He uses a new fangled invention called “batteries” to store power generated in the daytime.

    Interestingly, I’m involved in system development that involves running equipment in the US western desert this summer… totally capacity of the solar system is 5000 watts ($15k for the panels). It will run in the desert for about six months with no grid access.

  144. Carrick said

    Frank, I know you were joking, I just can’t shut up tonight!

    I’ll take the peer reviewed research over USA Today though (they are effective for lining cat litter boxes, I have admitted that already).

    Notice they lumped in transmission lines with the wind farm though.

    Sneaky trick.

  145. Howard said

    Carrick:

    Never thought wind was worth more than a Sierra Club wet dream. Your support for it is interesting. Thanks for the alternative view. Good job swatting the SBVOR pest… I thought he retreated back into his bunker deep beneath the Saskatchewan crust earlier this year.

  146. Carrick said

    AMac:

    Personalizing disputes about concepts; offering insults to another poster because s/he has a different perspective about something.

    What a novel concept. Especially for a blog concerning AGW issues! If this idea spreads, it’s sure to help us in our battle against them.

    Just proof humans are humans. When you start treading on their core values (or even that’s how they perceive it), this is how many of them react.

    For SBVOR and others who might be interested I provided a short bio here.

  147. Carrick said

    Howard, thanks, I was highly skeptical of it too, until our organization landed a large grant, and I started looking into it. I’m not part of that contract, but I’m serving as an unpaid consultant for part of it. When you see very smart people involved in something, it makes you give it a second look.

    As to SBVOR, it’s unfortunate that he’s chosen this track. It’s actually possible to have productive and fruitful debate if you are willing to put yourself on the line (and allow for the possibility you’ll be shown wrong in public). Like Jeff ID, it doesn’t bother me that much to be wrong, because I get the bonus of learning something new in the exchange.

  148. Tim said

    #127 – Carrick

    If you look back I said between 6-12% their electrical consumption comes from wind power.
    20% of Danish electricity production comes from wind.
    The exact percentage exported really depends on the weather in Sweden (i.e. more rain less demand for wind imports).

    However, the market dynamics work internally too. When the wind is blowing spot prices drop until it becomes more economic to shutdown one of the thermal plants but the prices have to drop even lower than with hydro because it is costly to shutdown thermal plants. The net result is wind operators are always selling power for low prices and the beneficiaries are the operators with power than can be sold when the prices are high.

  149. Carrick said

    Luke Skywalker:

    the way to do it is to pump water up from the big lakes, and oceans to reserve pools using wind, then when electric is needed flow the water back out and generate electricity.

    Yep, I agree. Pumped storage reservoirs.

    I know about those from my grad student days in experimental gravitation. They used the change in water level as sort of a large scale Cavendish experiment measuring Newton’s constant of gravitation.

  150. Carrick said

    Tim:

    However, the market dynamics work internally too. When the wind is blowing spot prices drop until it becomes more economic to shutdown one of the thermal plants but the prices have to drop even lower than with hydro because it is costly to shutdown thermal plants. The net result is wind operators are always selling power for low prices and the beneficiaries are the operators with power than can be sold when the prices are high.

    Again, I agree with you about this dynamic. It’s “supply and demand”, and any intermittent supplier of any commodity deals with this same dynamic (including farmers).

    I’m suggesting you need to put numbers to this to quantify how important the effect is, and you have to go even further to work out when and whether that affects economic viability.

    Simply pointing out that a well-known effect exists isn’t a substitute for that. Which is my only point here.

  151. Tim said

    #150 – Carrick

    I have a simple test. Don’t subsidize wind and see if any get built. If they do then I am wrong and economic viability is not affected. If they don’t get built then I am obviously right.

  152. SBVOR said

    Carrick sez:

    “And bats? You’re seriously kidding now. They are way to smart to run into a turbine blade.”

    Hmm…
    Not surprisingly, even the USGS begs to differ with our resident audiologist:

    “Dead bats are turning up beneath wind turbines all over the world. Bat fatalities have now been documented at nearly every wind facility in North America where adequate surveys for bats have been conducted, and several of these sites are estimated to cause the deaths of thousands of bats per year.”

  153. Carrick said

    Tim:

    I have a simple test. Don’t subsidize wind and see if any get built. If they do then I am wrong and economic viability is not affected. If they don’t get built then I am obviously right.

    That logic works everywhere. “Don’t subsidize any roads and see if any get built.”

    Which is to say it wroks nowhere.

  154. cohenite said

    Ha ha, Carrick:

    “He uses a new fangled invention called “batteries” to store power generated in the daytime.

    Interestingly, I’m involved in system development that involves running equipment in the US western desert this summer… totally capacity of the solar system is 5000 watts ($15k for the panels). It will run in the desert for about six months with no grid access.”

    A number of issues here; with batteries, too bad if you get a rainy day, as I understand it the storage limit on stored solar power is 15 hours; the solution of desert locations is also not very helpful and brings me to my next point; I too have been discussing renewables with people like yourself for some time; they are usually, nominally, self-sufficient and capable people; they usually create little oases of renewable based self-sufficiency; when I point out to them that the gadgets and devices and nicknacks they base their self-sufficiency on could only come a technological society with heaps of cheap power and an integrated social and economic structure they get a bit peeved; I call them expedient non-conformists; the thing they are non-conforming too they are actually dependent on. The other thing is the livestyle; their preferred lifestyle, apart from the hypocrisy of the little nicknacks, is otherwise remniscent of some mythical pastoral paradise which never existed and which could never support the population we have today. And this is the point; apart from financial spivs and corporate opportunists the renewable ‘industry’ is advocated by self-sufficient individuals who are completely different from the mainsteam citizens who have neither the inclination or the capacity or the time to invest in duplicating the lifestyles of the renewables. So let me ask you a couple of key questions which I think really informs the renewable debate:

    1 Do you advocate a drastic cut in population.
    2 In any choice between catering for increased population -ie dams, buildings, hospitals etc- which involves encroaching on pristine nature do you think pristine nature should be preferred.
    3 If CO2 is the dominant concern with fossil fuels and not the proven pollutant aspects -ie particulates, nitrous oxides, monoxides etc- why don’t the AGWers advocate nuclear which has a proven track record in France, unlike renewables which have a track record of expensive failure?

  155. Carrick said

    SBVOR, That ground’s been covered already. I don’t have any problem admitting when I make mistakes or don’t know something or learn something new.

    Note the link on reducing bat mortality.

    Again, compare problem and solution. SImply because there is an issue doesn’t mean it can’t be resolved.

  156. SBVOR said

    Carrick sez:

    “Don’t subsidize any roads and see if any get built.”

    I guess Carrick has never heard of tolltag technology. But for the strangle hold monopoly which utterly corrupt politicians forcibly maintain on roadways, tolltag technology would have resulted in the complete privatization of roads decades ago. And, we all would have paid far, far, FAR less for said roadways.

  157. Carrick said

    Cohenite, I don’t know where you get 15 hours. It’s actually a totally arbitrary number… depends on how much spare capacity you have factored in to offset rain, etfc and how much you are willing to spend on batteries. We have factored in rainy days and can run for 48 hours. This isn’t our first foray into solar powered systems.

    Anyway, it’s not like this hasn’t been done before. Opportunity has been running off solar power for years now, in a completely remote environment with zero percent opportunity for human intervention.

    On a grid, you sell your excess power (the grid becomes your storage device in effect) and buy it back when you need it.

    One thing you need to consider is part of what makes fossil fuel so competitive is the degree to which it is subsidized by the federal government. (I know, it’s a joke…they subsidize one thing, then subsidize the second to make it competitive with the first.)

    In terms of your questions, I don’t expect or advocate a drastic cut in population, human needs take precedence over naturalistic ones, I advocate nuclear power but recognize it is a finite resource to (until we start mining uranium in space at least).

    If you want to see the ultimate vision of “solar power” check out Stephen Hawkings new program on Discover Channel (power systems planted on the surface of the star that beam their energy back to the home planet).

  158. Carrick said

    SBVOR:

    I guess Carrick has never heard of tolltag technology. But for the strangle hold monopoly which utterly corrupt politicians forcibly maintain on roadways, tolltag technology would have resulted in the complete privatization of roads decades ago. And, we all would have paid far, far, FAR less for said roadways.

    To the areas that it would have been profitable to run roads to, and no others.

    I don’t think there’s an example on the planet where you get a “reasonable” road system that is fully privatized.

    There’s a reason for that.

  159. Tim said

    #153 – Carrik

    There are many things which do not have value until they reach a critical mass.
    Roads are one of them. Once the government builds enough roads the productivity of society goes up.
    That increase in productivity is what makes the investment worthwhile.

    There is no need for the government to build a ‘critical mass’ of windmills.
    There is no economy of scale that can be created.
    More importantly, building windmills does not increase the productivity of society.
    If anything it descreases productivity by diverting resources away from better investments.

  160. cohenite said

    Carrick, I meant base power storage, but you’re right; its not 15 hours but 7.5:

    http://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/environment/largest-solar-thermal-storage-plant-to-start-up

    As for feedback tarriff, or getting paid for having your excess [sic] go back into the grid; in NSW the tarriff is set at 60c per kw hour of power; this is 3x the cost of fossil fuel power despite the additional subsidies which are given to consumers to install the panels; this extra payment per kw is not paid by the government but by other consumers [and indeed the panel beneficiaries for any additional grid power they may use] and the purpose is to standardise the cost of renewables with the much cheaper fossil fuels. So another question is this:

    1 If AGW is false what other reason is there to massively subsidise problematic sources of power.

    Nuclear is not a finite resource; actually it is a renewable because modern generation reactors can enrich their waste to make a more efficient second stage fuel:

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2008/12/13/integral-fast-reactor-ifr-nuclear-power-q-and-a/

  161. Tim said

    #157 – Carrick

    I will concede that the bird issue is not so significant in context.

    Some goes for those so called fossil fuel subsidies:

    Fact: Oil and gas production are major contributors of tax and royalty payments to all levels of government. Fortunately, for those interested in facts, the federal government publishes a lot of them, and they tell a stubborn truth. The oil and gas production business pays about $140 billion annually in royalties and corporate income taxes to the US government.

