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Climate Change Skepticism?

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Climate Change Skepticism?
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tarstarkuszPosts: 13Joined: Wed Jul 09, 2014 7:44 pm

Post Climate Change Skepticism?

Hi, this is my first post and I didn't see an "introduce yourself' sub-+form, so hello to all. My primary interest in this forum is climate change or anthropomorphic Global Warming (AGW), though watching creationists would be good for the lols.

I am not the typical skeptic in this area. I accept the evidence and accept the high levels of certainty that the world's experts in the various specialties that are relevant to the topic. My skepticism is that we can (or will) do anything about it.

First barrier is scale. We have problems worldwide that are not as difficult to solve as AGW (which leads to climate change, which I think AGW is a better description), but we are doing absolutely nothing to solve them, or at best are making token efforts.

Second barrier is us, the people. We want our cake and to eat it too and have seconds. We all want to drive personal automobiles, we want to live in single homes on 1/2 to 1 acre plots, we want to waste energy on a massive scale and we aren't willing to stop. We also seem to want a large and growing population. Voluntary methods at population control aren't working and there are severe ethical concerns to involuntary population reduction, or even just stabilizing the population at it's current (already too high) levels.

Third barrier is the exponential rise in energy use. Take coal. It's been used for about 3 centuries at a large scale, yet about 1/2 of the coal that has ever been mined and burned has been mined and burned since the 50s-60s (ballpark). Natural gas is a little worse with about 1/2 the NG ever burned being in the last 40 years or so. Oil is the worst with 1/2 of the oil ever being burned has been since around 1991-1992, despite using oil in large quantities since the mid-late 1800s. In fact, oil use doubled in every decade of the 20th century until about the late 60s. By doubling every decade that means we burned more oil in the 1920s, than we did in all previous decades combined, more in the 30s than in all previous decades combined etc. The big story in this is that given a roughly 30 year time span for equilibrium to be reached, we are enjoying the climate changes today, caused up until about the mid 80s.

So I don't want my first post to be a 20 page rant, so I;d like to know if others here are in agreement with me, or if they believe that we can continue our lifestyles and population without destroying our environment (and I don't just mean CO2, the environmental problems are massive in scale and scope).

Any thoughts?

TT
Wed Jul 09, 2014 8:26 pm
ProlescumWebhamsterUser avatarPosts: 4994Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2009 8:41 pmLocation: Peptone-upon-Sores

Post Re: Climate Change Skepticism?

Welcome to LoR, tarstarkusz!

Our introduce yourself sub-forum is here should you wish to still use it :D

I accept AGW.

I know that's not much of a response, but I'll return to the thread when I've gathered my full thoughts on the topic (haven't given it much of my time recently) and your view.
if constructive debate is allowed to progress, better ideas will ultimately supplant worse ideas.

Comment is free, but facts are sacred
Wed Jul 09, 2014 8:40 pm
tarstarkuszPosts: 13Joined: Wed Jul 09, 2014 7:44 pm

Post Re: Climate Change Skepticism?

Prolescum wrote:Welcome to LoR, tarstarkusz!

Our introduce yourself sub-forum is here should you wish to still use it :D

I accept AGW.

I know that's not much of a response, but I'll return to the thread when I've gathered my full thoughts on the topic (haven't given it much of my time recently) and your view.


Sorry about that, I didn't see it, I'll make a post there introducing myself better.
Wed Jul 09, 2014 8:49 pm
ProlescumWebhamsterUser avatarPosts: 4994Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2009 8:41 pmLocation: Peptone-upon-Sores

Post Re: Climate Change Skepticism?

Seriously no need to apologise, I only meant that it's not compulsory to introduce yourself there but you're welcome to utilise it :D
if constructive debate is allowed to progress, better ideas will ultimately supplant worse ideas.

Comment is free, but facts are sacred
Wed Jul 09, 2014 8:59 pm
InfernoContributorUser avatarPosts: 2298Joined: Thu Apr 30, 2009 7:36 pmLocation: Vienna, Austria Gender: Cake

Post Re: Climate Change Skepticism?

tarstarkusz wrote:First barrier is scale. We have problems worldwide that are not as difficult to solve as AGW (which leads to climate change, which I think AGW is a better description), but we are doing absolutely nothing to solve them, or at best are making token efforts.


I agree to an extent.
It is true that there is a shocking laziness in the world when it comes to tackling problems. I'm just in the process of writing a blog post on it incidentally, so I'll give my thoughts in full then.
A related problem is one the "Club of Rome" explains: Many problems are interrelated, so one solution per problem just won't do. We need many solutions for the same problem, sometimes one solution targets many problems, we need many solutions at once and they need to be coordinated. An example: Fighting poverty in the global south (what we used to call the "third world") may not be accomplished by simply giving the people money. Instead, multiple solutions would include the education of women, global redistribution of wealth, removing trade barriers, promoting a more fair system of trade, etc.

These are extremely difficult problem, all of them, I doubt there's anything easy about any of the big problems we currently face.

tarstarkusz wrote:Second barrier is us, the people. We want our cake and to eat it too and have seconds. We all want to drive personal automobiles, we want to live in single homes on 1/2 to 1 acre plots, we want to waste energy on a massive scale and we aren't willing to stop. We also seem to want a large and growing population. Voluntary methods at population control aren't working and there are severe ethical concerns to involuntary population reduction, or even just stabilizing the population at it's current (already too high) levels.


