Climate clippings 65

I’m still stressing out over the project I’m working on and various health matters that are annoying, time-consuming but OK-ish. John D has helped as always, but don’t blame him for the fourth one, the one on Rupert’s WSJ.

Australian solar project to be the world’s tallest building

Hyperion solar chimney

Hyperion believes their so-called “solar updraft tower” would provide much needed power to mining operations in Western Australia, and could also connect to the grid. It hopes to go live by 2014. The company is currently seeking approval for the $1.7 billion plan.

Unlike many solar projects, this one would keep the generators humming day and night, as the ground continues to give off captured heat from dusk to dawn.

Outlook for electric cars

I’ve included this one because of the insights it gives to the views of various players on the outlook for electric cars v the continued use of oil.

BP expect expect 87% of transport fuel in 2030 will still be petroleum-based, with the remainder coming from biofuels, natural gas and electricity. This seems to be typical of oil companies.

Car makers are not much different:

A survey of 200 auto industry executives conducted by KPMG released earlier this month gave an average forecast for electric vehicles to account for 6-10 percent of global auto sales in 2025 – more bullish than Exxon and BP but hardly a revolution.

Some governments such as NZ and the UK are looking for much higher penetration, but not the US where electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids are expected to account for only 1.3% of the fleet in 2030.

The value of urban landscapes

From The Conversation, cross-posted at Climate Spectator, trees in the city are seen as major urban infrastructure assets.

Trees drop temperatures by up to 8°C, reducing air conditioner use by 12-15%. They reduce strong winds, remove air pollution and absorb water during intense rainfall events. Furthermore there are health effects:

Vegetated landscapes, especially those containing trees, improve human heath, extend life spans, reduce violence and vandalism, and lower blood pressure. Vegetation humidifies the air, easing breathing and reducing the need for medication in those with respiratory difficulties.

Black Saturday killed 172 people directly, but the heat wave surrounding it was responsible for a further 374 deaths.

Besides they look good and lift the spirits.

Rupert’s Wall Street Journal ramps up scepticism over climate change

Via The World Today we were told that the WSJ has just published an article warning presidential candidates not to panic about global warming. You see, it’s “a multidecade international campaign to enforce the message that increasing amounts of the “pollutant” carbon dioxide will destroy civilization”. Just follow the money trail. We’ve seen it all before. Scientists bucking the orthodoxy are treated like honest scientists were in the Soviet Union when Lysenko held sway.

John Quiggin in his column in the AFR reveals that the WSJ refused to publish a letter co-signed by 255 scientists and members of the US Academy of Sciences who support mainstream science.

Skeptical Science give a run down on the qualifications of the signatories and their publishing record.

Now the WSJ has published a rejoinder by some 38 climate scientists. One of them, Roger Jones, takes a look and provides some more links.

Quiggin suggests that Republican voters are looking for a candidate with attributes such as sanity and at least a minimal level of honesty. Problem is, he says, that such attributes in today’s Republican Party mean automatic disqualification.

Some ocean currents warm faster than others

Again from The World Today, scientists have studied five western ocean currents off the east coasts of Africa, Japan, the USA, Brazil and Australia to find that they have been warming two or three times faster than the rest of the world’s oceans.

They don’t yet understand the significance of what they’ve found, but the warmer currents are likely to affect the weather on adjacent land.

Learning from climate history

Professor Tony McMichael of the ANU has looked at climate change over 7000 years and related it to major civilisational events, like the decline of the Mayan empire, the Black Death and the Great Famine in medieval Europe, and the collapse of the Ming Dynasty. He finds climate change implicated.

Most of the shifts that have caused the increases in hunger and deaths or the outbreaks of infectious diseases or other stresses leading to conflict have been within a band of about plus or minus one degree centigrade.

If that is what happens with one degree, we should worry about the prospect of two, three or four degrees, he says.

NASA looks for greener aircraft

Leaner, greener flying machines for the year 2025 is what NASA is seeking. Specifically they want technology:

that would allow future aircraft to burn 50 percent less fuel than aircraft that entered service in 1998 (the baseline for the study), with 75 percent fewer harmful emissions; and to shrink the size of geographic areas affected by objectionable airport noise by 83 percent.

Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman have come up with designs that meet the second objective, go close on the first, but with varied outcomes on noise reduction.

Just shows what is possible if you seriously put the challenge out there.