    In comparison, far from being a beneficiary of government subsidies, oil and gas producers receive little–about $2.2 billion in 2008. The major recipients of government energy largesse are wind, solar, refined coal, and ethanol with more than 60% of federal energy subsidies. And this money buys us just about 4% of domestic energy production.

    http://www.masterresource.org/2010/02/obamas-proposed-oil-and-gas-tax-hikewhat-has-the-inudstry-done-for-us-lately/#more-7678

    In case you are wondering about the royalties themselves:

    In a given year, how much does the Minerals Management Service collect in federal royalties?
    The total federal revenue collected by MMS from oil and gas leasing to approximately $6.3 billion.

    http://www.api.org/aboutoilgas/sectors/explore/oilandnaturalgas.cfm

  162. Carrick said

    Tim, I would find the of building a grid system that can handle distributed power sources to be worthwhile. It is pretty much inevitable we will need this capability in the future. I agree with you, it would be better if the government did not subsidize wind power.

    Your apparent suggestion that we do nothing is not a good recommendation for effective governance, in my opinion. Resources in fossil fuel are tight, and they will continue to get tighter. And as that happens, the need for an upgraded power system will continue to grow, and the economic costs of not having one will spiral up even faster.

    Regarding fossil fuels and subsidies, I’m afraid you’re only looking at a small fraction of the picture.

    We’re discussing electrical energy generation using fossil fuels. It’s important to follow this chain all the way to its conclusion. (NB: I have not done this analysis myself, the above link is provided as a “place to start” exploring. I have made no conclusions on how much of the numbers provided in that analysis are actually pertinent to the current discussion.)

    Including subsidization of fossil fuel electrical power, as opposed to home generated power, there is no doubt that the fossil fuels are given an unfair and substantial economic advantage through government subsidization. Subsidization of home generated power is a joke, it only covers part of the initial outlay of equipment, but then you still have to compete against the annual government subsidizes of grid-based fossil fuel power.

  163. Thoughtful Tom said

    #160

    Carrick, I meant base power storage, but you’re right; its not 15 hours but 7.5:

    http://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/environment/largest-solar-thermal-storage-plant-to-start-up

    This is hilarious. Let’s not have it said that only pro-AGW sites misrepresent the truth.

    At post #32 Jeff ID says

    #31,Carrick, I don’t agree with the wind power simply due to storage and the problems it causes, however Solar and water do have a future – however, implementation today is a very bad idea and replacement of current coal production by these technologies would do nothing.

    So the problem with wind (renewable energy) is that it can’t be stored. Then we have a story about solar thermal (note solar thermal – always more efficient than PV, even, at utility scale, in creating electricity).

    Storing 7.5 hours of usable heat, at an intensity sufficient to run steam powered electricity generators, is an amazing accomplishment, and one that directly addresses the point made by Jeff and others that storage is an issue with renewables. To somehow minimize it shows a desire to find the negative, and if the negative is not there, to manufacture the negative.

    I am not buying the argument that 7.5 hours of thermal storage of potential electric energy demonstrates a weakness in the approach, in fact it shows how much of a non-issue the storage canard is – this is the first major attempt at addressing this issue – think of what could be done if we let loose some American ingenuity on the problem.

    As others have mentioned, pumping water uphill is another solution to time-shift renewable energy

  164. Catcracking said

    Carrick,
    When you refer to roads being subsidized, are you talking about the tax that we pay when we buy the fossil fuel to make our auto engines run? I doubt that this tax is less than 50 cents in any of our states and in some it is much higher. I know that in many instances the fuel tax is diverted to other government loved projects like mass transit. In NJ the now fired governer significantly bumped up the tolls on the parkway to pay for the construction of another mass transit tunnel to New York City that the automobile drivers will never enjoy. Of course recently our government threw around stimulus $$ for many unnecessary projects that should have been paid for with local fuel tax if needed. I would not call that a subsidy but some might.
    Also I think we need to place a road tax on electric vehicles so that they pay their share of the highway maintenance and construction cost. What is the government going to do for funds when all our cars are electric or mandated to get 39 mpg. I guess the tax/gallon will go up?

    As you probably know the interstate highway system was “invented” to provide a means to move our military around in the event of a military crisis. I think this was mostly funded by the federal gas tax, please correct me if I’m wrong.

    Can you tell me the state or states that subsidize their highways ( except for the stimulus $ noted above and possibly for the corrupt Boston crowd that overran the big dig – did that come from fuel tax or general taxation?)
    I’m not aware of others that have subsidized their roads or do you consider use of fuel tax as a subsidy?

  165. Carrick said

    Cohenite, if you think of solar power being a distributed system rather than a centralized one, then this is perfectly consistent with the comments I made.

    Your problem (to me) is you are trying to force fit a technology that cries out for distributed supply into a centralized supply model. I’m not sure why people think that is so desirable. Indeed, wouldn’t any libertarian worth his own salt actually prefer reduction in dependence on the central government? It is an odd juxtaposition of political beliefs that people will rail against solar power as a viable alternative in one breath and then against government intervention in the second. Makes me say ‘wow!’

    As for feedback tarriff, or getting paid for having your excess [sic] go back into the grid; in NSW the tarriff is set at 60c per kw hour of power; this is 3x the cost of fossil fuel power despite the additional subsidies which are given to consumers to install the panels; this extra payment per kw is not paid by the government but by other consumers [and indeed the panel beneficiaries for any additional grid power they may use] and the purpose is to standardise the cost of renewables with the much cheaper fossil fuels. So another question is this:

    Which again ignores the money the federal government takes from us to pay for the grid to be there to start with. It’s always easier to make an argument if you get to ignore one side of the equation.

    Nuclear is not a finite resource; actually it is a renewable because modern generation reactors can enrich their waste to make a more efficient second stage fuel:

    Actually you just get one second shot of fuel, it’s not a “renewable” fuel, more or less a “one time reusable” one. It extends the supply of usable fuel, but not by a huge amount.

    Conservation of energy plays a role in that. ;-)

  166. Tim said

    #162 – Carrick

    Your link does not work.
    The only statistic that matters is the subsidy per KWh generated.
    Coal may get a lot of dollars but it also generates a lot of power.
    Producing the same power with renewables would take a lot more subsidies.

    Actually, I think doing nothing other than possibly upgrading the grid is the best policy.
    What will happen over the next 20 years is the price of oil and coal will gradually rise.
    There will jumps and falls but the floor price will steadily increase.
    This will make some alternate sources more attractive.
    The market will pick the most economic and that will depend on local factors.
    Wind will be used in some places. Solar in others.

    If someone produces a cheap battery that can power a household for a day or two then we will see a revolution in the markets.
    We will not recognize the grid in 50 years if that happens.
    If that does not happen then I expect to see a lot of nukes and not so many renewables.

  167. Carrick said

    Catcracking, I was referring to the fact that the road system was largely built by the federal government, including the highway system. (In my parlance this is a nearly a 100% subsidization. It’s not 100% because there are privately owned roads in parts of the west in very rural areas.)

    I simply was referring to a federal/state built and maintained road system as opposed to one that is built and run by private individuals or industry.

    And roads are not 100% paid for by fuel taxes by the way. You pay taxes on your automobile/truck and on tires too. And some states also contribute money from property taxes. (I assume this is a partial list.)

  168. cohenite said

    Carrick, talk about deja vu; this idea of a centralised versus a distributed or decentralaised power system is a conversation I’ve had with a guy called Howard Morrison who specialises in and advocates such a decentralised system where small communities of 5-10000 are powered by minature nuclear reactors; he is a fan of Tesla and argues for the small community model because of the dissipated wastage of power from large distribution networks; but again the issue is most people don’t want to live that way so short of coercion, which of course is advocated by manu AGWers, it isn’t going to happen.

    Thoughful Tom; if that aspect of solar fills you with hilarity try this, it’ll blow your cranium;

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/04/13/the-insanity-of-greenery/

  169. Carrick said

    Tim, the subsidy that matters is the cost to the consumer per kW-hr purchased of course. Because that is what is important in comparing his economic choices. That’s what you need to track the “chain of custody” of a parcel of generated energy to see all the places where the nefarious hands of government has touched it.

    My view is we need an aggressive program to upgrade our grid and reform our (very much not free market) electrical energy grid system. I favor government support into improving wind power technologies. OTH, I see it as a huge gamble to try and subsidize an unproven technology such as wind power this early in the game. (Similar to the problems with subsidizing corn ethanol.)

    Try this again. Caveat emptor on that one, it is from a clearly one-sided organization. They make excessive claims, probably it’s over the top, but at least the numbers are compiled together, so we have something to start cyphering through.

  170. Thoughtful Tom said

    #168
    You miss my point. Perhaps on purpose. Molten salt storage of solar thermal energy allows for uniform supply of electricity over longer periods from solar electric plants. You tried to present it as a reduction from a universal limit of 14 hours to a universal limit of 7.5 hours.

    Simply untrue. Presented as if it was a significant, notable problem with the technology, which it is not.

    As was already pointed out to you, you are (purposefully?) confusing solar thermal storage with traditional battery storage, and expressing disbelief that anyone lives comfortably off-grid, and if they do it is only because they bootstrap themselves off of fossil fuel.

    Yet this is actually a powerful argument in favor of renewable energy. If the AGW case is correct, and we therefore can only burn so much fossil fuel before creating unacceptable climate change, the remaining fossil fuel budget should, in fact be used to bootstrap the creation of renewable energy sources.

    BTW – that was my first time to WUWT – if that is the best he has to offer, I conclude I have avoided wasting my time at his site.

  171. Thoughtful Tom said

    #169,
    I addressed the subsidies argument in #78 above. It is a nice argument, but ultimately fails to show that fossil fuel is subsidized more than renewables, rather the opposite, on a per unit of production basis.

  172. Tim said

    #169 – Carrick

    I have no issue with spending on R&D – it is subsidies per KWh that I find dangerous because they are not sustainable or scalable.
    I agree on the need to upgrade the grid but I don’t think the smartgrid will live up to hype. It is still worthwhile though.

