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Climate Solutions by dana1981

Posted on 8 July 2011 by dana1981

After publishing Throwing Down The Gauntlet, which encouraged everyone to take individual action to address climate change, actually thoughtful requested that other Skeptical Science contributors publish posts detailing what we've each done to reduce our personal greenhouse gas emissions.  This post is my response to that request, combined with what I think we should do on a larger scale to solve the climate problem.

Individual Steps

I'm a big believer that if you're going to talk the talk, you'd better walk the walk.  So I do what I can to reduce my personal carbon emissions.  I usually commute to work on either an electric moped (which I highly recommend) or on bicycle.  Once we could afford it, my wife and I bought the most fuel efficient car on the market - a 2007 Toyota Prius.  If I can't take the moped or bicycle to work, my wife and I carpool in the Prius.  I've also got a feather foot to maximize fuel efficiency around 50 miles per gallon.  When feasible I try to use mass transit (i.e. trains and light rail).

At home we take steps to minimize our energy consumption.  I was fortunate that my local electric utility had a home energy efficiency improvement program for low income households when I was between graduate school and career, and thus qualified for it.  Last August we started leasing solar panels from Sungevity (very cool company), and over the past 10 months, the panels have produced 275 kilowatt-hours more electricity than we've used (the excess goes into the power grid).  The solar panels also make my moped zero emissions.

Then of course I try to educate others about climate science.  I started out answering questions in the Yahoo Answers global warming section five years ago (that's me at the top of the 'top answerer' list in the right margin), and in September 2010 started contributing to Skeptical Science.

Finally, because I'm convinced we can't solve the climate problem without serious large-scale policy implementation, I make climate policy my #1 consideration when I go to the voting booth.  Whichever candidate has the best plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (and a serious chance to win) likely gets my vote.

Large-Scale Policies

I think the single most important step in solving the climate problem is the implementation of a carbon emissions price.  The "CO2 is plant food" crowd isn't going to like this next bit, but CO2 is a pollutant.  It endangers public health and welfare - not directly, but through its impacts on the climate.  Thus from a purely economic standpoint, allowing free unlimited carbon emissions is just plain stupid.  It's what economists call an "externality".

It's the equivalent of allowing polluters to dump hazardous waste into our waterways free of charge.  Eventually somebody - whoever comes in contact with that waste and experiences the associated health impacts - will pay the price for that pollution, but when it comes to carbon in our current system, it's not the polluter.  Thus the polluter has no incentive to stop polluting.

With other pollutants, we address this problem by either putting a price on their emissions, or by regulating them.  This results in both protecting public health and welfare, and also encourages polluters to find ways to reduce their pollutant production, which results in a net positive impact on the economy.  This is why there's an economic consensus that we should commit to reducing our carbon emissions.

And that's just the economic perspective.  There's also the scientific perspective that in order to give ourselves a chance to avoid dangerous warming, we need major emissions cuts (which we are currently miserably failing to achieve), and the biggest step to achieve these cuts is with some sort of carbon price.

I don't have any particular preference what form that carbon price takes, whether it be a tax or a cap and trade system.  A carbon tax is simpler with fewer loopholes to exploit, and can be offset by reductions in other taxes, as British Columbia is doing.  Personally I'd prefer to see at least some of the funds go towards programs and research to increase energy efficiency and develop and implement renewable energy technologies, as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative cap and trade system has accomplished.  As the recent Google.org study showed, I think the USA is missing a golden economic opportunity by failing to sufficiently invest in green technology development, which will likely come back to bite us.

There are many other reasons to reduce fossil fuel consumption, from domestic security and energy independence, to clean air and water, to addressing ocean acidification and peak oil, etc.  I've yet to see a single valid reason why we shouldn't take these steps, other than alarmist claims that doing so will cripple the economy, which are based on exaggerating the costs and ignoring the benefits of emissions reductions.  And yet the fossil fuel industries are so entrenched in our country that we continue to fail to take these steps which would benefit us in so many different ways.