Understanding climate effects on species

Huffington Post looks at a new study that adopts a different position on the effects of climate on species. The usual way is the “climate envelope” model:

which describes the temperature, humidity, precipitation and other climate variables characterizing the conditions under which a species is found. Once the climate envelope of a species or habitat has been modeled, you can then project where that climate envelope will exist under future climate scenarios, and you assume that is an approximation for where species will need to go to survive.

The new approach takes account of the reality that species will be brought into conflict and will interact in various ways. As far as I can see, this has even more dire implications for species extinction.

80 thoughts on “Climate clippings 65”

  1. The solar tower is intriguing. The concept has been around since the 19790’s as a possible response to the so-called oil-shock. The basic operating principle utilises the temperature differential that increases with height. So ground air, being relatively warmer than air at say, 1000 metres is drawn or forced upwards, generating the airflow that drives the turbines. The differential exists even at night, hence the ability to generate at least some power without sunshine.

    Hyperion have a good video on their website:
    The video gives some insight into the proposal and how it is surely a winner. But beyond the seductive tones of the narrator and good use of graphics it should be kept in mind that the technology is not mature in a proven sense.
    But the same might be said of Carnegie Wave technology which as far as I understand looks increasingly like being the first viable off-shore wave energy system in the world. See the Carnegie CETO system here:

    Maybe the solar funnel will also turn out to be viable – that would be nice. But at $1.7 billion one asks if other projects might have a better return with lower risk. And an issue not yet mentioned is what taxpayer contribution might be involved, both as incentive and if successful, what infrastructure might be needed to take advantage of the project.

    However apart from a few caveats it would be really great if the project goes ahead – NSW and Victorian governments take note.

  2. I really like this idea; as I understand it, the power is generated by wind turbines located around the central tower at ground level..
    Built in energy storage that uses the ground itself.
    There was an attempt to get one up near Mildura a few years ago.


  3. On Electric Vehicles.
    There is this great and amazing underground global movement to convert existing vehicles to electric, even in Brisbane there is furious activity. This movement is driven by petrol prices and enthusiasm.
    I have driven converted vehicles both here and overseas and I can attest that they are really great to drive.
    I think the conversion to EV will happen despite the car companies not because of them. Think Kodak.


  4. Brian, I’m sure I’m not alone in greatly appreciating the work you put into Climate Clippings, so I hope you are able to continue them. But please don’t overwork yourself on our accounts. Strict regularity of publication is not a priority, nor is catching every prominent development.

  5. Newcastle residents will nod sagely at the facts on the value of trees in urban landscapes. This week has seen the local Council chop 14 eighty year old figs from an urban CBD street where the shade was hugely appreciated by adjacent library and gallery visitors. The listed 12 – 15% saving on air conditioning would have been appreciated by Council too I suggest. But the public liability insurers prevailed in this case.
    The value of tree cover is so misunderstood. Go to an inland town and you will find a mature shady garden adds $10 – 20 000 to a property value – and these folks aren’t all climate greenies!

  6. Huggy, wasn’t intending to start another nukes vs. renewables stoush.

    Just noting that among the ideas for solar thermal electricity with energy storage, the updraft solar tower has been around for a while.

    It seems that heating up oil or molten salt as the energy storage medium, and using steam rather than air as the working fluid, has seen the most deployment thus far.

  7. pablo @ 6 – I don’t know how widespread it is, but at least some councils are putting dollar values on trees now (and they get into the tens of thousands of dollars). This makes it easier to work out what is reasonable to do if someone wants to remove them or if there are ongoing costs on keeping them healthy.

    I don’t know the specific situation you are talking about but similar issues have come up in suburban streets where councils have had to remove a lot of trees at once because they get too old and dangerous. They were originally all planted at one time and so get to their end of life at about the same time (sometimes triggered pre-emptively by drought).

    I think the real solution is to be a proactive and remove some of the unhealthiest trees earlier. So you have a rotation of new and old trees and never end up in the position again of only having small new trees around. Requires very long term planning though and a willingness to take the heat for removing some trees a bit earlier than they would ordinarily last.

  8. There have been claims that major events in human history have led to climate change. For example, it has been suggested that the mini ice age at the end of the middle ages may have been caused by the massive drop in the Indian population in America associated with the European invasion. This drop in Indian population resulted in cultivated land returning to a vegetation pattern that had a cooling effect.

  9. Wind will create a suction at the top of the tower which will add to power generation.
    Huggy: There is a good case for developing replacement packages to allow cars to operate as plug in hybrids. Part of the problem with cleaning up car emissions is that, even if we replaced all new cars with a zero emission alternative it would still take years existing cars to come to the end of their useful life.

