Climate clippings 8

These posts include a brief mention of a number of news items relating to climate change. They don’t preclude treating any of these topics at more length in a separate post.

They can also serve as an open thread so that we can keep each other informed on important climate news.

California approves first broad US climate plan

California has approved “the most sweeping US plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions”.

It includes a cap-and-trade plan:

Initially, California will technically not restrict emissions but instead freely allocate “allowances” to businesses covering their carbon output. The state will gradually reduce allowances, forcing firms to go green.

Companies can also earn credit by supporting environmental projects in forests or farms, including through preservation of woods in Mexico’s Chiapas state and Brazil’s Acre state.

Not everyone is happy, as the scheme could involve clear-felling to plant trees.

There’s more at Climate Progress.

Meanwhile over in Washington

…the GOP have set up a new sandpit for John Shimkus to play in. Shimkus has been appointed head of the new Environment and Economy Subcommittee.

Shimkus believes that carbon dioxide is not harmful to the environment and that man-made climate change isn’t real because “the earth will end only when God declares it’s time to be over. Man will not destroy this earth.”

And a quote from Genesis says that God would never do it.

OMG!

By the way, we breathe out CO2 so it’s got to be good. OK?

The GOP plans to kill clean air regulations

By defunding the EPA.

They’d do it in a heart beat.

Fox News policy to favour climate change scepticism

As a matter of editorial policy Fox News journalists were instructed to favour climate change scepticism, a leaked email shows.

Journalists at Fox News were under orders to cast doubt on any on-air mention of climate change, a leaked email obtained by a media monitoring group revealed today.

The email, sent out during the Copenhagen conference reads:

“We should refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question.”

It’s not their job as journalists, they say, to sort out the science, but it is their job to ensure that confusion reigns supreme.

Climate scientists have had enough and are speaking out.

Climatologists, like other scientists, tend to be a stolid group. We are not given to theatrical rantings about falling skies. Most of us are far more comfortable in our laboratories or gathering data in the field than we are giving interviews to journalists or speaking before Congressional committees. Why then are climatologists speaking out about the dangers of global warming? The answer is that virtually all of us are now convinced that global warming poses a clear and present danger to civilization. (Emphasis added)

That’s according to famous glaciologist Lonnie Thompson.

There are three options, “mitigation, adaptation, and suffering.” We are getting to the stage where no matter what we do on the first two there will be a measure of the third.

Climate Progress recommends Thompson’s Climate Change: The Evidence and Our Options as a must-read paper.

Australia’s renewable roadblocks

Giles Parkinson at Climate Spectator has a look at where we are at with renewable energy.

Private investment in renewable projects (not including small-scale) nearly tripled in the 2009/10 fiscal year, to just short of $1.8 billion. But the news is not all good. While solar PV and wind boomed, the latter five-fold, other forms where we have a natural advantage have languished:

According to the CEC report, only $38 million in new investment was put into the geothermal, wave and large scale solar industries in fiscal 2009/10. These are not the sort of sums that will drive investment in technologies crucial for a low emissions future. Geothermal spending slumped by 75 per cent, large-scale solar fell by more than 50 per cent, and wave was down by 40 per cent.

Seems we are hanging about waiting for a price on carbon and the market to fix it, against the advice of Ross Garnaut.

Thanks to John D for the heads-up.

New Zealand discover the moving image (not quite yet)

Via Skeptical Science we have The Climate Show #4 featuring Peter Glieck on the American Geophysical Union conference and John Cook on climate sensitivity.

For production values this show would struggle to score one out of 10. In over 86 minutes there is about 2 minutes that makes any use of the video format. As audio it is particularly unscripted and loose, with less than half an hours worth of content. For much of the time they don’t make it to the talking head stage. The first 25 minutes is almost a complete waste of time. At least the dog didn’t bark during filming this time.

On climate sensitivity (temperature rise from a doubling of CO2) we were told that the temperature rose 5C from the last glacial maximum to the present interglacial while CO2 rose from 180 to 280. Hence climate sensitivity was demonstrated to be 3C.

That’s what we were told.

Like the radio, you can have it on in the background without missing anything of importance visually.

The Scientific Guide to Global Warming Skepticism

One of the really useful segments on the above-mentioned Climate Show was their promotion of Skeptical Science’s attractive, well-organised and well-illustrated pamphlet The Scientific Guide to Global Warming Skepticism. It addresses in admirably clear terms the main chestnuts thrown up by the usual suspects.