    The first paragraph of your link shows how they fudged the numbers to make fossil fuels look bad:

    Moreover,just a handful of tax breaks make up the largest portion of subsidies for fossil fuels, with the most significant of these, the
    Foreign Tax Credit, supporting the overseas production of oil.

    The Foreign Tax Credit is required for any company doing business in other countries because other countries insist on taxing corporations operating in their borders (something the US does too). Eliminating this credit would force US companies pay taxes twice on the same income.

    There are probably calling other things subsidies which really are not. And even if you accept their numbers the subsidy per KWh is tiny.

  173. Carrick said

    Cohenite, in my view, the original push for centralized power came from the additional costs of transporting bulky fossil fuels to the home. Solar and wind both have the advantage that they are start out distributed around the planet. And with solar, there is plenty of power in a typical suburban home to run it.

    We are inevitably approaching a phase transition to a new paradigm for energy production, distribution and storage. I’ve barely talked about it, but even corn ethanol and biodiesel, for all their problems, at the least represent energy storage mechanisms for driving internal-combustion engine cars.

    There are many things that shift in their economic value or that simply get repurposed once you have localized power sources. Nobody can argue that corn ethanol is, at the minimum, a very efficient way of storing and distributing energy in large quantities to road vehicles.

    (Let’s save discussion of corn ethanol to another thread if you don’t mind…)

  174. Carrick said

    #170 and #171 thanks for your comments.

    I am going to look into this further, since I have a niggling of a memory that in many communities you aren’t actually directly paying for every kW-hr you produce.

    I have to head to bed. It’s been a fun and lively discussion. Thanks guys!

  175. Carrick said

    Make that “I am going to look into this further, since I have a niggling of a memory that in many communities you aren’t actually directly paying for every kW-hr you consume.”

  176. Hans Erren said

    “The IPCC has determined that CO2 remains resident in the atmosphere for thousands of years”
    Well that’s only the small fraction.
    Compare the official IPCC Bern model pulse response with a standard diffusion,

    and see that even in the IPCC model, if emissions were to stop now, that after 40 years the level would already have dropped a very significant 60 ppm.

  177. Geoff Sherrington said

    17 Tom Fuller

    Four disagreements.

    1. China has long had a one child per family policy. This is not an impediment like India has. It is a responsible policy for a global problem.

    2. China is spending hugely on nuclear and hydro. Construction has started for each of 4 sites to have four or six modified Westinghouse AP1000 reactors of 1250 MWe each. The Three Gorges and Yellow River hydro exceed 20,000 MW combined.

    3. The Communist Party in China has become something like a big boys’ social club, with the impetus for change coming from business.

    4. In many trips to China, I was never denied what I sought business-wise. If you wanted to sit down and work out an honest agreement, they would honour it – but you had to be reasonable, because as a group, they are not silly.

  178. cohenite said

    Number 170: I’m not purposefully confusing or misrepresenting anything; if you assert base solar power has storage capacity longer than 7.5 hours [which I did not assert; if you bother to read the link I provided you will see it is what Andasol, Spain's premier dud solar plant claims] then YOU back it up. This game played by supercilious AGWers whereby they assert people questioning AGW, or any of the offshoot issues like renewables, have to substantiate their queries is just typical of the arrogance of the whole AGW movement.

  179. Brian H said

    It all collapses because decarbonization (reducing CO2) is not a good. It is an evil. If there were any hope of achieving it, driving levels back up to 1000 ppm would be a great idea.

    BTW, the increase slope is just another fake-O fudge of the CAGW crowd. The “pre-industrial” average was about 335, not 270, with wide excursions up to about 500 or more. And the residual increase is more plausibly a result of outgassing by slightly warming seas (see rebound from last Ice Age and Little Ice Age for this historical trend) than any human activity.

  180. Gordon Walkerr said

    I don’t know what the figures are in other counties but here in France energy consumption is 20% electricity/20% transport and 60% for the rest.
    I haven’t seen anything better than 20% for possible contributions from windmills and solar.
    20% of 20% is 4%. 4% off 100% leaves 96%; which is a negligible improvment for a lot of financial pain.
    Almost the entire debate hinges on the electicity sector while ignoring the rest(80%).
    There are no serious alternatives for transport. The Prius is a middle class toy; biofuels are a joke; there are no hydrogen mines so hydrogen would need to be produced from fossil fuels or by electrolysis, with no overall carbon consumption reductions.
    People talk as if there is some equivalent of Moore’s law for renewables whereas the realistic prospects are entirely discouraging.
    Decarbonisation is a pipe dream; If wishes were horses beggars would ride.
    Carbon trading will displace production to developing countries and increase taxes in the developed world where they are already having a negative effect on growth.
    Just in case anyone hasn’t guessed, I am a denier. I think that the whole AGW thing is a state sponsored scientific fraud, probably the greatest in history. Pure neo-Lysenkoism. So IMO the mitigation stratergy isn’t a question of “real ills but false remedies” but of imaginary ills for which all remedies are equally illusionary.

    I read Roger’s blog every day. I do not doubt his honesty and fairmindedness, in contrast to realclimate or the IPCC that are merely alarmist propaganda arms.
    Sorry about the rant towards the end. I started off with the intent of pointing out that mitigation is a quantitative matter, how much and at what cost; whereas it is usually discussed qualitatively.

  181. DeWitt Payne said

    Re: Hans Erren (Apr 26 04:02),

    even in the IPCC model, if emissions were to stop now, that after 40 years the level would already have dropped a very significant 60 ppm.

    True. In fact, the initial rate of decrease is faster with the Bern model because one of the sinks has a time constant that is shorter than for a single sink model. The real problem with the Bern model is that there is a sink that is not included. If you start in 1850, the Bern model predicts a much higher CO2 concentration than the actual atmospheric concentration.

    The idea that some fraction of the increase in CO2 will stay in the atmosphere for a long time has merit, IMO. The biosphere and the upper ocean have a finite capacity so that the emissions that don’t show up in the atmosphere cause an increase in the total biomass and the concentration of the upper ocean. A higher concentration means that the atmospheric concentration would not drop all the way back to the pre-industrial level if emissions were to cease now. That residual CO2 has to be removed by processes with very long time constants.

  182. cohenite said

    DeWitt; in your piece on CO2 sinks and retention times you say this:

    “There are three reservoirs other than the atmosphere where carbon can go. They equilibrate at different rates. At equilibrium after an addition of CO2, 21.7% will remain in the atmosphere, 25.9% will be in a reservoir with a time constant of 172.9 years, probably intermediate depth in the ocean, 33.8% will be in a reservoir with a time constant of 18.51 years, probably the near surface ocean, and 18.6% will be in a reservoir with a time constant of 1.186 years, probably the ocean surface layer.”

    Is the assumption that the ocean CO2 eventually makes its way back into the atmosphere with the deeper the CO2 the longer the time it hangs around? If that is the case why isn’t the idea considered that CO2 in the middle to deep parts of the ocean is recycled with ocean water through the tectonic plates; the CO2 would precipitate to form calcite, be deposited on the plate and recycled into the mantle.

  183. MikeN said

    Jeff Id, your tone here has been very hostile to Roger Pielke, Jr.
    I also agree that you have misunderstood his positions to some extent. While I’m not sure what his exact proposals are, I do know he has written in the past that

    the solution is not to make carbon so expensive that people will be forced to use alternative energy, but to make alternative energy so cheap that people will readily adopt it.

    He has written repeatedly how other countries have high levels of emissions which are growing, so it is impractical to think they will implement carbon rationing.

    He has written about decarbonization plenty, and pointed out how much different countries are decarbonizing. And yes it means less carbon per GDP.

  184. Jeff Id said

    #183, You are right, Doc. got me all wound up. I’ve got no idea what his position is other than accelerated decarbonization, and that is enough for me. I’m sick to death of people recommending action when there is no reasonable action that addresses the IPCC defined problem (100% elimination of CO2 production) and we haven’t even determined if there is a real problem.

    It’s a sore spot, normally I like his blog but then he comes here all condecending about his position and leaves a link to his book. As though I have time to read his whole book to understand why we need government intervention?? Then he claims China is decarbonizing better than anywhere, it’s completely ludicrous. You don’t decarbonize by building as many coal plants as possible as fast as humanly possible. It’s stupid.

  185. Bob Koss said

    If climate science concludes that CO2 isn’t a problem, there is little use for any mitigation policies or equipment unless you are a rent seeker. OSHA allows an 8-hour work day in CO2 concentrations of up to 5000 ppm and plants are known to grow more vigorously at 2-3 times the current concentration.

    Linking CO2/GDP rather than Energy/GDP is bogus. Improving the Energy/GDP relationship is a worthwhile goal and is easier to track by country. If improvement of the Energy/GDP figure leads to CO2 becoming a larger fraction of CO2/GDP figure I won’t be crying over it. Well, unless I hear about it while chopping one of those extra onions the CO2 grew.

  186. DeWitt Payne said

    Re: cohenite (Apr 26 10:18),

    why isn’t the idea considered that CO2 in the middle to deep parts of the ocean is recycled with ocean water through the tectonic plates; the CO2 would precipitate to form calcite, be deposited on the plate and recycled into the mantle.

    It is. It’s called the geologic carbon cycle. The CO2 comes back from volcanoes and the mid-oceanic ridges. However, the time constant of this mechanism is very long and the flux rate is very low. But it goes on forever and dominates over time scales of millions of years.

    I’m pretty sure the parameters in the IPCC model were obtained by fitting to the GEOCARB model so the apparent size and time constants of the IPCC model sinks may not directly reflect actual physical sinks. The geologic sink is ignored in the IPCC model because its contribution is negligible on a time scale of hundreds to thousands of years.

  187. SBVOR said

    Carrick regurgitates an already busted “Progressive” lie when he sez:

    “One thing you need to consider is part of what makes fossil fuel so competitive is the degree to which it is subsidized by the federal government.”

    Hey! Carrick! I thought you said you were willing to admit your ignorance.

    Click here for the facts and stop regurgitating the lie.

  188. Carrick: I did not realize you guys were up all night/day carrying the thread forward. :)

    You call me ‘handwaving’ for pointing out that all countries which have significant wind installations have *very low* contributions to the total output?