Again I can only agree to an extent.

Yes, people are lazy, but I think the marketing ideas aren't up to par. Look at what we're being sold: Buy "green" stuff or we'll have huge problems in a few years. Instead, I would expect state to regulate products and basically sell: Buy "green" or you'll pay twice as much on your gasoline-powered car.
But that's just part of the problem. Currently, people aren't penalized for doing wrong and aren't rewarded for doing good. I'm not talking about "against the law wrong" and "hero good", but simple day to day stuff. In Austria, we have a good culture of recycling. In Belgium, we recycle as well. In Sweden, funny enough, I've never seen a person recycle. Other countries don't care too much, either. Even in countries where you do recycle, there are different degrees and so on. Incidentally, there seems to be some controversy over whether recycling really makes a difference. Strange, but I'll have to check it out at some point.

I pretty much agree with the rest.
I wrote a blog post on the subject a few (welp! MONTHS???)... err, yeah, months ago, I'd sure appreciate more input.
"Sometimes people don't want to hear the truth because they don't want their illusions destroyed." ― Friedrich Nietzsche

"I shall achieve my objectives through the power... of Science!" --LessWrong
Wed Jul 09, 2014 10:24 pm
tarstarkuszPosts: 13Joined: Wed Jul 09, 2014 7:44 pm

Post Re: Climate Change Skepticism?

Inferno wrote:
tarstarkusz wrote:First barrier is scale. We have problems worldwide that are not as difficult to solve as AGW (which leads to climate change, which I think AGW is a better description), but we are doing absolutely nothing to solve them, or at best are making token efforts.


I agree to an extent.
It is true that there is a shocking laziness in the world when it comes to tackling problems. I'm just in the process of writing a blog post on it incidentally, so I'll give my thoughts in full then.
A related problem is one the "Club of Rome" explains: Many problems are interrelated, so one solution per problem just won't do. We need many solutions for the same problem, sometimes one solution targets many problems, we need many solutions at once and they need to be coordinated. An example: Fighting poverty in the global south (what we used to call the "third world") may not be accomplished by simply giving the people money. Instead, multiple solutions would include the education of women, global redistribution of wealth, removing trade barriers, promoting a more fair system of trade, etc.

These are extremely difficult problem, all of them, I doubt there's anything easy about any of the big problems we currently face.

tarstarkusz wrote:Second barrier is us, the people. We want our cake and to eat it too and have seconds. We all want to drive personal automobiles, we want to live in single homes on 1/2 to 1 acre plots, we want to waste energy on a massive scale and we aren't willing to stop. We also seem to want a large and growing population. Voluntary methods at population control aren't working and there are severe ethical concerns to involuntary population reduction, or even just stabilizing the population at it's current (already too high) levels.


Again I can only agree to an extent.

Yes, people are lazy, but I think the marketing ideas aren't up to par. Look at what we're being sold: Buy "green" stuff or we'll have huge problems in a few years. Instead, I would expect state to regulate products and basically sell: Buy "green" or you'll pay twice as much on your gasoline-powered car.
But that's just part of the problem. Currently, people aren't penalized for doing wrong and aren't rewarded for doing good. I'm not talking about "against the law wrong" and "hero good", but simple day to day stuff. In Austria, we have a good culture of recycling. In Belgium, we recycle as well. In Sweden, funny enough, I've never seen a person recycle. Other countries don't care too much, either. Even in countries where you do recycle, there are different degrees and so on. Incidentally, there seems to be some controversy over whether recycling really makes a difference. Strange, but I'll have to check it out at some point.

I pretty much agree with the rest.
I wrote a blog post on the subject a few (welp! MONTHS???)... err, yeah, months ago, I'd sure appreciate more input.



First, I don't believe that redistribution of wealth will ever solve any problem and in fact, makes them worse. When we give money to developing nations, the money is almost always used to maltreat the citizens of that country. I think the best approach to poverty in the developing world is to not help at all and leave them to their own devices. If we do that, than they will get better governments and true foreign investment and not crony capitalism where their bought-and-paid-for government doesn't give western multinationals the ability to go into those countries and ruin their lives. Every time westerns try to "help", the people there get the shaft.

Educating women is probably not going to help when there is already massive unemployment and not enough seats in the education systems. Education of women works after you have a functioning economy and the only real thing it really helps is with the population.

In most cases, if recycling is 'worth it', people do it on their own. Decades before recycling became mandatory in my city, I recycled metals. In one case, I was in tech school, I got a job to clean out an old metal warehouse and made thousands of dollars recycling scrap metal that was all over the place. If you have to mandate it, it's probably not worth it. If your trash is valuable, people will take it or even pay you for it. The flea market people are all over the roads on trash day picking things out of the trash to re-sell at flea markets and antique stores. If paper and plastics were worth recycling, people would be doing it on their own.

"Solutions" or fixes almost always lead to different problems that are often worse.

My favorite is the electric passenger car, which is no solution at all. When you add up all the losses, they aren't really any better than high MPG petrol passenger cars. The very idea that moving around human bodies with 3000lb vehicles is the problem. Even an electric car is using less than 1% of the energy (all along the chain) to move the human body from point a to point b. Furthermore, based on what is in the lab stage today, we are looking at a very long time between today and the very first year all-electric cars outsell petrol cars. I am thinking 2 decades at a minimum. As long as we are using heat to drive turbines (regardless of the source), thermal conversion to electricity will remain under 40%. Then you have to take the power loss over the grid into consideration, the inefficiencies of the battery both charging and discharging. Another problem is that many of the homes in all of our older east coast cities (US centric here) lack garages. The lack of garages is a serious problem. The charging time is also a very serious problem for traveling.