  10. This report gives more details on ocean hot spots and the effect on ocean currents and winds. Information provided includes:

    “We would expect natural change in the oceans over decades or centuries but change with such elevated sea surface temperatures in a growing number of locations and in a synchronised manner was definitely not expected,” said Dr. Wenju Cai, of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. ………….
    In Australia’s case, scientists report intensifying east-west winds at high latitudes (45 degrees to 55 degrees south) pushing southward and speeding up the gyre or swirl of currents circulating in the South Pacific, extending from South America to the Australian coast. The resulting changes in ocean circulation patterns have pushed the East Australian Current around 350 kilometres further south, with temperatures east of Tasmania as much as two degrees warmer than they were 60 years ago.
    “We would expect natural change in the oceans over decades or centuries but change with such elevated sea surface temperatures in a growing number of locations and in a synchronised manner was definitely not expected,” Cai said……………
    The changes are characterised by a combination of currents pushing nearer to the polar regions and intensifying with systematic changes of wind over both hemispheres, attributed to increasing greenhouse gases.

    Potentially serious stuff that may affect fisheries (not necessarily for the bad) as well as changing land based weather patterns.

  11. John D,

    and that’s exactly the type of mechanism behind my climate shift stuff. Cai is going to get grief from me for admitting to being surprised. 😉

  12. Not convinced by hobbyist EV hacking, to be honest. Yes, hobbyists may break ground, but large-scale manufacturers end up catering to the other 99%, be it electronics, fixies, or EVs.

    Where I’d agree with you that the large-scale manufacturers of EVs may well not be the same large-scale manufacturers who build the present generation of combustion-driven cars.

    Also take into account that the conventional vehicle of 2025 is likely to be considerably more fuel-efficient than the conventional vehicle of today. I’d expect your average car of 2025 will combine a very, very efficient small capacity turbocharged engine, with something like the Honda IMA hybrid system combined with 2025 battery tech.

  13. JohnD.
    Yep add in packages for PiH are a very good idea. I am working on a system right now.
    Just because an idea has been around for a long time it does not mean that it is not a good one. I could cite a few examples, and counter examples.
    The efficiency of the solar chimney is cited as about 2% – roughly the same as nuclear 🙂

  14. JohnD “For example, it has been suggested that the mini ice age at the end of the middle ages may have been caused by the massive drop in the Indian population in America associated with the European invasion”

    I’m sorry, but, cough. *bullshit*

    Max end of estimates is 100M people… and most of those weren’t cultivating anything.

    Compare that to 60M bison in North America.

    You guys need to try the sniff test before you quote stuff.


  15. Yeah, I pondered that quote. The carrying capacity of the American prairies was astonishing.

    On Bison:

    “At the peak of their population, their combined weight was greater that that of the entire human population of the United States and Canada today.” (2002)

    The above is from Graham Harvey, “The Forgiveness of Nature: the story of grass”

    The notion idea that agricultural land would have been neglected after the invasion also seems flawed. It was my understanding that those areas were targeted by the invaders because they were cultivated.

  16. Blah, sorry for the typos and extra words. Going through a phase of insomnia that makes me even more illiterate than usual.

  17. FB: I read somewhere that the Indian die off was something like 95%. The main cause was things like smallpox that traveled a lot faster than the physical invasion.

  18. Wikipedia had this to say on agriculture:

    Agricultural development

    See also: Columbian Exchange and Pre-Columbian engineering in the Americas

    Early inhabitants of the Americas developed agriculture, developing and breeding maize (corn) from ears 2–5 cm in length to the current size we are familiar with today. Potatoes, tomatoes, tomatillos (a husked green tomato), pumpkins, chili peppers, squash, beans, pineapple, sweet potatoes, the grains quinoa and amaranth, cocoa beans, vanilla, onion, peanuts, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, papaya, and avocados were among other plants grown by natives. Over two-thirds of all types of food crops grown worldwide are native to the Americas.

    The natives began using fire in a widespread manner. Intentional burning of vegetation was taken up to mimic the effects of natural fires that tended to clear forest understories, thereby making travel easier and facilitating the growth of herbs and berry-producing plants that were important for both food and medicines. This created the Pre-Columbian savannas of North America.[32]

    While not as widespread as in other areas of the world (Asia, Africa, Europe), native Americans did have livestock. In Mexico as well as Central America, natives had domesticated deer which was used for meat and possibly even milk. Andean societies had llamas and alpacas for the same reasons, as well as for beasts of burden. Guinea pigs were raised for meat in the Andes. Iguanas were another source of meat in Mexico, Central, and northern South America. Domesticated turkeys were common in Central America and in some regions of North America; they were valued for their meat, feathers, and, possibly (though less likely), eggs. There is documentation of Central Americans utilizing hairless dogs, especially the Xoloitzcuintle breed, for their meat.