    The wind experiment has been tried from the 60’s, in several countries. Your ‘relatively new’ argument therefore doesn’t hold completely. Wind power rises its head like a phoenix whenever there are government subsidies to mooch off of, the involved parties scam the monies and the ruckus dies down.

    Given the long incubation period of decades, the technology seed should have spun off several OEM manufacturers, several power generation paradigms (which work) by now. All we have are a handful of vertically integrated entities, a handful of OEM guys and a few wannabes who were riding the last financial bubble.

    Just to be clear, I do not think wind power should not be encouraged, or government funding shouldn’t help it. Building a wind turbine is always better than not building it – it keeps people occupied and makes them feel they are doing something, which is fine.

    But why should wind power feed off the mania that is anthropogenic global warming? Every wind-power pamphlet prefaces itself a contributor to ‘saving the planet’ – why, just for the funds isn’t it?

    Jeff:
    I thought you came down a bit hard on Dr. Roger too. But he talks about ‘decarbonization’ in such abstract terms – as if there are no real-world consequences and people involved at all.

  189. SBVOR said

    Carrick,

    Further exposing the abject dishonesty of your allegations of subsidies to the hydrocarbon sector…

    I previously noted that The Black Lung Disability Trust Fund is alleged by your utterly dishonest source to be an example of a subsidy to the hydrocarbon sector. But, your own source notes that:

    “The Black Lung Disability Trust Fund (BLDTF) pays health benefits to coal miners afflicted with pneumoconiosis or ‘black lung disease.’ Created in 1978, it is funded through an excise tax of $1.10/ton on underground coal and $.55/ton on surface coal”

    Hey! Carrick! Explain to me how taxing the coal industry in order to (allegedly) compensate coal miners with black lung disease amounts to a subsidy! ADMIT IT! It’s a BALD FACED LIE — just like the rest of the bogus claims of hydrocarbon subsidies!

  190. Catcracking said

    Carrick,
    Your reply regarding the subsidy for the highways was quite a load of mush, lacking an understanding of how highways are actually funded. You provided no endence of a subsidy therefore cannot use this as a justification for subsidizing renewable fuels. I am not aware that private roads are an issue. Where I have lived, States fund State highways, Counties fund county roads, and cities fund local streets. The Fed distributes the federal taxes to the states.
    Note the below was taken from a DOT site and implies that the Interstates were funded with fuel and other transportation fees like tolls, not subsidies.
    “Under the leadership of President Eisenhower, the question of how to fund the Interstate System was resolved with enactment of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956. It served as a catalyst for the System’s development and, ultimately, its completion. Title I of the 1956 Act increased the System’s proposed length to 41,000 miles. It also called for nationwide standards for design of the System, authorized an accelerated program, established a new method for apportioning funds among the States, changed the name to the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, and set the Federal Government’s share of project cost at 90 percent.

    Title II of the Act – entitled the Highway Revenue Act of 1956 – created the Highway Trust Fund as a dedicated source for the Interstate System.

    Revenue from the Federal gas and other motor-vehicle user taxes was credited to the Highway Trust Fund to pay the Federal share of Interstate and all other Federal-aid highway projects. In this way, the Act guaranteed construction of all segments on a “pay-as-you-go” basis, thus satisfying one of President Eisenhower’s primary requirements, namely that the program be self-financing without contributing to the Federal budget deficit.”

    Where is the subsidy?

  191. Thoughtful Tom said

    #190
    It appears from your argument that if the gov’ment imposes a tax on all Americans for gascarbon, and uses that money to subsidize fund roadsrenewable energy, you will think that is just peachy.

    Welcome aboard! I warn you though, folks on this site will now consider you a pro-AGW fanatic, and everything you say will have to be verified and triple checked, and then checked for again, before it will be considered.

  192. Carrick said

    #190 I sat down and looked at the funding sources for highways. And I explained what I meant by “subsidy” (as I have said already, and I apologize for your reading difficulties, it was an imprecise way of saying that it was being constructed and maintained through government rather than through private industry).

    And what you said was wrong about funding origins is wrong. It simply isn’t all funded through fuel taxes.

    If your point is that people are paying for their share of the roads, that isn’t close to the truth. Almost all road damage from vehicles comes from heavy trucks. Yet we fund reconstruction from fuel, automobile, tire and sometimes property taxes to fund that. Federal DOT tax dollars derive from income tax revenue, so it is completely misleading to suggest that payment is in anyway proportional to usage.

    In the end, quoting an act proves nothing. It doesn’t matter what a piece of paper says, it matters how the funding gets implemented in practice.

  193. Carrick said

    Sorry, I meant to say “part of Federal DOT tax dollar.” Given that you are working overtime to not understand what I’m trying say and appear to be working from the premise of bad faith on my part, I’ll expand this slightly.

    “Plus-up” funds that go to road and bridge maintenance, Obama’s stimulus spending money aimed at highway infrastructural improvements.

    You can assume for the sake of argument I am familiar with the revenue sources for the Federal Highway Trust Funds.

    Now I have to work.

  194. Jeff Id said

    Pielke couldn’t answer any questions.

  195. Chuckles said

    And others suggest er ‘alternate’ methodologies, that claim they have seen the enemy and ’tis us. A certain S Mosh appears in the comments.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/6161742/Contraception-cheapest-way-to-combat-climate-change.html

  196. SBVOR said

    Jeff Id sez:

    “Pielke couldn’t answer any questions.”

    Quite true.

    But, far worse than Pielke, Carrick was unwilling to admit the most egregious of his many bald faced lies.

  197. Jeff Id said

    #196, I would appreciate it if the tone were better.

  198. Carrick said

    Jeff ID, it would help if SBVOR were to actually read the thread, see it as a back and forth. His comments were already addressed above, and no I’m not going to provide a remedial reading tutorial for him today.

    As to calling people you disagree with bald faced liars.. that reminds me of how little children fight. It’s completely shameful behavior.

    People need to learn to converse like adults, if they want to be taken remotely seriously.

  199. michel said

    The difficulty occurs when the results of individual choices end up being something that none of them would choose given the alternative. This occurs, with carbonization, particularly, and obviously, in the area of transport.

    We currently use in the developed world a highly fuel intensive form of transport, the personal car and diesel engined truck. One consequence of this is that in the UK, for instance, we kill around 3,000 people a year, and we seriously injure, estimates vary, around 20,000. In the world as a whole

    http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2009/road_safety_report_20090615/en/index.html

    we are killing around 1.3 million people a year.

    This is the result of free market choices by lots of individual people, but the outcome is not one that any morally responsible person can defend as right or reasonable or better than any alternative good minds can devise.

    Something similar can happen with fuel choices. We can end up with a situation of total energy dependence on foreign powers who are not particularly well disposed to us, we can end up with our energy welfare and economy being totally at the mercy of one maniac in the Straits of Hormuz, all as the result of rational utility maximizing choices by individuals in free markets. We can end up with heavily polluted cities, with neighborhoods in which everyone drives through as quickly as possible only to get to their own neighborhood, through which others are driving as quickly as possible.

    All these things are the result of leaving fuel consumption and transport choices to individual choices in free markets. Sometimes, collective action is the only way. Not often, but sometimes. Sometimes we need to make decisions about our collective security and future welfare which differ from the choices that would result from just leaving it to individual choices. Not often, with quite a lot of misgivings, but sometimes this is what needs to be done.

    So Pielke may be right: we probably do need to decarbonize. Just not by regulating CO2 on the spurious grounds of imaginary climate catastrophes, and certainly not by cap and trade, which is a way of failing to regulate, at vast expense, something we do not need to regulate. The problem is not CO2 emissions, the problem is fossil fuel consumption, and what we are consuming it to do.

  200. SBVOR said

    Jeff – What is the proper tone for exposing what is demonstrably a bald faced lie?

    Carrick – You lied again. Among your many lies exposed in this thread, you have not yet fessed up to the most egregious of all — this one.

  201. Carrick said

    SBVOR check with your mommy on how to speak in public. I’m pretty sure you can’t afford either Jeff or my consulting rates.

  202. Catcracking said

    Carrick said:
    “as I have said already, and I apologize for your reading difficulties, it was an imprecise way of saying that it was being constructed and maintained through government rather than through private industry”

    Why would you apologize for my reading difficulties? You are the one who has now admittedly been imprecise with the use of the word “subsidy”. Interesting you proceed to personal attacks when asked to provide specifics, but as a new person here I note that this is your normal practice with others rather than discussing issues without personal attacks.

    BTW I gave examples where I suspect that subsidies were provided ( as opposed to the Transportation Trust Fund) for highway construction such as the Big dig in Boston and the Stimulus package. I never said that highway construction was never subsidized, but indicated that in general fuel tax was the source of funding.

    Finally in 2006 Corn ethanol subsidies totaled $7.0 billion for 4.9 billion gallons of ethanol. That’s $1.45 per gallon of ethanol. That’s an example of a real subsidy in my book.

  203. Carrick said

    Cat, here was my original explanation of what I meant by subsidy:

    I simply was referring to a federal/state built and maintained road system as opposed to one that is built and run by private individuals or industry.

    This was an answer to your original question by the way. And it is a subsidy in the sense that this infrastructural support is paid for by the government in response to local community and business needs. It matters not a wit whether the source of this government funding, regardless of how you what to frame it, fuel tax is still a form of taxation. It is not the same thing as a voluntary exchanges of goods and services (aka “trade”).

    You then replied to this by calling my comments a “bunch of mush”. No personal attacks there, right, cat? That’s just “discussing the issues”, right? What kind of person insults somebody then complains when they get the worlds tiniest little dig in return? Especially when it’s clear they didn’t read what amounted to perfectly clear English? Good grief.

    And really, if you go back through the comments, I think you’ll find I’ve been relatively calm about replying to insults, double standards of behavior (there is apparently a requirement that I supply numbers, but nobody, including yourself is under any obligation to do so yourselves), shifting goal posts, laundry list arguments and whatever.

    I never said that highway construction was never subsidized, but indicated that in general fuel tax was the source of funding.

    If you simply replace “fuel tax” with “transportation tax” we are in agreement. (unless you are Space Ship One, tires aren’t fuel).

    Or you can alternatively explain why it’s “mush”.