Of course, the other problem with electric cars is finding the electricity for them. I am not entirely sure about this issue and I hope someone can help, because I have contacted renewable energy experts at universities and even in the sector. I am not at all convinced that PV are net energy producers, or if they are, are very poor net energy returns. The only studies I've been able to find are studies that look at the consumption of energy over X period of time and how much electricity the panels produced in that time period will eventually generate. But before we bet the farm on trying to get PV panels on all of our roofs, I think we need to know the whole story. How much energy does it take to make a panel when you include all of the embedded energy throughout the production chain? Admittedly, this can get very tricky if you have to start accounting for the roads, the cars that people use to drive to their jobs in PV etc.

Instead of looking at how much diesel the bulldozer uses, find out how much energy it took to make the bulldozer and use this approach all the way to the roof. Because if we 'spend' the last of our fossil fuels creating an energy system that is either net negative or low positive EROI, when those panels fail and need replacement, we will be in a world of trouble. But at minimum we should be looking over time at the production chain including not just the energy used, but the embedded energy through the chain.

This is just PV, something people seem fascinated with. Using solar assisted heat and hot water could probably dramatically reduce the energy use in homes. They are much simpler and not as sexy, but they work and they are much cheaper than PV.

There's more, but I think I put enough out there.

Thanks,

TT
Thu Jul 10, 2014 12:06 am
VivreUser avatarPosts: 351Joined: Thu Apr 04, 2013 5:05 pmLocation: dungeon of despair Gender: Female

Post Re: Climate Change Skepticism?

tarstarkusz wrote:Educating women is probably not going to help when there is already massive unemployment

Oh wow - I wished men would have been kept dumb over all the evolution time 'cos it's them being responsible for all the worlds misschief!

Sorry to find you that uneducated that you don't know that knowlegde serves more than becoming a work~sheep, it also helps to fight unbearable suppression and overruling cruelty by men.

I wished all women on this planet would unite and stop procreating and best would be to live sorted single-sex on separate continents.

I demand for men to move to the south pole ... to help you keep cool :mrgreen:
Thu Jul 10, 2014 12:35 am
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tarstarkuszPosts: 13Joined: Wed Jul 09, 2014 7:44 pm

Post Re: Climate Change Skepticism?

Vivre wrote:
tarstarkusz wrote:Educating women is probably not going to help when there is already massive unemployment

Oh wow - I wished men would have been kept dumb over all the evolution time 'cos it's them being responsible for all the worlds misschief!

Sorry to find you that uneducated that you don't know that knowlegde serves more than becoming a work~sheep, it also helps to fight unbearable suppression and overruling cruelty by men.

I wished all women on this planet would unite and stop procreating and best would be to live sorted single-sex on separate continents.

I demand for men to move to the south pole ... to help you keep cool :mrgreen:


I should have been more clear. I was trying to keep laser focused on AGW. Population and AGW are related which is why I addressed it, but by only dedicating a single line to it, I misrepresented my own views. So I will try to better explain myself and how the West almost inevitably does far more damage than help, when it tries to help.

First, women should be able to access education (where formal education is available) because of their humanity, not what it will do for the population problem or economic development. If educating women caused them to have more babies, they would still deserve, on their humanity, to have the same access to education that males have in that nation. I want to make it unequivocal that I wasn't intending to say that women shouldn't be educated or that the boys should have preferential access to education. I could see how it could be interpreted in that way and for that I apologize. It isn't what I meant.

If a developing nation has a puppet of the west as it's government, what generally happens is western multinational corporations move in and ruin the lives of the people there. The installed puppet government crushes any attempts at unionization, environmental protection, worker safety and other things we westerners take for granted. There are usually very restrictive IMF loans in the deal. Another thing that generally happens is local entrepreneurs are put out of business, especially small farmers. We drop our highly mechanized and subsized food onto their local agriculture economy and price them out of the market. It's also very difficult to start a small business under a hostile government with a lack of infrastructure and in many cases, where people don't even have access to clean drinking water. Without a viable economy, a western style education for men or women is not going to do much good. If you are a peasant farmer in a country where there is no working economy, strict IMF loans, and a puppet government, formal education will do little to impact that lives of the people there. If these conditions persist and people are educated, they leave, thus making the country that much worse off. (basically brain drain).


I was deliberately trying to keep the focus on climate change and was addressing a statement made by another person. What I meant to say wasn't really about women, it was about what actually happens when western nations "help" developing nations or nations not in the G8 or even G20. For example, in a South or central America country (I don't recall what country it was, though I am willing to find a citation if this is not already known to be true here), a puppet government was installed, they got IMF loans and ended up having to privatize the water system. The water system had been public, but the consequences of the IMF loans and the puppet governments ended up with a French multinational taking the water system over and jacked the prices up to the point where most of the people couldn't afford water. If you didn't have the piping from the street into your home, you had to pay thousands of dollars to get the connection and in many cases the cost of this connection was many multiples of their yearly salary. The problem became so bad, that even these extremely poor and otherwise powerless people were able to get the multinational water company thrown out and service restored through mass protests. But had it been a little less oppressive, these people would have been spending a large percentage of their income on water. Think about how disgusting this really is. People living in a South American (or central, I really don't recall) country had to pay a French company for the water they rightfully owned. Tap water should never be in private hands, especially foreign private hands.