    By the 15th century, maize had been transmitted from Mexico and was being farmed in the Mississippi embayment, as far as the East Coast of the United States, and as far north as southern Canada. Potatoes were utilized by the Inca, and chocolate was used by the Aztec.

    Googling things like the post Columbus population crash or pre Columbian agriculture will give you more to read.

  19. Jarrah, Dave McRae, thanks.

    Jarrah, I’m quite sure I don’t catch every significant development, as I’m not systematic enough.

    We had 325mm of rain at our place last week, so the grass is very happy, which is keeping me more than busy, but we’ll muddle along.

  20. I’ve got no argument with the idea of Native American land management/agriculture – I understand it was more extensive than many would credit. The question for me is the regenerative capacity of the landscape and how quickly that would impact on climate – particularly when a third of the land mass is prairie. I just can’t see how that event, in isolation, could have changed the climate that rapidly. The impact of small pox on native Americans was not the most significant epidemic of that time period was it? If we were trying to pin it down to one thing (i don’t really think we should be trying to do that) wouldnt the impact of the pollution from increased volcanic activity make more sense?

  21. The Mail on Sunday (not linking) has been printing shit again about Climate Change.

    Today the Mail on Sunday published a story written by David Rose entitled “Forget global warming – it’s Cycle 25 we need to worry about”.

    This article includes numerous errors in the reporting of published peer reviewed science undertaken by the Met Office Hadley Centre and for Mr. Rose to suggest that the latest global temperatures available show no warming in the last 15 years is entirely misleading.

  22. fb, I’m not an expert on what happened in North America when the Europeans arrived, but I understand smallpox was a very significant factor.

    I have reservations, though, on the notion that there would have been a significant effect on the climate. The US for example I believe is a bit less than 2% of the earth’s surface.

    The item Learning from climate history suggests causation the other way around – that changes in temperature of up to 1C produced changes in climate which had adverse effects on civilisations.

  23. The little ice age is probably, as widely understood, to be due to solar cycles (that big hot thing in the sky); the Maunder Minimum coincides with this time period.

    Any influence man may have had at that time pales into comparison with the vegetation of the central and south american rainforests, prairies of the North American continent and the animals they supported.


  24. Brian@26.

    agreed.. there’s plenty of evidence that a couple of large pre-Columbian civilisations collapsed due to large El Nino cycles alone.

    Others around the place moved on when they depleted local resources, such as the Anasazi.


  25. If the claim in the video is right — 610GWh per annum — then on average the solar updraft tower is running at just under 70MWe.

  26. Brian, I definitely wasn’t suggesting that small pox didn’t decimate the local population, it did – I was querying whether epidemics (black death for example) had a greater impact on populations in other regions of the world – I was just trying to highlight the impact of disease on human populations elsewhere.

  27. Fran, 70 MWe would be about right – about 35% capacity factor brought on by the fact that the nigh-time power would be a lot less than the peak daytime. In this respect the tower will tend to track the load. I note that you leap upon this figure with glee. I should point out to you that it is not in any way relevant, and in any event it can only get better.
    I have sent this site some recent papers that show that solar thermal if geographically dispersed and linked by HVDC can supply the entire global energy needs directly from the sun at seriously competitive costs with your toxic nukes.

  28. Is this fair dinkum ?

    By the IEA’s calculations, the world spent over $409 BILLION subsidizing fossil fuels in 2010. That is compared to just $66 billion spent subsidizing clean energy.

  29. Jumpy
    “I note that you leap upon this figure with glee.
    Every time she (Fran) jumps with glee she sends out this radioactive beam. Only some of us can detect it.
    That figure for subsidies sounds about right, includes things such as railways and ports, all sorts of infrastructure I did the numbers for Queensland in 1996 and got to about $80 million – from memory.
    Nuclear probably gets bigger subsidies.

  30. “6th of Jun, 2009
    Last year, Six Degrees conducted research into the subsidies provided by the Queensland Government to the coal industry for the 2006-2007 budget. We found that the total amount of direct and quantifiable subsidisation was $3.8 billion per year. The research also confirmed the impact of these subsidies in the opportunity costs of spending on the coal industry, which results in less public funds available for less carbon intensive and sunrise industries”.
    Yep $409 billion subsidising fossil fuels globally would be about right

  31. Nuclear subsidies.
    Fukishima is going to cost the Japanese taxpayer at least $200 billion cause guess what they pick up the tab after $1.2 billion.
    It is going to cost us >$2 billion to finally put Chernoble to bed.