A (half) cure for burping cows and sheep

They tried garlic, which was a disaster. Now they’ve found that nitrate and sulphate additives reduce methane production in cows and sheep by up to half.

Experimentally, that is. Right now there is no economic incentive for farmers to do anything about it. That will have to change.

22 thoughts on “Climate clippings 8”

  1. John Shimkus is quoted as saying that because humans,

    ‘breath out carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is not a toxic emittent’.

    A good test of that line of reasoning would be for John Shimkus to eat sh*t and die/not die.

  2. Emittent is an adjective rather than the noun, which is emission. One could speak of emittent gases but even here, emissive is more common.

    Shimkus is pretending to be erudite and showing he isn’t.

    Of course, while the scope of the word toxic is usually limited to organisms, if one sees the entire biosphere as having the properties of an organism — it is after all a dynamic system i which living an inert things modify each other, much as is the case with organisms — then anything introduced into that system which might cause the equivalent of necrosis could be seen as toxic. There can be no doubt that excess CO2 does have this effect, so even at this level, Shimkus is wrong.

  3. Don’t dismiss the work that has shown a reduction in methane production by 50%- the thread on clean coal/carbon capture by comparison looks much more problematic.
    If you give farmers new way to make money just stand back as they rush to try out how to make the most.

  4. Murf @ 4, if there is a technical fix for methane from ruminants it’s got to be good news. I wonder whether it is one of those instances where the main export countries, say the EU, the US, Brazil, Argentina, Australia and NZ could negotiate a price on ruminant methane emissions simultaneously.

  5. The take away thoughts here are

    “global warming poses a clear and present danger to civilization”

    “suffering”

    Another thought to ponder is,…

    hands up anyone who is paying more for electricity…is that increase at least 4 cents per unit of electricity?….
    so the thing here is that for every 4 cents per unit increase the electricity industry receives $10 BILLION dollars additional income. (260 billion units annual consumption times $.04 = $10.4 billion)

    What you really…really…want to know is what are they doing with their….our…money. We know part of the story..now.., they have just bought a chunk of NSW power generation infrastructure. That is they’ve taken a fistful of your money and mine and bought the infrastructure that we used to own, for a bargain price.

    What are the implications of this cosy deal which no one knew anything about until it was done. If the game plan here is to offload a redundant asset then this might be perceived as a good thing. I doubt that is what will be the outcome. For starters coal generation has at least another 20 years of reliable income even if global warming action was proceeding at breakneck pace, but the way that the Australian government is moving on global warming then it has at least a hundred more years of secure income. What I think the real dirty deal here is that Kristina Kenneally must be a closet climate change denialist who has now hand to the most self interested antiglobal warming action industry the mechanism to both obstruct climate change action along with the money to lobby endlessly to achieve total environmental action paralysis.

    So if every country in the world took Australia’s lead, then the only future outcome will be

    “suffering.”

  6. And here’s a new angle: Who knew that hypnosis could be used to combat climate change? 😉

    I think it’s awesome that the chap involved here runs a cobblers shop. In the story on the radio, he was apparently shocked as his employees wandered outside without shirts in the cold.

    Now if he could only hypnotise them into thinking their wages and working conditions were too generous …

  7. If you had watched the ABC 4 Corners documentary, ‘The Greenhouse Mafia’ or read Clive Hamilton’s ‘Requiem for a Species’ or Guy Pearse’s ‘High & Dry’, you would know that ever since Howard facilitated this corruption, our govts policies (State and Federal) have been controlled by the lobbyists of industries whose profits are affected by the price of products from our fossil fuel industries – coal, oil and electricity.

    Yet this is the elephant in the room that neither mainstream media nor the politicians will even discuss or admit to. It’s a taboo subject. And if leaders like Rudd and Turnbull try to change that, they quickly lose their positions.

    So Australia will continue to pretend, via Combet, to ‘seriously’ reduce our emissions, while actually doing nothing.

    That is until, as Nicholas Stern suggested recently, international sanctions will be applies against Australia.

    At that point, the required changes to our energy supply systems will have to applied very quickly, so that the resulting pain and loss of jobs that could have been spread and adjusted for over many years, will be experienced as power shortages, interuptions, probably rationing and very rapidly escalating prices.

    Until around 80% of the population understands this and demands action from our politicians, nothing will change.

    Mainstream media with ‘Fox’ like policies, will continue to ensure that such an understanding is denied the Australian people.