In an unrelated incident in Africa (I forget which nation it was, but again if needed, I'll provide documentation), Coca Cola was given a license to remove water from a local aquifer and were given a huge ration, again under IMF loan agreements and western puppet governments, so that all of the local people's wells dried up. The water table dropped and thousands and thousands of people had to drink river water because they couldn't afford to drill a deeper well. Even if they could afford it, Coca Cola was taking the water so much faster than it could replenish, that it would only be a matter of time before a new well or another deepening of their existing well would need to be done. To the best of my knowledge, this is still happening. The amount of water it takes to make a a liter of Coke is many multiples of that liter. Because of this, a lot of people are forced to purchase a Coca-Cola owned brand of bottled water that rightfully belongs to them in the first place. This was a fresh water aquifer that was potable and the locals had been using it for many centuries.

These are good examples of how crony foreign investment goes wrong. True foreign investment should make the lives of the people in that country better off than when 'we' came, and it's far too often that things like the above examples happens. We see it over and over and over. When they get a government that works for them, then foreign investment can vastly improve the lives of the people in that nation. This in turn would help their economy and the fertility rate of the nation will go down.

I apologize for not being clearer in my earlier post and I hope I have better explained myself. I am very open to criticism on the issues.

Thanks,

TT

EDITED TO CHANGE A TYPO FROM G6 TO G8
EDITED AGAIN: God, I previewed it multiple times and still I let mistakes go through. I removed a redundant word.
Thu Jul 10, 2014 5:19 am
scalyblueUser avatarPosts: 1417Joined: Sun Aug 30, 2009 3:02 am

Post Re: Climate Change Skepticism?

Not to be a pedant, but you're talking about Anthropogenic Global Warming, not Anthropomorphic Global Warming. One means originating in human activity, and one means resembling a human in form.
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Fri Jul 11, 2014 11:45 pm
tarstarkuszPosts: 13Joined: Wed Jul 09, 2014 7:44 pm

Post Re: Climate Change Skepticism?

scalyblue wrote:Not to be a pedant, but you're talking about Anthropogenic Global Warming, not Anthropomorphic Global Warming. One means originating in human activity, and one means resembling a human in form.


Yes, that's what I meant. I just wish there was more interest in the topic. I was really hoping that the information I was trying to get a hold of existed and someone would point me to it. I am extremely pessimistic about the long term future. Something has to give, we either have to get used to consuming much less energy or have a much smaller population.

I hear environmentalists complaining about the tarsands and fracking, but even if these were cleaner, they have much, much lower net energy than the sources we used to build the society we live in and expect to continue living in. Same thing with coal, the coal we are mining today is of lower quality, requires more energy to mine, and give off far less heat per ton while creating more pollution per ton.

There are some possible renewable energy sources that look interesting, but most simply don't have the EROI of the fossil fuels we are used to and many have problems.

Solar thermal is a good idea, particularly on rooftops. Depending on your location and configuration, you can substantially reduce the amount of oil/gas needed to warm your home and provide hot water.

Large scale solar thermal electricity generation works well in the desert, but there's no cooling water available and it would consume a lot of energy to pipe water in and out to do the cooling. It might be possible to use mechanical windmills to pump the water from the ocean and back or use the kinetic energy of a moving river to pump the water to the station and back. depending on the distance. I'm not sure on the numbers of how many square miles it would take to have a base load of say 4GW (one of the good things about this approach is the ability to store the heat underground so it can run 24/7, so long as there is not a long string of cloudy days), but whatever the number is, it's probably not very good for the ecosystem of the desert.

I just watched a presentation on cellulosic Algae based ethanol and it seems to show that there might be a future in pond scum:) With genetic modification they believe they can vastly improve the amount of energy from the Algae though cellulose than from oils. Most research into Algae is oil based though. Cellulosic Algae is still in the lab and I don't think there is anyone producing Algae based oil in anything larger than a pilot scale and none of them are competitive with fossil oil. The Algae in all cases are being fed sugars, which mean they are competing for food. Also, I think a number of test sites are using captured CO2 next to a coal or NG based power plant and some also use the waste heat from the power plant to do drying. Another plant (I'm not sure what scale it's at) is using the waste heat and byproducts of a corn ethanol facility, but again your competing for food. Corn ethanol itself is just downright STUPID! One of the worst ideas in energy that I know of (not counting free energy types).

The only real silver lining is that we waste so much energy that if we stopped wasting energy, we could get by on less.

TT
Sat Jul 12, 2014 2:24 am
EngelbertPosts: 290Joined: Thu Mar 28, 2013 3:03 am Gender: Male

Post Re: Climate Change Skepticism?

Hi there tarstarkusz, how's it going?


You paint a pretty grim picture regarding attempts to combat climate change. You seem concerned that we won't do anything, or that we couldn't even if we tried. Whilst you've given lots of examples about potential issues, I'm not sure that all of your points are valid, but there certainly are some issues that you've touched upon.

Climate change is a hugely complicated issue. You might be right that we won't act to sufficiently combat the problem. However, I'm not sure I'd be quite so pessimistic about the current solutions, such as wind, PV, recycling and other renewables. I think that these tend to provide a good CO2 reduction for the same energy output as traditional sources, however they do not provide us with a realistic global solution to the energy shortage and are generally quite an expensive alternative.