    So the nuke dupes should STFU about subsidies eh?

  32. Thanks Huggy, A tricky thing to quantify though, include certain roads exclude others, Govt investment into housing and amenities for Moranbah folk, what of FIFO workers ( gets into Airline subs )

    Tough gig.

  33. Huggy,

    That link is laughable.

    QR is a business… where does building infrastructure for the coal industry to utilise at a cost equal subsidy?

    They may as well say Telstra is subsidising phone users by building lines and towers.

    If their argument holds any water whatsoever, then they should have no problems privitising QR, because any commercial owner will not be subsidising their customers.

  34. According to Richard Denniss from the Australia Institute government subsidies to fossil fuel in ‘Oz’ currently run to about $10 billion p. a. and rising. See
    Giles Parkinson in Climate Spectator repeats the IEA figure of about $500 billion

  35. The for and against climate science articles in the WSJ provoked a flurry of responses and (last time I looked at least 2700 comments to the second rebuttal piece. The vast majority of these took the line that climate scientists are either mistaken, or self interested liars who are hopelessly compromised by their government funding as opposed to all that nice clean private money bankrolling the deniers.
    Among the most interesting responses:
    Andrew Glikson on ‘The Conversation’
    Andrew Revkin on ‘Dot Earth’
    Graham Redfearn
    The Australian presented the denialist first WSJ article as a news item.

  36. John D @ 12
    I haen’t heard that one. I thought it was generally accepted that the mini-ice age you refer to was caused by an earlier explosion of one of those pesky Icelandic volcanos.

  37. Duncan @27: Wikapedia discusses various explanations for the mini-ice age including solar, volcanic activity and the drop in human population without reaching any simple conclusion. On the subject of human population it says:

    Decreased human populations
    Some researchers have proposed that human influences on climate began earlier than is normally supposed and that major population declines in Eurasia and the Americas reduced this impact, leading to a cooling trend. William Ruddiman has proposed that somewhat reduced populations of Europe, East Asia, and the Middle East during and after the Black Death caused a decrease in agricultural activity. He suggests reforestation took place, allowing more carbon dioxide uptake from the atmosphere, which may have been a factor in the cooling noted during the Little Ice Age. Ruddiman further hypothesizes that a reduced population in the Americas after European contact in the early 16th century could have had a similar effect.[72][73] Faust, Gnecco, Mannstein and Stamm (2005)[74] and Nevle (2011)[75] supported depopulation in the Americas as a factor, asserting that humans had cleared considerable amounts of forests to support agriculture in the Americas before the arrival of Europeans brought on a population collapse. A 2008 study of sediment cores and soil samples further suggests that carbon dioxide uptake via reforestation in the Americas could have contributed to the Little Ice Age.[76] The depopulation is linked to a drop in carbon dioxide levels observed at Law Dome, Antarctica.[74]

    It is worth noting in the US context that, in addition to conventional agriculture, the American Indians used fire stick farming and widespread ecological modification to increase populations of grazing animals, increase the growth of desired food plants and improve access. Fire stick farming in particular suppresses the growth of trees to increase the growth of grass.

  38. fb @ 31, thanks for clarifying.

    For the record, Ronald Wright in his Short history of progress says that it was “mass killers such as smallpox, bubonic plague, influenza and measles” which did for the American native populations, the Europeans having developed resistance to them.

    John D @ 42, Bill Ruddiman has been advancing for some time the notion that human activity since rice farming began has been a major influence on warming, or the lack of cooling we otherwise would have had. See here, here and here. From memory, people like Hansen say, nice idea, but sorry, no cigar – it’s 20-25% of the story, tops.

  39. JohnD, your comment @12, only mentions the possible cause of the mini ice age as being a drop in Native American population, you mention none of the other causes.

    My main argument is that single event could not possibly have caused such a shift in climate. One does not have to be ignorant about indigenous land management techniques and the role of that management in the maintainence of grassy landscapess to disagree with your assertion @12.

    My point about epidemics is that population collapse is not something that was limited to North America, nor the middle ages. I think we can assume that a degree of reforestation (though time frames would vary depending on the ecosystem) would occur where human intervention in the landscape is reduced – were there mini-ice ages associated with other epidemics? If you are suggesting that it was the absence of firestick farming that is key, then you are ignoring the impact of all those bison on those great grassy landscapes. I think it’s fair to deduce that bison numbers would have increased as human population declined, but I doubt they would have needed to for the plains to remain plains. Prairie’s remained prairies even when the bison were nearly hunted to extinction – the ones tha wrent destroyed by cultivation that is. That brings me back to feeling you’ve overestimated the regenerative capacity of the landscape, there is much more to what defines a grassy landscapes than fire and grazing, not least climate, soil structure and fertility.