    Finally in 2006 Corn ethanol subsidies totaled $7.0 billion for 4.9 billion gallons of ethanol. That’s $1.45 per gallon of ethanol. That’s an example of a real subsidy in my book.

    Roads are virtually 100% funded through the government using taxation. You can use another word than subsidy here if you like, but it amounts to the same thing.

    In case it clarifies the issues for you, I’m not arguing I think federally funded roads are a bad things or that subsidizing wind farms is a good thing. The only thing I’ve personally advocated for is the federal support for upgrading the electrical grid.

  204. Thoughtful Tom said

    Finally in 2006 Corn ethanol subsidies totaled $7.0 billion for 4.9 billion gallons of ethanol. That’s $1.45 per gallon of ethanol. That’s an example of a real subsidy in my book.

    Ethanol and “clean carbon” are the big HOAXes! And note these were not brought to you by environmentalists – they were brought to you by big business, combined with corporate welfare state politicians in Washington.

    It is true that ethanol looked promising 10 years ago. However, anyone who looked at the data could see it wasn’t viable, at least using corn as the feedstock. Then Bush and his cronies in Congress (and farm state politicians from all parties) got on board and made it the law of the land (was this purposeful to discredit the environmental movement? I personally doubt it, but y’all do love your conspiracy theories, so I thought I’d throw you a bone).

  205. Catcracking said

    Thoughtful Tim “It appears from your argument that if the gov’ment imposes a tax on all Americans for gascarbon, and uses that money to subsidize fund roadsrenewable energy, you will think that is just peachy.”
    Tim I apologize if I mislead you, Let me try to clarify. I think it is appropriate to impose a tax on motor fuel to fund the construction/maintenance of roads since there is a linkage between the use-Tax. I would not consider this a subsidy, but if others call it a subsidy I consider it an acceptable subsidy. I am opposed to taxing other activities (except possibly something like the sales tax on cars) to fund our highways that are used primarily by the motorists, trucks. There may be special exceptions such as building a bridge to improve commerce. Some of the motor fuel tax/toll is already diverted to non highway projects and I disagree with that.
    As mentioned above, I believe we need to impose some form of tax on electric vehicles so that they also pay their fair share for the construction/maintenance of roads.
    Although not specifically mentioned by me , I am violently opposed to taxing carbon in any additional form including proposals to subsidize renewable energy or the so called alternative fuels.

    Along the lines proposed by Tim in this thread, I am generally opposed to subsidizing alternative or conventional energy/fuels in any forms except for R&D activities. Ethanol subsidies are probably the most egregious especially since a lot of fossil fuels go into the manufacture. Using tax dollars to build commercial facilities such as windmills or fuel cells is foolish since neither of these forms of energy in their present form will ever be able to satisfy our energy needs. Congress and the Administration are not capable of picking winners and losers and therefore the country and the taxpayer is the real loser.

  206. Brian H said

    CC;
    Good “thoughtful” post. My only caveat would be to assert that it is almost impossible to imagine anyone in a modern society who is not dependent on good roads for survival. The vast bulk of goods and food that all need move on roads. Taxing just the carriers leads to a somewhat distorted match of costs and benefits. It also risks serious infrastructure degradation during slowdowns.

    Anyhoo — mixing shredded tires into road asphalt seems to make them far more durable and safer! So that could lead to a significant improvement in the payoffs for road expenditures, e.g. :)

  207. SBVOR said

    Jeff,

    If I may summarize my thoughts on Pielke as it relates to your post:

    You have demonstrated — as I already knew — that Pielke’s devotion to decarbonization is faith based. As with all faith based devotions, Pielke has openly confessed that no amount of evidence could ever shake his faith. Nobody devoted to the scientific method would EVER say this!

    Then again, decarbonization is Pielke’s bread and butter. Where would Pielke be if the utterly corrupt politicians of the world admitted the obvious truth — that the preponderance of current evidence clearly suggests that carbon based energy will never cause a catastrophic (or even a net-net harmful) degree of climate change?

    I have demonstrated that — just like Al Gore and his ilk — Pielke masterfully avoids any possibility of actually having to defend whatever rationale he embraces as his excuse for advocating that governments around the world must embrace policies designed to impose global tyranny under the guise of decarbonizing the commanding heights of the global economy.

    These are the dark corners of the Pielke persona. Here are some (possibly superficial) bright spots:

    Pielke was one of the leading figures in comprehensively debunking AGW hurricane hysteria. In this post, I cited this paper from Pielke. There are others.

    In his blog, Pielke does not always go easy on the various AGW charlatans or their methods. But, even there, one could regard Pielke as even more dangerous than the outright, overt charlatans. You see, underneath his veil of reasonableness, Pielke is — as you have demonstrated — just as devoted to the global tyranny threatened by the decarbonization religious cult as any of the overt charlatans. And, in my view, Peilke’s issue with the charlatans is that their misbehavior makes it harder for Pielke to sell his decarbonization religion.

    I once hoped that Pielke’s reasonable side would win out. I no longer cling to any such illusion. As always, the bottom line boils down to — follow the money handed out by the government. In my view, the massive government gravy train is just too corrupting (even for those who are reasonable by nature).

  208. Carrick said

    I was just going to say, I mostly agree with cat also with respect to his most recent comments.

    I am completely against cap and trade, carbon tax, most of the “central government” approaches to “solving” AGW, and totally against subsidized wind farms. I disagree with a lot of people here on the inefficacy of wind power, but that isn’t important, because I think most of us agree with continued wind power R&D, so there isn’t policy wise much daylight there either.

    I think the main thing we need to do is focus on upgrading the grid to accommodate a 21st century energy production model, which is very much a distributed model for energy production.

    More R&D into energy storage systems please, including hydrogen fuel cell technology. Continued technology exploitation of solar power.

    Ethanol subsidies … not a fan. Not a fan of corn subsidies either. One of the biggest jokes is the corn subsidies reduces the cost of corn-based sweeteners, which increases their use as a replacement for ordinary sugar which in turn has serious adverse health effects.

  209. Brian H said

    Carrick;
    yes, the Law of Unintended Consequences is running wild with the anti-carbon Greenscam initiatives.

    Reality Bites.

  210. BDAABAT said

    I’m sorry, I really don’t get it.

    The big question: what VALUE do “alternative” sources of energy provide???

    My computer doesn’t seem to care where the electrons come from, it only asks that they are there. It’s the same case with every piece of electronics that I know of. So, really, what VALUE is provided by “alternative” forms of energy?

    If, like Carrick, you have a specific need to provide energy in an area of the world where cheap and ready access to energy isn’t possible or desirable, then sure, by all means, use solar or wind or whatever. But, that’s NOT the case for folks in most parts of the developed world.

    If you are in downtown Detroit, is there value from using wind power or solar or bio or whatever? If so, what exactly is that value? It certainly isn’t lower energy costs.

    That value response really determines the next steps.

    Bruce

  211. SBVOR said

    Carrick April 26, 2010 at 8:56 pm,

    Can we both agree that the best way forward is for government to get entirely out of the business of picking winners and losers in the quest for the next generation of energy sources?

    This would mean an absolute end to all subsidies, tariffs, grants, tax breaks, excise taxes, etc. This would mean that private markets and the inherent efficiencies associated with private markets would be the sole determinant of winners and losers.

    As a side note, for those who harbor irrational fears that the world will soon (or ever) run out of oil or any other hydrocarbons, I would ask them to show me just ONE natural resource which the world has EVER run out of — there are NONE (and there never will be)! The reason for this is the natural law of supply and demand.

    Yes, once the world reaches Peak Oil, prices will climb. Then, demand will drop. Supply and demand will then GRADUALLY dance their way in the same general direction until the price of oil becomes so high that demand drops to a trickle. It is a logarithmic function which will gradually approach, but never, EVER reach the point where the world runs out of oil.

    At the moment, domestic politicians on the Left are artificially inflating the price of all hydrocarbons on the global market by virtue of denying access to the overwhelming majority of the enormous hydrocarbon resources in the USA.

  212. Catcracking said

    Carrick says:
    “Catcracking, I was referring to the fact that the road system was largely built by the federal government, including the highway system. (In my parlance this is a nearly a 100% subsidization).”
    Interesting you still the impact of the federal highway fuel tax which the DOE claims to fund the interstate construction.

    Where I disagree with you (note especially the 100% comment in ( )) is your numerous claims of “subsidies” for fossil fuels in order to justify a different class of government subsidies for windmill, solar, etc.

    Lets not debate the definition of the word “subsidy” ( a Bill Clinton tactic) since we can agree to disagree, but rather whether or not the funding in question should be considered comparable to the current subsidies for renewables.

    SBVOR pointed out your claims as that the following should be considered as a subsidy for fossil fuel. SBVOR said it best:
    1) The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program – a Marxist wealth redistribution scheme.

    2) Strategic Petroleum Reserve – a National Security issue.

    3) Black Lung Disability Trust Fund – another Marxist wealth redistribution scheme.

    4) Highway Trust Fund – a Marxist scheme to perpetuate government control over a massive sector of the economy which — using tolltag technology — could have and should have been privatized decades ago.

    5) Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve – more unnecessary and counterproductive government meddling in the private sector under the false guise of protecting the consumer.

    Later there is a discussion of counting foreign tax credits as a subsidy for fossil fuels. I’m sure that you are well aware that this tax credit applies to all types of business not just fossil as well as individuals. This has nothing to do with fossil fuels. To compare this with the direct subsidy for alternative fuels is deceptive. Similarly when I worked overseas, I got credit for foreign taxes paid, otherwise I would have stayed home. Similarly US companies could not operate overseas if they paid double taxes.

    It is clear to me that your claiming that the above fossil subsidies are equivalent to direct renewable subsidies is an attempt to mislead us into believing that the proposed subsidies are comparable.

    Many of us are not buying it!

    Out of respect for Jeff, I will refrain from aditional posts on “subsidies” on this thread

  213. Jeff Id said

    #212, Don’t worry about the topic. It was blown long ago – one of the biggest problems with the lousy moderation around here.