  8. For all of those people who choose to obfuscate with the “natural forcing” fantasy, take a few minutes to ponder the graph here particularly the gradient of the curve

    http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2010/12/22/science/earth/22carbon-graphic.html?ref=earth

    Why is the gradient important? it talks about the rate of change against time. Notice that the gradient is vertical ie massive change in no time at all.

    and here is a little background to CO2 monitoring in Hawaii

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/22/science/earth/22carbon.html?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=a2

  9. Chris Sanderson @ 8, clicking on your name takes one to an interesting place.

    We can only hope the Greens insist on something better than tokenism.

    BilB @ 9, it’s good that the NYT is printing some useful information at last.

  10. John D @ 10, it’s passing strange that whenever humans set up a market for carbon they end up picking winners and losers. I imagine you are not surprised!

  11. Part of the problem Brian is the winners tend to be those that can afford expensive lobbyists or who share interests with a significant number of voters. We saw this very clearly in the development of the CPRS.
    One other problem is that broad based market approaches can unwittingly create “unproductive losers” – Losers that have their costs increased without producing a strong enough price message to drive any action. These can include cases for which it makes commercial sense to pay the price and do nothing. It can also include cases where the cost is so small that it is simply not worth worrying about. (Think about putting on a jumper and turning off the heater.)

    It is also worth thinking about what will actually change as a result of a carbon price. The ABS had this to say:

    Different sectors of the economy, and human activities, contribute to the release and capture of greenhouse gas emissions, and the removal of such emissions in different ways and by various amounts. Of the various sectors, the energy sector produces the majority of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for about three-quarters (76%) of net emissions in 2008 (DCCEE 2010b).

    Emissions from the energy sector increased by 44% between 1990 and 2008. Greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector correlate with economic activity and are largely driven by population growth, economic growth and increased household income.

    Within the energy sector, energy industries was the largest source of emissions (54%) relating to the combustion of fossil fuels, followed by transport activity (19%). Transport contributed 80.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent gas or 15% of Australia’s net emissions in 2008. Emissions from the transport industry were 29% higher in 2008 than in 1990 (DCCEE 2010b). Road transport was the main source of transport emissions in 2008, accounting for 69.2 million tonnes, or 13% of national emissions. Passenger cars were the largest transport source, contributing 41.6 million tonnes (DCCEE 2010a).

    The agriculture sector was the next largest contributor to Australia’s net greenhouse gas emissions. Agriculture produces most of Australia’s methane and nitrous oxide emissions. The agriculture sector emitted 58% and 76% of Australia’s methane and nitrous oxide emissions, respectively, in 2008 (DCCEE 2010b).

    (The energy sector produced about 410mt of CO2 equivalent in 2008.)
    It is worth asking what, apart from power generation a carbon price is going to affect.

  12. Interesting one Bilb. There is an argument for making us more independent here as well. Solar PV that still feeds power to the home when the grid crashes. Gear that runs off solar PV DC direct. Production of food in/near the home etc.
    Interesting too as a demonstration of how demand for something (phone charging) makes available power for lighting etc.
    Interesting too as a demonstration of how solar PV drives the adoption of ultra efficient LED lighting while those of us sucking on the grid stay with inefficient technology.

  13. Totally agree, John D.

    Distributed power is the future. And not just as an assistant to grid power. My partner an I have been over and over the viability of the GenIIPV system that we are putting together and the basis of it is so strong that we see this configuration as being the energy system of the future, totally achieveable today. So we have decided to seek partnership in the concept from Europe in the new year, as only Europe has shown any real understanding of the nature of the challenge ahead along with demonstrating determination to react appropriately. Based on a watts per meter per year map published by the US DOE GenIIPV will produce 12 thousand kwhrs per year in Alaska (snow cover aside), 16 thousand in New York and 18.5 to 19 thousand in California. This makes the system truly viable for Germany as high as Berlin and a complete solution for all of Southern Europe. That is a very large population to service. So GenIIPV in partnership with Hybride storage CSP offers a 95% solution to CO2 emissions from stationary energy and personal transport. And in the so doing completely alters the investment platform required to achieve the change in a short period of time.

    I say this by way of expressing that there is a solution to the problem which completely bypasses the intransigence of government and the blocking tactics of established energy industry vested interests. And, further, requires no participation from government or carbon tax assistance, although the higher the cost of energy the greater the uptake rate will be.

    Having indicated that I believe that there is a solution, I firmly believe that we are now too late to avoid a 4 degree C world. The process of change now has far too much impetus to be slowed in time to avoid total melt of the Arctic, and all of the other consequences arising from that. It is obvious from Labour press releases that they are committed to adaption rather than mitigation, and are secretly are preparing for a nuclear industry for Australia believing that this will save the day. Our legal industry based national decision makers are clearly totally underknowledged to make appropriate decisions required to for the coming torrent of change.