    Like the climate itself, it’s all about the interactions.

  40. Huggy said:

    Fran, 70 MWe would be about right – about 35% capacity factor brought on by the fact that the nigh-time power would be a lot less than the peak daytime. In this respect the tower will tend to track the load. I note that you leap upon this figure with glee.

    The observation was, IMO, unmarked by any sentiment at all. I did not ‘leap’. I merely stated a mathematical inference. As I’ve noted a few times recently, I’m always chuffed at good news in the low-carbon energy field. Building a plant such as this as part of a commercial operation sounds like good news to me. I genuinely hope it proves successful and leads to lower costs and better utilisation of solar energy. If HVDC and reticulation can be done cost-effectively and at industrial scale, then that’s fabulous news. The key question of course is whether it can in practice shoulder the loads that contribute the bulk of GHGs — since these are not peak or event intermediate loads but standard old baseload. I don’t much care what everyone pays for power — we should IMO, pay whatever it costs to have clean output and not grumble, but I’m in a minority in this view.

    I imagine, though I don’t know, that this particular mining site would be generating quite a bit of organic waste. I wonder if some sort of biogas plant couldn’t be integrated with the solar tower to add to its output. That’s something I’d like to see explored.

  41. Fran,
    The real problem we face is the incumbency of the present massively subsidised generation sources , coal, nuclear and gas. Subsidy is addictive. To make matters worse we have the Barry Brooks and acolytes of this world bleating that solar needs subsidies.

    Try this scenario:
    We build a HVDC link along (near) the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn HVDC works really well under water BTW.

    We then need a minimum of three large solar power regions spaced out around each of these lines.
    The Cancer line; Mexico, (might have to put one on the west Coast of the US) north central Africa,India, China
    The Capricorn line would be Central South America,Southern Africa, Australia.
    It may surprise some people to learn that the Earth goes around the sun and rotates on its axis every 24 hours or so.
    This means that this system will provide constant power 24 hours day 365 days per year.

    Subsidise the building costs ?You bet
    After that there are :
    No fuel costs
    No radioactive waste disposal
    No indemnity (ongoing subsidy) required for yet another nuclear “accident”.
    We already have the technology for both generation and distribution

    All that is missing is the imagination to do it and the sad thinking of those who think we just need more of the same.


  42. Huggy: Wilson Tuckey was a dedicated advocate of a HVDC line from the Kimberly’s to the Eastern states that would be justified in terms of providing access to cheap tidal power. You could expand his proposition to take account of tidal power in areas where the high tides are out of phase with the Kimberly tides and logical locations for other renewables as well locating the line along logical places for development.
    The again it may be better to spend the money on the actual power generators, energy storage, reducing demand and smarter power consumption.

  43. ohnD, judt because a nutjob likes a thing it does not invalidate that thing.
    There is a HVDC link across the Tasman there are in fact HVDC links all over the place , even in the barbaric wastes of New Zealand.
    HVDC is the most cost effective and efficient method for electrical energy transmission. In particular it is the only method available for serious undersea transmission (as between the North and South islands of NZ).
    Thus it is suitable for linking up scattered geographic regions.
    Take this to its logical conclusion and you can link solar powered (and derivatives such as wind) to supply fuel free base load power forever.
    I agree that local energy storage is essential but this more of a distribution network efficiency issue than simply energy.


  44. Wind Power is Solar Power!! VERY NEAT SOLUTION that may give Australia its pride back as we all so slavishly repeated the mantra that we were the clever country yet increasingly knew it was a complete lie!! Add the NBN and this country could become smart again in next to no time… let us embrace the 21st century!!

  45. Also, …I want to convert an LJ Torana to electric: does anyone have any idea how much that could cost?

  46. John D @ 49, in the long run in Huggy’s vision I think tidal power is not allowed, as the resulting waste heat derives from gravity rather than the sun. It’s only solar, wind and waves that are legit as far as I can see!

  47. Huggy: Tucker is a bit eccentric but the document he put together and the figures he used made sense to me. All I was trying to say is that there tension at the moment between options that use the grid to solve upcoming power problems vs those that put more emphasis on local action. Need some hard figures to sort out which options make sense.
    Unless you are talking about crossing the Indian ocean, the tropic of Capricorn line would add about two hours of effective sunshine compared with independent solar generation at Rockhampton and Karratha.