Speaking broadly though, I'm not sure whether we will act sufficiently to resolve it either. One problem is that many simply deny that there is a problem; even people in or seeking power. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0BzItCPk5j4
The first step surely is to persuade folks that it is actually happening, whether they like it or not. This seems to be one barrier before you've even begun work on possible solutions. Drawing an analogy to smoking seems quite appropriate to me. Scientists tell us that smoking will increase the chances of disease and early death. We are free to smoke given this information, but to pretend that smoking is healthy is denial.

I'd be inclined to feel less pessimistic about current solutions than yourself though. I'd see them as providing results, but at a cost that renders them generally unviable as a large scale answer. I think that resolving this issue is within the ability of humanity, but may be something that we simply don't want to afford. The best answer to me would probably be nuclear fusion, if that ever becomes a viable energy source. Could we hang on till then? Some suggest that it could become viable in a few decades.

Would you like the issue of CC to be resolved? Perhaps some people accept the science, as with smoking, but simply aren't that concerned by the issue or the potential results. You seem to have made arguments so far that virtually nothing is working. I'd suggest that we have some resolutions, but that they are insufficient, rather than complete failures. Recycling, for example, might not solve everything but we'd be better off working towards a society that recycles as much as possible than any alternative, even if the net CO2/energy benefit is modest.
Sat Jul 12, 2014 4:19 pm
tarstarkuszPosts: 13Joined: Wed Jul 09, 2014 7:44 pm

Post Re: Climate Change Skepticism?

Engelbert wrote:Hi there tarstarkusz, how's it going?


You paint a pretty grim picture regarding attempts to combat climate change. You seem concerned that we won't do anything, or that we couldn't even if we tried. Whilst you've given lots of examples about potential issues, I'm not sure that all of your points are valid, but there certainly are some issues that you've touched upon.

Climate change is a hugely complicated issue. You might be right that we won't act to sufficiently combat the problem. However, I'm not sure I'd be quite so pessimistic about the current solutions, such as wind, PV, recycling and other renewables. I think that these tend to provide a good CO2 reduction for the same energy output as traditional sources, however they do not provide us with a realistic global solution to the energy shortage and are generally quite an expensive alternative.

Speaking broadly though, I'm not sure whether we will act sufficiently to resolve it either. One problem is that many simply deny that there is a problem; even people in or seeking power. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0BzItCPk5j4
The first step surely is to persuade folks that it is actually happening, whether they like it or not. This seems to be one barrier before you've even begun work on possible solutions. Drawing an analogy to smoking seems quite appropriate to me. Scientists tell us that smoking will increase the chances of disease and early death. We are free to smoke given this information, but to pretend that smoking is healthy is denial.

I'd be inclined to feel less pessimistic about current solutions than yourself though. I'd see them as providing results, but at a cost that renders them generally unviable as a large scale answer. I think that resolving this issue is within the ability of humanity, but may be something that we simply don't want to afford. The best answer to me would probably be nuclear fusion, if that ever becomes a viable energy source. Could we hang on till then? Some suggest that it could become viable in a few decades.

Would you like the issue of CC to be resolved? Perhaps some people accept the science, as with smoking, but simply aren't that concerned by the issue or the potential results. You seem to have made arguments so far that virtually nothing is working. I'd suggest that we have some resolutions, but that they are insufficient, rather than complete failures. Recycling, for example, might not solve everything but we'd be better off working towards a society that recycles as much as possible than any alternative, even if the net CO2/energy benefit is modest.


I think we could solve the problem, but NOT with the same per-capita energy use at the same level of population, particularly with China and India rapidly industrializing. China is headed for a massive collapse the likes of which have never been seen, so that really is a wild card. I suspect when they finally crash, there will be decades of stagnation and political turmoil.

First, I'd like to a make a correction about solar thermal, dry cooling is available and does work, though it does lower the efficiency.
I definitely want to see climate change solved, my problem is that we are pursuing things that might not work, like PV. Given the complexity of the infrastructure needed to support PV manufacturing and all of the equipment and buildings and so on, I am not convinced that PV is a good idea. Even if PV is net positive, it's nowhere near 20-30X (which is current conventional fossil fuels. When I say conventional, I mean to exclude fossil fuels like ultra deep water, fracking, tarsands, tight oil, kerogen etc. I mean fossil fuels on land, of high quality and easy to extract. The non-conventional fossil fuels all come in at under ten 10 to 1 EROI ).

Wind, Solar Thermal, tidal, geothermal etc all produce electricity and we simply are not going to be able to replace oil with electricity. We have 10s of trillions of dollars of equipment that runs on liquid fuels. Something like fusion could be a game changer, but we've been promised fusion for a long time and nearly all the research is going towards the Tokamak method, which while it has worked, it's never worked with a net energy gain and probably never will.

Ideally, we could change 3 things and solve the problem
1) Our homes. We should live in larger buildings that are multifamily (this assumes that we want the current population)
2) Our diets and agriculture. The agricultural revolution represented the first way we could live with large scale specialization because there was a net surplus of energy through agriculture. Modern agriculture is a huge net energy loss. It takes something like 30C of fossil fuel for ever calorie of food delivered in N. America. Worldwide it's lower, around 10 (IIRC). Modern agriculture, besides all the other problems associated with it, is fundamentally unsustainable.
3) The transport sector. Personal autos are just 1 thing. Planes, boats, tractor trailers and (depending on the type) trains all use fossil fuels. Over 97% of all things moved from point a to point b are moved using fossil fuels and more specifically, liquid fossil fuels. We chase low wages because fuel is so cheap that it's virtually free (per unit shipped). So we get iron ore mined in South America, Shipped to China to be made into steel, shipped somewhere else to rough cut, shipped somewhere else (mostly back to China) for making a finished project and then shipped again to it's final consumer market.