    Oddly enough, discussing the definition of subsidy is on topic for Pielke’s reply. In case readers haven’t checked, the doc and I had it out a bit at his blog. He refused to give any detail whatsoever on his opinion other than the fact that he views the word Decarbonization to have the meaning of less carbon per GDP. While my points are unaffected by the definition (something he didn’t recognize despite repetition, repetition) he insisted that his definition of decarbonization be accepted.

    We all know the prefix de and we all know the word carbonization, so decarbonization has a meaning which any rational thinker knows means elimination of carbon. It’s that simple. His points became so ludicrous that he actually stated that China’s building of a slightly more efficient coal burning plant every week or two is ‘decarbonization’.

    A true Tiljander moment.

  214. Carrick said

    SBVOR:

    Can we both agree that the best way forward is for government to get entirely out of the business of picking winners and losers in the quest for the next generation of energy sources?

    Yes, we can.

    My main gripe about dependence on Middle East oil comes from what I see as the destabilizing influences of that.

  215. Mark T said

    It was blown long ago – one of the biggest problems with the lousy moderation around here.

    That moderator is a real bum, ain’t he? :)

    Mark

  216. Carrick said

    Cat, SBVOR didn’t point out “my” claims, he pasted claims from a document I linked and suggested might be a starting point for discussion. Go back through the comments, you’ll find perhaps three disclaimers I made in reference to that link,. None of those were anything I ever claimed as truth. For example. in one of the url links, I said this:

    Try this again. Caveat emptor on that one, it is from a clearly one-sided organization. They make excessive claims, probably it’s over the top, but at least the numbers are compiled together, so we have something to start cyphering through.

    You say:

    SBVOR pointed out your claims as that the following should be considered as a subsidy for fossil fuel. SBVOR said it best:

    1) The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program – a Marxist wealth redistribution scheme.

    I did say I thought that fossil fuels and the energy grid is heavily subsidized… low income housing certainly is an example of that. I never said I favored it, so the fact it’s a “Marxist wealth redistribution scheme” isn’t some how a blow to my argument… it’s an argument in favor of it.

    Secondly, is the Strategic Petroleum Reserve not a form of subsidization? If we didn’t depend on fossil fuel would we need it? Again, not my words, I didn’t bring it up, SBVOR brought it in out of a document I linked together with a caveat. But it doesn’t sound like it undermines that argument.

    3) Black Lung Disability Trust Fund – another Marxist wealth redistribution scheme., Sounds like we’re agreeing again. And even if we agreed on the need (hypothetically), if there wasn’t a dependence on coal, would there be a need for this fund? So how is this not a subsidy?

    4) 4) Highway Trust Fund – a Marxist scheme to perpetuate government control over a massive sector of the economy which — using tolltag technology — could have and should have been privatized decades ago. Do you agree with this conclusion? It sounds like you are endorsing it.

    Most people I know would think it’s rather over the top. I know few societies that flourish without some minimum level of government involvement. Can you name one country that has a growing, healthy economy and a privatized road system?

    5) Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve – more unnecessary and counterproductive government meddling in the private sector under the false guise of protecting the consumer. Again, support for my comment. But nothing I said.

    Now… if you think I was advocating government subsidization of fossil fuels, you need to plug that extra hole in your head, ’cause your brian just fell out. My point was the opposite: Government interference makes it harder for alternatives to compete.

    It is clear to me that your claiming that the above fossil subsidies are equivalent to direct renewable subsidies is an attempt to mislead us into believing that the proposed subsidies are comparable.

    I’ll bite. Show me where I advocated for renewable subsidies.

    My words please, not somebody else’s characterization of them.

    I am not advocating government subsidization of alternative energy sources (except R&D). And infrastructural upgrades. Because I believe there is a role of government in society, and that society is very dysfunctional without effective governance.

    I hope we’re clear on this now.

    If SBVOR had been even half civil, I would have corrected him a long time ago. Not my monkey if he or you can’t be bothered to read before criticizing other people.

    Now:

    As to debating the meaning of a word… I told you what I meant by it after you asked what I meant by it, so there isn’t much to debate over that… it’s my opinion. You can disagree with the choice of word, but disagreeing with me over the meaning I specifically outlined for you after you requested what I intended to convey…well that’s just ape shit crazy. You don’t like the word choice and want to rephrase it…that’s fine by me too.

  217. SBVOR said

    Jeff Id April 26, 2010 at 10:16 pm,

    1) I have not read the back and forth at Pielke’s blog. But, I would respectfully suggest that — even though decarbonization is a fool’s errand — Pielke presents one of at least two legitimate metrics by which to define decarbonization.

    A great many economic metrics only make sense when measured as a percentage of GDP. Since there is a direct relationship between energy consumption and GDP, I would argue that Pielke’s metrics are the more legitimate of the two obvious options.

    But, the overarching reality is, again, that decarbonization — by ANY metric — is a fool’s errand. Decarbonization through force of law is not only a fool’s errand, it is profoundly immoral. And that is precisely the religious crusade which Pielke cleaves to.

    2) In my view, allowing a thread to wander off topic is seldom a vice — especially when meaningful discussions are, never the less, taking place.

  218. Carrick said

    Jeff ID, SBVOR and I agree on this too.

    You can control this to some extent by creating new threads, like “Open Thread: Alternative Energy” then shifting the discussion that way. The problem with the other Open Thread was it was “stale” (no longer on the front page).

    I understood Pielke’s definition of decarbonization as being decrease in carbon intensity (ratio of CO2 emissions to GDP). These are buzz words in that area. Pielke is in the “soft sciences” and they aren’t used to the “hard ball questions” we throw. I rarely have gotten him to bite on my comments either, if that helps.

  219. SBVOR said

    Carrick April 26, 2010 at 10:44 pm,

    1) Your opening move was CLEARLY intended to fabricate a moral equivalence between direct subsidies for alternative energy and what is falsely characterized as direct subsidies to the hydrocarbon sector. If you were honest, you would admit that.

    2) Each of the programs which your utterly dishonest source falsely characterizes as direct subsidies to the hydrocarbon sector is intended for some ill conceived Leftist purpose OTHER than subsidizing the hydrocarbon sector.

    3) At BEST, you might argue that these programs indirectly provide some minuscule amount of enhanced demand for hydrocarbons. But, the NET effect of Leftist intervention in the energy sector is (OVERWHELMINGLY) to drive DOWN the demand for hydrocarbons and drive UP the cost. It is a DELIBERATE strategy which is part and parcel to a Leftist agenda to grab control of The Commanding Heights of the global economy. If you don’t believe me, just ask Carol Browner (or, more to the point, inquire into Carol Browner’s affiliations and the utterly unsurprising outcomes under her Marxist guidance).

  220. Catcracking said

    # 214
    Glad to see we are mostly on the same page

    One comment on the oil we get from the middle east
    As of 2007 the regional supply was the following with 17% from the middle east, Canada is our major supplier.

    North America 1,648,765 33.56%
    Africa 980,231 19.95%
    Middle East 837,841 17.05%
    South America 784,999 15.98%
    Europe 567,152 11.54%
    Asia 91,236 1.86%
    Oceania 2,774 0.06%

    I am personally frustrated that we don’t have a policy to replace ASAP at least the 17% from the Midddle east with oil extracted from onshore and offshore USA including Alaska. Even if you believe AGW and want to reduce our carbon footprint, replacing Middle east oil with US oil is effective since the carbon footprint associated with shipping is significantly reduced. The impact on jobs and revenue would be significant to our treasury.

    Replacing 17 % is doable except for our government policy of preventing exploration and production in many regions and even more so in the past year. In 2009 the lease sale revenue from our treasury fell to 10% of the 2008 revenue. Things will only get worse unless this policy is significantly changed.

  221. SBVOR said

    Carrick, et al:

    Click here and see how I objectively quantified the FACT that ANWR alone could have added enough additional oil supply to the GLOBAL market to completely avoid the $4.00 gas prices we witnessed in 2008.

    Next, click here and here to refute the assertions that ANWR development would be insignificant.

    Next, click here to see that — relative to our total untapped hydrocarbon resources — ANWR really is a drop in the proverbial bucket.

    Also note that the previous link does not even consider the GIANT new discoveries in domestic Natural Gas.

    So, the next time you find you are paying more than you might like for energy, thank the Dims for denying the world access to largest hydrocarbon resources in the entire world (while chronically, knowingly and deliberately DISTORTING THE FACTS!)

  222. Skip said

    Jeff, I posted this in Pielke’s thread, but it’s pretty clear where the disagreement between you and Roger lies – Roger believes that there are some set of circumstances where we can end up with diverse sources of energy that are cheaper than carbon-based sources in the near term. You don’t. And since in my reading, I don’t actually see any of the current technologies that look to be competitive without large subsidies, I’d say that you have the argument.

    Promises of alternate energy that are cheaper that carbon-based ones so far have required voluminous amounts of magic pixie dust, which, sadly, is in very short supply.

  223. Carrick said

    CatCracker, another way to look at US imports:

    CANADA	1,882	2,051	1,882	1,946	1,946
    MEXICO	1,033	1,063	1,033	1,299	1,299
    NIGERIA	996	1,020	996	488	488
    SAUDI ARABIA	958	886	958	1,337	1,337
    VENEZUELA	827	772	827	1,172	1,172
    

    Both Saudi Arabia and Venezuela are totalitarian states that depend on oil revenues to prop up their regimes, with Saudi Arabia being the number exporter of oil in the world of course.

    Even if you believe AGW and want to reduce our carbon footprint, replacing Middle east oil with US oil is effective since the carbon footprint associated with shipping is significantly reduced. The impact on jobs and revenue would be significant to our treasury.

    This is something I can get behind too. But if you take Saudi Arabia in particular, only 20% of their crude oil exports go to the US (and by revenue, it is certainly less than 20% from the US). Reducing our dependence doesn’t solve all of the problem. The solution involves factoring in where they sit in the world political stage, and the influence that they and other Middle Eastern players are having on world security.

  224. Carrick said

    SBVOR:

    1) Your opening move was CLEARLY intended to fabricate a moral equivalence between direct subsidies for alternative energy and what is falsely characterized as direct subsidies to the hydrocarbon sector. If you were honest, you would admit that.