  48. Brian,
    I agree, solar wind and waves are legit. Even geothermal could be a problem in the long term.
    We should not see it as a waste heat problem but rather as a heat balance problem. The present warming problem is caused by the reduced ability of the planet to reject the solar energy into space due to the IR blocking by CO2.
    Even if we overcome this problem we cannot allow the total heat input to exceed the heat rejection capacity of the planet.
    Thus nuclear, coal, tidal, geothermal , wave will all drive the temperature up even if we get the carbon emissions back to pre- 19th century levels.
    I know thet it will take huge amounts of generationto get to this point but if we are serious about providing adequate energy services to all the people on the planet the generation will have to be of this order.
    Yes we do need “microgrid” based distributed energy systems, preferably with PV attached as these are about twice as efficient as the present Low Voltage network.
    Nevertheless we also need geographically distributed large solar systems all around the circumference of the earth, these will provide base load power.
    We could go down the nuke route, that is a choice we could make but do the proponents have any idea of the consequences if we had enough nuclear power for every-one? In any event we would be forced to abandon it once the generation capacity exceeded a certain level.


  49. Huggy: Wave and tidal power don’t add to the warmth of the world since all the energy involved rapidly ends up as heat no matter whether you harvest it or not. Some might argue that the same is true for nuclear but the reactions are not the same and nuclear power brings forward the release of nuclear heat.
    BTW it might make sense to set up solar towers on the top of hills to reduce the height and/or increase energy recovery. (I am assuming the air would enter the heating arrangement near the bottom of the hill. West facing hills will allow more power to be recovered in the late afternoon.

  50. JohnD
    Let us give the thermal input from the sun as 1 and the normal thermal output from the surface of the earth as almost the same this gives us the average surface temperature that we enjoy today.
    It follows that any heat input from any source – other than the sun – will drive us to a new equilibrium. We may not be able to measure this temperature rise at the moment because the contribution from artificial energy sources is so small in comparison with the input from the sun.
    Our warning is the rise intemperature caused by the increase in CO2 from fossil fuels and other sources.
    We are left with two major tasks if we are to survive:
    1.Reduce our CO2 emissions to close to zero
    2. Obtain all our energy from the solar flux – either directly or indirectly.


  51. Huggy, what I took from John D’s response is that there is energy input into the earth system from the gravitational pull of the moon in any case. All wave power does is to harness some of that and divert it temporarily to our purposes.

    It’s beyond me not being an engineer, but that’s what understood.

  52. Huggy:

    It follows that any heat input from any source – other than the sun – will drive us to a new equilibrium.

    Underlying sources of heat flowing to the atmosphere include heat flows from the center of the earth, interaction of the spinning earth with the moon and other objects in space as well as the solar contribution. Your statement should be revised to reflect this.

  53. Brian, JohnD is probably correct about tidal but he is 100% wrong about nuclear. Left alone U2 will just sit there for billions of years (yes I know about the fossil “natural reactors” that are located in Gabon).

  54. Huggy: I would have thought that what I said about nuclear @58 is in line with what you think about nuclear.
    BTW. If you add up all the heat coming from solar, tides etc. how does this compare with current human power consumption? Are we really arguing about anything important?

  55. JohnD, Brian
    Right now the non solar thermal input is not really significant.
    It will be when every-one in the world gets to use as much energy as we do.
    That is why I get so pissed off with the nuke dupes, they are just as bad as the fossil fuel loving GW deniers, all they are doing is looking after themselves and their children.
    The only long term strategy that is guaranteed to not upset the equilibrium is to intercept one of the energy flows.
    You may be correct about geo-thermal and tides etc but the first law must be that we may only intercept existing natural energy flows. Since solar is by far the biggest of them all it is the most useful. Yes we can manipulate it by large scale albedo changes etc but surely it will be easier to take most of our energy directly from it. The exact method does not matter much , PV, Solar thermal, solar towers. The important thing is that the power stations be globally dispersed to eliminate the need for storage. However electrical energy storage is the next big thing as well.

  56. John D, I’m going to prioritise doing a post (up to my neck in other stuff now) ahead of a next CC on the New Scientist article that set Huggy off. The calculation is that if everyone becomes energy-rich then the temperature of the world will go up by 3C from the “waste heat” (if I can use that term, the article does) if we use other than solar and derivatives.