As I mentioned earlier, the one silver lining in AGW is that we don't NEED most of the energy we use. We waste a great deal of it, but it's going to be a massive culture shock for the west, but I think it's technically possible. I just don't think we are going to do it in time. Another thing I mentioned is that the lag between emissions and equilibrium means we are enjoying the climate caused by the emissions up until the mid 80s. We have increased emissions almost every single year since then by some % of the previous year. This is why I brought up the point about having burned more than 1/2 the oil ever burned since about 1991. If we stopped emitting TODAY, we would enjoy at least another 30 years of warming.

There is too much wishful thinking in society. Change a few light-bulbs, drive electric cars, send diesel powered trucks all throughout the city to pick up recycling and we can go on living the same way, exponentially increasing energy consumption indefinitely. As Kunstler would say... "Too much magic" or I think Musk said "wishful thinking".

Chris
Sun Jul 13, 2014 5:31 am
InfernoContributorUser avatarPosts: 2298Joined: Thu Apr 30, 2009 7:36 pmLocation: Vienna, Austria Gender: Cake

Post Re: Climate Change Skepticism?

Having just finished my long-ass reply to Dandan, I feel fit to continue with this topic.

Most (all?) of your opposition can be summed up in three arguments:
"It never worked yet"
"It won't work"
and
"The technology's not there yet"

"It never worked yet" is what I talked about in my first paragraph. To name but one example, and one that is controversial at that, the Club of Rome (CoR) suggests we need many different solutions to tackle a problem, we need all of the solutions to work and we need to coordinate them, i.e. first giving money and then getting rid of corruption is stupid.

CoR also suggests, and again I agree, that the solutions shouldn't be imposed, but be bottom-up as well as top-down solutions. Kind of "working in tandem". Let's look at the poverty-example a bit more in-depth. Simply pumping money into a bottomless pit isn't going to work, we know that. Imposing a government like in Iraq might work if there's long-time armed presence in the area. That costs a lot of money and will only take one country at a time. Even worse, if you don't do it right you will have the whole country against you.

What is needed then is a bottom-up solution: The Arab spring gave me a lot of hope, but it was mostly killed in its infancy. If we can collectively inspire people to take on a new way of living, and that includes us as well, then we might have a hope of achieving our goal. It would need a more-or-less global movement, at the very least a large region, and be supported from the outside. For example: If Egypt were to revolt again and vote for a secular, rational government with a great majority, we might still have to help them out (resources, intellect, etc.) to keep that process going. We'll also need to focus on its neighbours then, to try and "convert" them. That constant effort is a bit like protecting the flank: The enemy can't get to the valuable bit.

As for "It won't work", that's a bit pessimistic. Let's take my earlier example of recycling. I talked about "penalizing" people who don't recycle and this might be taken as jail or a fine. This isn't necessarily what I meant, so I'll try to explain. No matter how many people recycle, there will always be some who don't, either because they're lazy or because it's not worth their time. Why should Silvio Berlusconi recycle stuff that's worth 100$ when he's worth 10.000.000.000$? It's simply not worth his time. But what if this penalization isn't top-down, but bottom up? In the book "World War Z", Max Brooks makes an excellent suggestion: Shame. Very few things are more powerful than shame, especially when we know it's about the survival of our species. In the book, people are shamed when they commit crimes and as a result, there is barely any crime in the Z-War. How about that? Or why not other emotions? As long as it comes from the people, it may work. (I'm not suggesting that's necessarily a good thing, by the way!)

Your last one is basically "The technology isn't there yet". You cite electric cars as an example. I agree that the technology isn't anywhere near sufficient yet, but that's only because not enough time or money have been spent. There are many innovative concepts out there, though of course it's dubious if they would work in reality. But just because we don't know doesn't mean we shouldn't try. Doesn't mean that we shouldn't pump billions into the stuff. I'm a huge fan of the concept of the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR). We don't know if it will really bring what it suggests, but it damn well is worth a try. If I had the billions, I would invest them myself.

As for electric cars: I'm not a fan of auto-mobiles in general, I prefer public transportation. However, that doesn't mean there isn't a need for cars. I read an article about an electric car about 2 years ago, stating that it has a range of 600km, with the same speed and so on as other cars. Downside: It takes 1h to recharge. Now it might just be me, but with the new batteries they're developing all the time, it's just a matter of time before they either hit upon an even better battery or before they can find a way to take the battery out of the car, leave it at the garage and replace the dead one with a fully charged battery. Surely that can't be the problem... I expect e-cars to be the future of personal transportation.
"Sometimes people don't want to hear the truth because they don't want their illusions destroyed." ― Friedrich Nietzsche

"I shall achieve my objectives through the power... of Science!" --LessWrong
Mon Jul 14, 2014 3:58 pm
tarstarkuszPosts: 13Joined: Wed Jul 09, 2014 7:44 pm

Post Re: Climate Change Skepticism?

Inferno wrote:Having just finished my long-ass reply to Dandan, I feel fit to continue with this topic.