    What is clear is 1) you suck as a mind reader (Jeff tried warning you how far off track you were), 2) you suck as a debater (you spend the whole time flinging invectives and ad hominems and spend very little time on substance, not a sign of ability or intelligence) and 3) you have really have no idea what the original purpose of my comments were, since I never explained them. Though I would have to somebody capable of civil discourse (obviously not you). 4) If you were “honest” you’d stop calling everybody you disagree with a “bald faced liar.” 5) In the process, you have completely and utterly misrepresented what I said earlier, to the point of completely fabricating things that you claim I said.

    If you had a shred of honor you would admit to your errors instead of doubling down on the ad hominems and insults.

  225. Catcracking said

    Carrick, “Cat, SBVOR didn’t point out “my” claims, he pasted claims from a document I linked ..”
    Sorry, My error in referring to these as “your” claims since you linked to them.

    “Try this again. Caveat emptor on that one..”

    I looked at that site and since there is no back up on the claims, your Caveat emptor is in order. The numbers are suspicious and fail to consider that fossil fuels comprise 1000 times the energy provided by ethanol.
    One thing is clear, unless there is an agreed to definition of subsidy, and the backup is clearly spelled out, any numbers one finds from a particular site may be deceptive. For example the 52 cents/gal subsidy for ethanol is paid to the blenders not to the ethanol manufacturers but benefits the manufacturers. Where did they apply that subsidy?
    The ethanol subsidy looks suspicious based on the following info for one year;
    “Corn ethanol subsidies totaled $7.0 billion in 2006 for 4.9 billion gallons of ethanol. That’s $1.45 per gallon of ethanol.”

    Another common claim is that the royality reduction established by the Clinton Administration for deep offshore exploration when the oil was $16/bbl is a subsidy. That is a signed contract based on the economics at the time of signing. Yet Pelosi calls it a subsidy. They still pay a royality, just less.

    Where we need to agree to disagree: (I don’t agree with SBVOR on everything, but do on many)
    1) The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program: This is a subsidy to the consumer, not the industry
    2) Strategic Petroleum Reserve not a form of subsidization? No it is only required if the gov policy refuses to develop our own oil security and continues to follow a policy that makes us dependent on foreign oil. However it provides price stability. Surely you don’t believe that ethanol or biofuels will replace oil any time in the near future and do away with a strategic reserve?
    3)Black Lung Disability Trust Fund: I don’t know much about this except that one URL indicated that “The Trust Fund draws its principal revenue from excise taxes on coal.” If that is correct, I do not consider this as a subsidy since it is funded by the industry.
    4) Highway Trust Fund: I have no problems with the initial concept to build the interstate highways. I do not consider this as a subsidy since it is mostly a user pays tax until we get electric auto’s. Since the Interstate system is finished, I would like to shut it down and turn the responsibility over to the states and get our corrupt congress out of our lives (having them decide which projects to fund and which buddies to reward). Unfortunately congress also uses this as a weapon to whip states into line. Let the States collect the $$ and make the decisions.
    5) Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve – I agree more unnecessary and counterproductive government meddling in the private sector under the false guise of protecting the consumer. I don’t see how this subsidizes the industry. I don’t know if the industry is forced to contribute.

    I agree with your position of not subsidizing energy except for R&D programs. Since You and I disagree on what is considered a subsidy for fossil fuels, I apparently mistook your comments re subsidies for fossil fuels as justifying comparable subsidies for windmills, solar, etc. Since there is no way we can resolve our difference in interpretation of what is a subsidy for fossil fuels, we can only agree to disagree.

  226. Carrick said

    Catcracker, you are viewing of it from the position of the industry. I am viewing it from its influence on the consumer’s choices. These are not mutually incompatible, just being different perspectives, which necessarily lead to different conclusions.

    My general political viewpoint is that government interference in the market creates market distortions that “load the dice” for the existing big industries (usually at the expense of the consumer and the small and generally much more productive businesses). One version of the Golden Rule is “Those with the Gold Make the Rules,” and this certain apply to fossil fuel companies as much as any other industry when it comes time to set up favorable legislation that locks any potential competitor out of the marketplace.

    Going further into this is exceedingly negative, but you basically only have to look at the relationship between people who work in government who are “ringers” for various industry with the full knowledge when they leave for industry they have a job waiting to realize there’s a huge issue with influence pedaling going on.

  227. DeWitt Payne said

    There’s a new book out on energy, decarbonization and alternative fuels: Power Hungry: The Myths of “Green” Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future

    It’s reviewed in today’s Wall Street Journal.

    I think the author may be a little too sanguine about the near future availability of fossil energy. But that opinion is based on the review, not the book itself. A substantial part of the book is devoted to wind power and how it does and doesn’t (mostly) work.

  228. SBVOR said

    Carrick April 27, 2010 at 1:07 am,

    Pot, meet kettle.

    The facts speak for themselves.

  229. Thoughtful Tom said

    #222
    You are sadly mistaken. Failure to understand where your opponents have valid points tends to discredit your arguments.

    For viable, un-subsidized renewable energy, consider ground source heat pumps (60-75% fossil fuel reductions)

    Solar thermal (75% fossil fuel reduction)

    These are now economically viable (under 10 years) vs propane and electricity.

    Now my customers are smart enough to take advantage of incentives offered by various parties, but the technology makes sense without the incentives.

    Those who ignore these technologies are just paying for fuel for no reason, and of course, heating the planet in the process (as Jeff ID has documented consistently up until today’s post).

  230. DeWitt Payne said

    Re: Thoughtful Tom (Apr 27 14:18),

    A heat pump with a buried closed loop heat exchanger is indeed more efficient than one that uses outside air — until the loop springs a leak. My son-in-laws’ grandparents lived in a house on river front property which had a custom made heat pump that used river water as the heat source/sink. It also heated the swimming pool. It worked great when it worked. It also leaked like a sieve on occasion. I’m sure that a solar thermal water heater supplemented with a heat pump would be very efficient — if you can afford the initial capital investment and the increased maintenance costs. There’s a reason that heat pumps use air heat exchangers: they’re simple, cheap and require minimal maintenance. If they break, they’re easily replaced.

    As far as increased efficiency being a solution to AGW, it’s not. Conservation by increased efficiency is a delaying action at best. Keeping emissions constant or even reducing them somewhat on a per capita basis won’t give you 80% cuts in CO2 emissions by 2050. PV solar and wind plus biomass can’t do it either. I have serious doubts it can be done at all, even if I thought it was necessary. We know how we could do it in the US: build 1,000 1GW nuclear power plants. But we don’t have either the political will or the manufacturing capacity to do it on that time scale.

  231. Brian H said

    DeWitt, @230;
    How about 1000s of (stackable) 5MW fusion mini-reactors? At 1/20 – 1/10 of current best costing? Follow focusfusion.org for the next couple of years. If it works out as I hope, every one of the issues discussed here will be moot.

  232. Thoughtful Tom said

    #230
    Sad to think we will not attempt the task because it will be hard (which often looks like “impossible” – not to get to maudlin but the Revolutionary war was the first of many times Americans have taken on the impossible.

    It starts, by well, starting.

    I’ve never had a ground source heat pump spring a leak – that would suck. I prefer horizontal ground coupled, vs vertical or water based – I always look at long term (and short term) maintenance when I design and install systems.

  233. DeWitt Payne said

    Re: Brian H (Apr 27 17:29),

    I’m not holding my breath on that one either. H + 11B fusion is problematic. It requires a much higher temperature than D + D or D + T fusion. It does have the advantage that it mostly produces charged particles with only a relatively few neutrons. Maybe the Navy will save us all in the end by funding polywell fusion research, but I wouldn’t invest any of my own money.

  234. DeWitt Payne said

    Re: Thoughtful Tom (Apr 27 17:45),

    I prefer horizontal ground coupled, vs vertical or water based – I always look at long term (and short term) maintenance when I design and install systems.

    Way OT, but I’m curious. So what do you do about corrosion both internal and external? Or do you use something other than water as the heat exchanger fluid? A buried metal pipe is going to corrode eventually without some form of protection. How deep do you have to bury the pipe? Would the frost line be a problem in the North?

  235. cohenite said

    I find any discussion about renewables. wind, solar, hot rocks, tidal, yadda yadda so remniscent of the survivalists’ jargon; most of the renewable context seems to be defined by either the individualistic types that I spoke about earlier or by Pro-AGWers who are either genuinely informed by the gaia tripe or financial cuckoos who have learned the AGW hype, infiltrated the gaia fortress and are going to push some dud, clean-green, sustainable energy source; there are plenty of examples of the 2 types.

    Some of the work done on solar is interesting but mostly it’s all a bad joke, at the taxpayers’ expense; and that includes any debate about carbonisation with or without a ‘de’ in front of it.

    The only alternative to coal and oil is CSG and nuclear; in that respect this is instructive:

    http://batr.net/cohoctonwindwatch/LAMAR%20ALEXANDER%20on%20NUCLELAR%20vs%20WIND.pdf

  236. Tim said

    #235 – cohenite

    That document has to be the most depressing thing I have read in awhile. Environmentalists and their lawyers are killing the US.

  237. Thoughtful Tom said

    Way OT, but I’m curious. So what do you do about corrosion both internal and external? Or do you use something other than water as the heat exchanger fluid? A buried metal pipe is going to corrode eventually without some form of protection. How deep do you have to bury the pipe? Would the frost line be a problem in the North?

    This thread has been pretty well completely hijacked. Fused HDPE is what we use for the field – non corrosive material. Glycol for the heat X fluid (I would prefer water, but we can’t guarantee the loop won’t drop below freezing).

    6′ is the minimum depth. I prefer 10′. This is true in Northern climates as well (always below the frost line).

  238. Brian H said

    DeWitt, #233;
    The “temperature” is actually a level of electron voltage in the fusion locus. With FF, that locus is tiny, and the temperatures are now evidently well within reach. Did you look at the site and any of the background data and current results?

    Anyway, “holding your breath” wasn’t my suggestion! Watching it for a couple of years was. I think you’ll be very surprised.

  239. DeWitt Payne said

    Re: Thoughtful Tom (Apr 27 22:49),

    Fused HDPE is what we use for the field – non corrosive material.