    Because the world can’t afford even 1C additional, and because there should be world convergence in energy usage, it’s an issue we should be thinking about if we take a view of several centuries, as we should.

    It also allows us to think genuinely in terms of being energy rich while still emphasising energy savings, instead of everyone being energy poor, which is kind of a problem, given human nature.

  57. Lefty E, if you look back to the second item in Climate clippings 61 we were talking about this phenomenon. When Europe got the big freeze in 2010 it was deemed exceptional. Then it happened in 2011, and now again in 2012. It doesn’t mean that it will happen again in 2013, but people are looking at possible explanations.

    I think the study in your link is new over the studies linked back then, but it’s starting to become a bit interesting.

  58. It’s really uncomfortably cold here at the moment, but up until last week it was unseasonably warm and often not really wintery– there hadn’t even been any snow.

    On Saturday, when the kids were skating on the lake, someone fell in where it was only ankle deep, and today apparently someone fell in where it was a bit deeper and needed to be taken to hospital. This may of course happen in a “normal” winter, but it’s an extreme cold-snap more than a cold period. Things should start to warm up again on the weekend.

    The full moon is lovely tonight with the clear skies.

  59. Thanks Brian, nice summary.
    I must admit that the New Scientist article really hit me in the face, I had considered energy inputs but they seemed trivial when compared to CO2 forcing. They are in the short term, but there seems to be much to gain from going straight to the solar and derivatives source rather than faffing about with nuclear and all the concomitant poisoned wastelands etc, our descendants will not be happy with us at all for this act of wanton selfishness.

  60. Huggy, I believe that the IPCC future scenarios are based on the notion that there is going to be convergence in the use of energy between developed and developing countries.

    Wilful, I saw an article about that one in the AFR which is behind the paywall. Thanks for the link.

  61. Brian @68 I presume you make reference to the Jetstream discussion. I found an interesting discussion occurring over on the Arctic Sea Ice Blog. Particularly if you scroll down to Werther; January 30, 2012, there are two interesting articles that hint at the link between extreme warming in the Arctic and change in jetstream patterns to cause extreme weather in the more temperate zones.

    In some ways nothing new, as we had similar patterns two years ago in northern and southern hemisphere How a freak diversion of the jet stream is paralysing the globe with freezing conditions. Just for a bit of fun, watch the flying monkeys from (USA) Denial Industry Ltd catch peanuts in mid air down in the comments section.

  62. Further, I suspect there is a connection in regards to the recent floods in Qld and NSW. I nearly made a comment at the time when there was this massive low within the monsoon trough sitting somewhere up in the top end. I regret now not having taken screen shots, because I could see with the strong jetstreams to the south and associated through that the moist warm air will travel south east and dump along the way down which it did. We still have these ‘unusual’ jetstream activity, see todays latest/jet from weatherzone for example. the jetstreams are in l blue and the associated troughs are yellow lines, where as the weak monsoon trough crosses over the top end from east of the cyclone to the 1004 low to the west and there it is connected with a new trough that will push the low east. Just as the trough to the east shifted the cyclone rapidly east. In simple terms, while these troughs keep on coming they save us up here in FNQ from cyclones and an overly wet monsoon as we only had storms sofar. Some basic weather concepts re trough etc to help.

  63. Thanks Ootz for the links, which I’ll follow up later when I get a moment.

    One of the scientists cited earlier emphasised the pausing effect, which produced the floods in Pakistan as well as the heat wave in Russia which she associated with the weakening and the kinks in the jet stream. I was fascinated with how it kept raining in a band that went from Roma west in this latitude, and how this side of it was at times and in places quite dry. The influence just sat there and didn’t move east as they usually do.

    We did then get a separate coastal influence which brought us 325mm in a few days.

  64. BOM Special Climate Reports
    latest being

    Big wet yet still very dry for SW Aust.
    “The high 2010 and 2011 rainfall was therefore not associated with winter-time storm systems, and did not represent a return to normal conditions over the southern Australian winter season. In this way, the recent trend of rainfall reductions in autumn and winter was not reversed by the back-toback La Niña events.”
    AMOS in a tweet pointed out the 2 years big wet “makes up for about 1/3 of the total rainfall ‘missed out on’ since 1996”

  65. Huggybunny @ 77 – I’m not a fan of what Gates did with Microsoft (especially the anti-competitive stuff), but he does seem to be getting a lot of good done with his wealth funding charities and medical research etc.

  66. Chris and indeed he should (Gates). The geo engineering caper is IMV simply another way for a bunch of really rich guys to become even richer by the power this gives them to hold the whole world to ransom.

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