  14. Bilb: One of my favourite books is “Camels of the Outback.” Written by a man who operated a camel wagon in the Pilbara at the stage where camel and horse transport was being replaced by motor transport. There are lots of wise gems including one that went something like: “In the beginning we complained that cars were not being designed to match the tracks of the camel wagons. In the end we complained that camel wagons didn’t match the tracks of the cars.”
    At the moment solar PV has to fit in with the AC power distribution. So we have crazy things like systems that convert solar PV DC current into AC current to feed into the grid – then take AC power from the grid to convert into DC power to charge my computer batteries.
    We may get to the house is designed to make direct use of the DC power from the panels and grid power is converted to DC if and when it is needed.
    What electrical systems would you use in a house if you were starting from scratch with solar panels?
    Link for GenIIPV?

  15. Good question John D. I don’t know the answer. My partner would. The fact at the moment is that every houshold appliance is designed for 240 volt AC so that is the answer. There are good reasons for 240 volt AC. But there are good reasons for other voltages as well. New car systems are prefering 50volt DC. 50 volt is the upper edge of safe voltages. Then DC low voltage carries current problems. Any short circuit carries a higher risk of fire. The reality is that it does not matter, I suspect. No matter what system on uses there will be voltage realignment required. On issue that we are considering is that as extreme weather intensifies the highly sequential electronics component industry might become unstable so we are keeping in mind the possible need for our system to be substantially non electronic. Which would mean apart from the solar chips the system would be managed by basic electrical circuits (remember electrical circuits) and conversion done with motor generators, in that eventuality.

    GenIIPV is not visible yet. I talk about it to guage the reaction, and to indicate to those who should be sensitive to these issues that there is a workable alternative solution that needs to be evaluated form an economic impact point of view. Frankly from a reaction point of view you are only the third person who has bothered to register genuine interest. And this tells me that there are very few people who really attempt to understand the substance of what is going on around them. There are only a handfull of people that I know who can understand these concepts from a few words. My business partner is one, Germany’s Franz Trieb is another. We will be working on this project heavily this year but it crosses a few disciplines so will take a little while and cost several million dollars to achieve the initial full working design, though the proof of concept will cost much less.

  16. Bilb: I tend to see solar PV through the eyes of a process engineer. A process engineer who learned some things about electrical engineering while convincing control engineers that they actually could what I wanted to help something run better. However, I have no real feel for the details or how costs are distributed, the benefits of scale or the details of modern DC circuits.
    My take on rooftop solar is that it is still locked into a model that assumes that individual eccentrics will buy a small unit for their roof. It also assumes that the power will be used in houses that are designed for DC.
    Perhaps we should think about other models. For example, it may sense for power companies to lease rooftops, maximize the size of the installation per roof and link the DC produced from a number of roof tops to a shared processor that can feed into the grid and possibly feed back into houses during blackouts. But I may be missing something. At least the poor in unleafy suburbs may get some income out of solar PV instead of it being a source of pork for the better off.

  17. Forget about convention PV JohnD, that is not what GenIIPV is about. That is why I dubbed it generation 2 photovoltaic. If you research this from an innovators perspective you might figure it out. About 5 years ago I started to think out a solution for domestic energy systems and developed a solution that resolved most problems but it fell short of an efficient energy conversion kernel. That came much later but the earlier work defined the architectural integration for what GenIIPV has become. This product will redefine future electricity generation systems, but it will not be the last. There will be other more advanced technologies that perform better again and in different ways, so by the time that GenIIPV is being installed in quantity there will be other options equally good.

    This system is the complete solution, you’ll just have to wait till we have done the proof of concept. But there is urgency so we are going to seek external involvement in Europe as I said. The truly delightful aspect of this product is that income does not matter, everyone can afford it without assistance or subsidies.

  18. Bilb: Await with interest. My wish list includes:
    1. Able to operate independently and connected to the grid.
    2. Swaps to independent during blackout.
    3. Manages and prioritizes power draw to maximize net income while on the grid and keeping priority items such as lighting and fridge going during blackout.
    4. More grid friendly by providing limited capacity for the grid to turn things on and off and adjust things like air conditioning temp.
    5. Potential for linking a number of houses together if this will reduce costs or provide other benefits.
    6. Justifiable for a house with an annual power bill of $800.

    To optimize the system there would be a need for innovation from the grid and equipment manufacturers. Using thermal inertia as well as electrical smarts may be part of the deal.

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