    How much longer does that make your field bed compared to copper pipe? Or is the thermal conductivity of soil low enough that it doesn’t make a difference. HDPE should last a very long time underground. I vaguely remember something about bacteria that could eat LDPE, but HDPE would be much more difficult to metabolize. Are you using propylene glycol rather than ethylene? IIRC, the trade-off between heat capacity and freezing point for cars is between 1:1 and 2:1 glycol:water, although cars have to worry about boiling point as well.

  240. DeWitt Payne said

    Re: Brian H (Apr 27 23:50),

    I think you’ll be very surprised.

    I hope it’s a pleasant surprise. But the fact that the general plasma physics community isn’t very excited about this makes me wonder how much is hype and how much is real. Obviously, the proponents are going to cast everything in the best possible light so I tend to take their pronouncements with much salt. Or, in other words, I’m a skeptic.

  241. Brian H said

    DeWitt;
    Yes, although you’ll find far less skepticism amongst those who actually are doing DPF research in general.

    The crucial sticking point seems to be the assertion that there is a usable “notch” in the quantum energy regimes in this plasma where bremsstrahlung X-ray cooling is minimized.

    From the patent detail:

    Description of high magnetic field effect. The higher atomic change, Z, of B11 greatly increases the x-ray emission rate, which is proportional to Z.sup.2 making it difficult to achieve ignition, e.g., the point at which the thermonuclear power exceeds the x-ray emission. The present invention overcomes these difficulties using a detailed quantitative theory of the plasma focus, described below, and the high magnetic field effect (HMFE). This effect, first pointed out by McNally, involves the reduction of energy transfer from the ions to the electrons in the presence of a strong magnetic field. This in turn reduces the electron temperature and thus the bremsstrahlung emission.

    This is the key information which I think “most plasma physicists” have not looked at or taken on board.

  242. Brian H said

    Hm, seem to have mishandled the blockquote HTML above. The final sentence is mine, not part of the quote.

  243. Catcracking said

    #235
    The Link discussing the loss of USA technology capabilities comes as no surprise to me.
    Quite a few years ago I was involved in large, heavy, thick wall reactors (up to 12″ thick Chrome moly steel) for the refining business. Many of the the fabrication shops we used in the US were the same shops that built the Nuclear reactors. The US was the King of this technology ensuring safety including the rolling and welding of special thick steel plates.
    Also the ASME pressure vessel codes wrote the book on the Design, inspection and quality control for the reactors including the Nuclear.

    That capability has been totally lost and anyone who needs to buy a heavy wall vessel needs to go overseas.

    Thanks to the environmental movement, we are no longer a player.

  244. Don Shaw said

    Thoughtful Tom

    I thought some if these geothermal systems go down into the water table to get better heat transfer. Is that correct?

  245. Thoughtful Tom said

    Regarding geothermal – 1)the less glycol the better (any amount degrades heat transfer as compared to straight water). We calculate the minimum temperature, give ourselves a safety margin and put the correct ratio to protect from that cold temp.

    2) Which is longer – copper or HDPE – HDPE (be a great place to say “by a mile” – but the truth is, I don’t know exactly how much- I joined the industry after HDPE was the standard – I am just a cog in the wheel). I suspect the ground’s ability to move heat to/from the pipe is the limiting factor, not the heat transfer ability of the pipe to the ground. But that is guess on my part.

    I thought solar thermal was the most efficient (and there are arguments that it is, if you care about that quaint notion of CO2 reduction – due to the higher CO2 density of coal (for electrons) vs natural gas). I’ve only recently started to work with ground source heat pumps. I’m intrigued by combining the two (sometimes called geosolar, but precious little data on what that does to the COP).

    BTW – if you did want to heat your home with no carbon emissions the easiest way is to build it so it doesn’t need heat. Slight more complicated, you could do an active ground loading/passive recovery system.

    Then (and this is the “American style” to my way of thinking) you could do active ground loading, active recovery (ie solar thermal to put it in the ground, GSHP to pull it out, and power the GSHP with solar PV (grid tied, as you would need to “bank” summer electrons for winter use, so still not perfect, but getting awfully close to a zero net carbon model that could be bolted on to any existing home (with a few $$ – although over time the systems do pay for themselves, unlike many other things we spend money on)).

    3) Loops in water – this is done where the water is available. I think the trade off is a lower average temperature (compared to the average ground temp) – but better heat transfer (heat moves slowly through soil (rule of thumb (anyone who knows more about this I would be grateful) is 1′ /month). So you can theoretically overwhelm the local soil with your current season. But the water takes whatever heat or cold you are dissipating and moves it along (or dissipates it into the surrounding water in the case of a lake). And it is cheaper to put loops in water then to bore or dig a trench (assuming you aren’t fighting currents or waves).

    [And note that we size loop lengths to avoid seasonal overload - thus the use of "theoretically" above]

  246. DeWitt Payne said

    Re: Thoughtful Tom (Apr 29 02:36),

    Interesting. Thanks for the information.

    As far as going off the grid, what little I’ve read suggests that air conditioning is not possible with current technology. There’s just too much power drain during those periods when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining. But staying connected to the grid and selling excess power back to the local utility company at retail price isn’t very fair to the rest of the rate payers either, not to mention the nightmare of grid control if it represents more than a few percent of total generating capacity.

  247. Thoughtful Tom said

    As far as going off the grid, what little I’ve read suggests that air conditioning is not possible with current technology. There’s just too much power drain during those periods when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining. But staying connected to the grid and selling excess power back to the local utility company at retail price isn’t very fair to the rest of the rate payers either, not to mention the nightmare of grid control if it represents more than a few percent of total generating capacity.

    It starts with house design. Design it right and you don’t need much heat/cool in the first place. Look at passive house (Germany, also a US group working on this). Research PAHS in this country. Pretty much anywhere in the lower 48 you can get your conditioning load down to a renewables-manageable load.

    As for the PV supply management – this is the stated position of most utilities. However, our local monopoly, APS is creating a 30% renewable supply off of one switching station to prove that is false.

    I always bristle at the “can’t be done” crowd, especially when it is convenient to their politics. It can be done. The question is whether it should be done. Some pieces of the puzzle aren’t there yet, but a country that succeeded with the Manhattan project can surely accomplish renewable energy – and save money and lives in the process.

  248. Thoughtful Tom said

    Grr. Sorry.

    “APS is creating a 30% renewable supply off of one switching station to prove that is false.”

    Should be “APS is creating a 30% renewable supply off of one of their substation to prove that is false.”

    Too much time in telcom.

  249. DeWitt Payne said

    Re: Thoughtful Tom (Apr 29 12:05),

    The Manhattan Project was trivial by comparison. The scale was miniscule for one thing.

    As long as you’re forcing the utility to buy your power at retail, you’re being subsidized by the rest of the rate payers. They should pay you the same rate as it costs them to generate or buy power at wholesale (and you should pay tax on that income) and charge you the same price for the power you use as they charge the rest of the rate payers. Government subsidy of your capital investment only makes the situation even more unfair. It’s like the first people to invest in a Ponzi scheme. The make out like bandits while the rest lose their shirts.

  250. Brian H said

    For homes that require very little heating or cooling, check out the “Dome of a Home” designs. Also hurricane and tornado proof, at a fraction of normal construction costs.

  251. schnoerkelman said

    One thing that could easily be done is what the UK did — replace coal fired power generation with gas generation. This reduced the carbon output substantially without requiring any magical new technology.

    One thing that the Evil Government should properly address is setting standards so that nuclear facilities could be more rationally built and operated. This is also an exiting technology that could substantially replace coal based baseline generation.

    To the subject of the thread, Pielke Jr’s response to the question

    Can you imagine any discoveries or conclusions in climate science would indicate that accelerated decarbonization of the global economy does not make sense?

    Answer: No

    I would like to suggest that a careful reading of the question leaves “no” as the only appropriate answer. Which discoveries do you think will be made that will cause decarbonisation not to make sense? The question does not mention methods, technologies, time frames nor government intervention but rather the simple question of whether decarbonisation is sensible. The answer to that question, I believe, is clearly that it is.

  252. Brian H said

    Schnoerkelman;
    Let me make this very simple. There are two discoveries that would (IMO, already have) demonstrate that the answer is “yes”.
    1) The effects of decarbonization on actual atmospheric content turn out to be trivial;
    2) The influence of CO2 on global temperature turns out to be trivial.

    Either or both make spending ANY money on decarbonization (for its own sake) pointless, even foolish.
    For good measure, here’s a third possibility:
    3) increases of CO2 content in the atmosphere turn out to be beneficial.

    In the latter case, decarbonization is actually inane.

    Which is biologically almost certainly the case.

  253. Thoughtful Tom said

    As long as you’re forcing the utility to buy your power at retail, you’re being subsidized by the rest of the rate payers. They should pay you the same rate as it costs them to generate or buy power at wholesale (and you should pay tax on that income) and charge you the same price for the power you use as they charge the rest of the rate payers. Government subsidy of your capital investment only makes the situation even more unfair. It’s like the first people to invest in a Ponzi scheme. The make out like bandits while the rest lose their shirts.

    You are apparently upset that early adopters getting incentives. For the record, I would like to be one of the early adopters. But the engineer in me wouldn’t let me pursue the less efficient solar strategy (PV). I put all my eggs in solar thermal (working great, thanks).

    However I don’t think it is that evil – I am a huge fan of distributed energy – it is the ultimate protection from terrorist attacks on our energy supply. And I have enough of the survivalist in me that I enjoy the idea of having my heating, electricity and water all locally available (this is the 10 year plan).

    University faculty used to get the Internet for “free.” But they also proved out the concepts and now I consider my monthly internet bill my best investment. And I am happy to part with my money for Motorola and Linksys routers and gateways.

    So there are cases of government incentives and seed money creating something that benefits all of us (er, just ask ALGORE).

  254. Brian H said

    Green incentives to “early adopters” are proving to be the sole basis for installation in Germany, etc. Pulling the plug on that huge outlay is now expected to decimate, or even wipe out, the supply and demand chains. Both the hardware and the subsidy programs are destined for a long, declining existence as white elephants. Because they are not and cannot be made to be competitive and reliable for other than niche applications.

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