Most (all?) of your opposition can be summed up in three arguments:
"It never worked yet"
"It won't work"
and
"The technology's not there yet"

"It never worked yet" is what I talked about in my first paragraph. To name but one example, and one that is controversial at that, the Club of Rome (CoR) suggests we need many different solutions to tackle a problem, we need all of the solutions to work and we need to coordinate them, i.e. first giving money and then getting rid of corruption is stupid.

CoR also suggests, and again I agree, that the solutions shouldn't be imposed, but be bottom-up as well as top-down solutions. Kind of "working in tandem". Let's look at the poverty-example a bit more in-depth. Simply pumping money into a bottomless pit isn't going to work, we know that. Imposing a government like in Iraq might work if there's long-time armed presence in the area. That costs a lot of money and will only take one country at a time. Even worse, if you don't do it right you will have the whole country against you.

What is needed then is a bottom-up solution: The Arab spring gave me a lot of hope, but it was mostly killed in its infancy. If we can collectively inspire people to take on a new way of living, and that includes us as well, then we might have a hope of achieving our goal. It would need a more-or-less global movement, at the very least a large region, and be supported from the outside. For example: If Egypt were to revolt again and vote for a secular, rational government with a great majority, we might still have to help them out (resources, intellect, etc.) to keep that process going. We'll also need to focus on its neighbours then, to try and "convert" them. That constant effort is a bit like protecting the flank: The enemy can't get to the valuable bit.

As for "It won't work", that's a bit pessimistic. Let's take my earlier example of recycling. I talked about "penalizing" people who don't recycle and this might be taken as jail or a fine. This isn't necessarily what I meant, so I'll try to explain. No matter how many people recycle, there will always be some who don't, either because they're lazy or because it's not worth their time. Why should Silvio Berlusconi recycle stuff that's worth 100$ when he's worth 10.000.000.000$? It's simply not worth his time. But what if this penalization isn't top-down, but bottom up? In the book "World War Z", Max Brooks makes an excellent suggestion: Shame. Very few things are more powerful than shame, especially when we know it's about the survival of our species. In the book, people are shamed when they commit crimes and as a result, there is barely any crime in the Z-War. How about that? Or why not other emotions? As long as it comes from the people, it may work. (I'm not suggesting that's necessarily a good thing, by the way!)

Your last one is basically "The technology isn't there yet". You cite electric cars as an example. I agree that the technology isn't anywhere near sufficient yet, but that's only because not enough time or money have been spent. There are many innovative concepts out there, though of course it's dubious if they would work in reality. But just because we don't know doesn't mean we shouldn't try. Doesn't mean that we shouldn't pump billions into the stuff. I'm a huge fan of the concept of the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR). We don't know if it will really bring what it suggests, but it damn well is worth a try. If I had the billions, I would invest them myself.

As for electric cars: I'm not a fan of auto-mobiles in general, I prefer public transportation. However, that doesn't mean there isn't a need for cars. I read an article about an electric car about 2 years ago, stating that it has a range of 600km, with the same speed and so on as other cars. Downside: It takes 1h to recharge. Now it might just be me, but with the new batteries they're developing all the time, it's just a matter of time before they either hit upon an even better battery or before they can find a way to take the battery out of the car, leave it at the garage and replace the dead one with a fully charged battery. Surely that can't be the problem... I expect e-cars to be the future of personal transportation.


I don't remember where it was, but I brought up using thorium and the person insisted that it's loaded with problems. My understanding is that the DOD had a working LFTR reactor running 24/7 for like 4 or 5 years without any problems, but that the need for nukes and nuclear medicine drove the decision to use uranium. Nuclear has a very undeserved negative public opinion. More people die from coal mining every year than have ever died in the history of nuclear power. Even the people who like nuclear, like it for somewhere else, where they don't live. (NIMBY)

I don't understand why you seem to think that what I am writing is:

It never worked yet"
"It won't work"
and
"The technology's not there yet"


Certainly battery technology isn't there and for our purposes (my life span, I'm 45), never will be there for ships, planes, 18 wheelers etc. But even if they were, it's not like we have that kind of electricity to spare. The newest and best batteries on the mass market today are lithium polymer. This isn't new, it was developed decades ago. It's just we are seeing more of them because of price drops.
The main thrust of my argument is that none of what could be done will be done on time. I think we could, if we really wanted to, restrict the amount of warming we will get (though I don't think that has been settled, either how much warming we will get or how much is too much). I do agree that technology is a wildcard. If we got fusion or a very low cost LFTR (or some other viable nuclear technology) we could literally strip CO2 out of the atmosphere. Of course, this isn't going to help the acidification of the ocean.

I also see AGW as an energy and population problem, in addition to the pollution problem. (BTW.. I'm about 1/2 through one of the newer editions of Limits to Growth, maybe the 93 or 03 version, I'd have to check. Meadows died, so the planned ?2013? edition was never released). If we had a lot more time and a lot more energy (thus a growing economy), I think we could solve the problem and live at a lower level of energy consumption.

Recycling is not particularity helpful to any of these problems, especially energy because you can't recycle it. Recycling is good for the environment, but in a different way. I don't think recycling will help CO2 emissions. Most of the mandatory recycling programs are net energy losers. They might help with landfills or removing toxins from the environment, but that's about the extent it will help. Recycling that makes sense is already done. Most metals are recycled, paper is recycled, glass is often recycled and obviously stuff with expensive minerals or elements in them are recycled. Reusing is a completely different thing. I re-use and repair things and I often buy used goods, particularity technology. But I also bought a beautiful oak bedroom set for less than $100 at a thrift store (not the mattress or box-spring though).

The things we are doing today are terrible. If this is any indication of what we will be doing, we aren't going to fix this problem. We are building PV like there is no tomorrow, yet we really don't know if these are net energy positive or what their energy return is (be it neg or pos). Palm oil and sugar based ethanol displaces food or habitat and corn ethanol is about the worst energy policy I am aware of. Even if had high net energy returns (which it doesn't), it's not renewable. We are depleting aquifers and strip mining the soil to create an ethanol that has as much fossil fuel inputs as you get from it when it is burned. The best number I've ever come across that was reasonably well sourced was about a 1.2 to 1 EROI (but only the fossil fuel inputs, it takes hundreds and hundreds of hours of sun to grow it!). This IS the reality of what we are doing today. What we might do in the future is anyone's guess.

I would generally agree with you that we are going to need lots of solutions. Sea and land based wind, solar thermal, some geothermal, possibly more hydro and nuclear along with better new housing with ultra low energy design can all contribute. I just watched a YT video a few days ago (you can find it by searching YT for solar thermal) where this guy has a large house in Alaska and gets through the winter with a little over 1 chord (probably misspelled) of wood. It's ugly as shit (he shows a picture of it), but it shows just how well a good design with solar thermal (which oddly enough can do air conditioning as well) can work. Matt Simmons did a lot of work with MIT to develop advanced composites that could be used to create gigantic windmills in the gulf of Maine which would generate enough electricity during the winter to heat all of New England, which mostly uses heating oil for winter heating (according to Simmons). This is a good approach, each geographical area using the resources it has in a way that makes sense. He also said that during the summer, these windmills could make ammonia which could be used as a liquid fuel, but I don't know how feasible that is. Clearly, the American South-West has an enormous supply of solar thermal and could provide all of the electricity needs in that section of the US.

I'd like to hear more about this car that has a 600KM range, is similar to petrol cars and only takes an hour to charge. That simply isn't possible in the US at 110V and 20amp wiring (which is the standard). I don't even think it could work in a 220 regime. Even at 220 (at 20amps) you could only theoretically charge a battery to 4.4KWH (charging efficiency drops off a cliff when the battery reaches about 70% SOC and gets worse from there). What kind of specialization for charging does this car need?

China has built hundreds of new coal fired plants in the last 14 years. They are going to be with us for many decades. Therefor, we are committed to burning a lot of coal for many decades quietly emitting CO2 and lots of other bad stuff. China's coal fired power-plants are of very poor design compared to modern US coal plants. . The US has built out NG fired power plants and they too will be with us for many decades quietly emitting CO2.

It's hard to say if the Three Gorges Dam will ever be a net clean energy source. They are already having a lot of problems because of it. It also warms the water (in several ways. the large lake that isn't moving and by cooling pipes all throughout the dam to cure the concrete which probably won't stop curing until the 22nd century) and robs the downstream of silt that is desperately needed.

I just read a report that commercial oysters are no longer able to be grown in the ocean because of all of the CO2 dissolved in the ocean. As I am sure you already know, the ocean is being affected in many ways.

Every country on the planet has a money system that requires economic growth to function. Our money system does not work if the supply of money and credit do not expand by some % of the existing M+C. With this system in place, growth is the world religion. It is very difficult if not outright impossible to have growth without increasing energy usage.

Paradoxically, becoming more energy efficient causes more energy to be used. Think of it this way:
You decide you are going to become more energy efficient. So you install better insulation, get a more efficient air conditioner and refrigerator etc. Once these things have paid for themselves (or your fridge needs replacing anyway), you now have more disposable income which you then spend to buy more stuff. No matter what stuff you buy, it involved lots of energy.

If the ocean rises a lot, this will for all intents and purposes, put people for the foreseeable future into a great deal of poverty and misery. There are centuries and centuries of installed capital within the areas that would be underwater. All of it will need to be replaced and the amount of energy and resources needed to replace this stuff is probably not going to be available in any meaningful time frame for humans. If we face lower energy and destruction equivalent to a war on every continent along the shore and rivers close to the shore, it will take centuries to rebuild all that lost capital. Nobody really knows for sure how much sea level rise we are already committed to. Of course this doesn't take any catastrophes into consideration. If we were to warm up enough to severely slow or possibly shut down the gulf stream, the UK will be pretty much uninhabitable. These things are very unlikely to happen in our lifetimes (even if your 16), so it's just speculation but worth thinking about for future generations.


It has worked before. We went from hunter gatherers to agriculture and had an energy windfall. It was only agriculture that allowed the ancient civilizations to spring up because at least 20% of the population could do something other than get energy (through hunting, tool making etc). Not only was it a major (for the time) energy surplus, but it also created civilization because the same amount of land could support a lot more people and so specialization became huge.


I'd love to know if you believe we will solve this thing before a tipping point is reached (assuming we haven't already crossed that threshold) and if you believe that we can support 7B people living at a European level of energy consumption? America is clearly not the model for energy consumption and Europeans seem to lead lives that are just as materially satisfying. I'd also like to hear what you think about the money system and how it's need to grow will affect the lives of people going forwards. My take on it is that it's a terrible system and is largely responsible for channeling financial assets into the hands of the wealthiest people, especially bankers.

TT
Wed Jul 16, 2014 4:56 am
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