It's difficult not to be discouraged by this self-destructive behavior.  For those of us who understand these issues, all we can do is take steps to reduce our own emissions, communicate the problem to others, and hope they follow suit.  Hopefully enough people will come to understand the magnitude of the problem and the urgent need to address it before it's too late.

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Comments 51 to 100 out of 126:

  1. Me and my husband both drive Toyota Prius's. Our average is well above 50 mpg though, especially in the summertime. We have no problem maintaining a 55 mpg average, and I always drive with my 2 kids and all their junk, so the car is quite heavy. Specifically for CBDunkerson, comment #3, the gas engine does not always kicks on at 25mph. It depends on how "heavy" your foot is and also on the charge of the electric battery. From my experience it kicks in at either: 8mph, 12mph, 17mph,25mph, or even 42 mph. Yes, you can drive at 41 mph without the gas engine, I do it everyday in a certain portion of my way home. Of course, the car has been working for 10-15min, the battery is well charged, the speed limit is low and usually there is no one behind me! We try to do a lot of other things (most of them already mentioned) to keep a low carbon footprint, but we also have family living overseas, so we travel to Europe at least once a year. A few other things we do is to use cloth diapers for our baby, line dry our clothes, cook baby food at home instead of buying baby food jars. Yes, it is a little extra work, but I do everything I can to make our carbon footprint the lowest possible.
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  2. Found this paper that looks at a long list of studies on well-to-wheel reports for EV, HEV and PHEV vs ICE vehicles.
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  3. I am sorry this post follows RE’s. I don’t mean to diss her or anyone else. She obviously makes many sacrifices as we all do. -- My wife and I went out of our way not to have any kids. (That's the biggie). I could go on about how we conserve and how we travel (and avoid doing so) and how we turn off lights, eat less meat, recycle and reuse etc. It is all true. Some of it may sound impressive (solar panels, passive solar home, heat pump, ’04 Honda Insight, I haven’t flown in over 3 years, buy local, etc) but I would be misrepresenting us if I didn’t admit that I still go skiing sometimes in the winter, or that I own a 4WD truck to help me gather downed firewood that provides most of our winter heat from our CARB stove. Combine that with Jevon’s Paradox (which is a bitch despite what, Joe has to say) and it makes it tough to live in the developed world and feel good about one’s lifestyle. Our taxes alone probably support a CO2 footprint that is unsustainable.
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  4. Mark Harrigan @ 23 - this is another, insidious, form of denialism: "it can't be done". Earlier this week I had a challenge - how to use off the shelf parts to create a thermostat system that would use solar when it was available to store EXTRA energy in the slab of a radiantly heated home, and use boiler when necessary for space heating. Anytime you have renewable energy as the heat source, you have the "quality" problem of using the free energy to create more comfort (74F in the winter instead of 68F), which has the byproduct of reducing energy bills as the back up heat now doesn't come on until you slide down from the toasty 74F to 68F - when you leave the wacky world of fossil fuels, things tend to improve. Although simple to describe, it is actually quite challenging and I have been working on it, on and off, since 2006. In a carbon-taxed world, this would be solved with (cheap) electronics. World class control companies such as Tekmar, Honeywell, Wirsbo/Uponor have NOT solved this problem (well, Uponor came up with a quote of $15,000 to implement the solution I designed). So let me say, no cost effective solutions. I now have the solution. My own (obviously humble) ingenuity solved this problem (for a couple hundred bucks). So this illustrates a couple of points, I think: 1) If the problems of carbon were internalized (instead of being an economic externality) - I would never have had this problem - I would go to the local supply house and choose which of the 10 thermostat/control systems that already solved this I preferred - the free market would EASILY solve this problem 2)If a lousy plumber can figure out challenging control problems along the road to maximizing renewables - imagine the HUGE steps we will take as soon as we unleash the big brains on these issues. Big brains come when there is demand. Demand is created by people taking action (be it motivated by a systemic change like a carbon tax, or by WE THE PEOPLE realizing a change must be made. People are sheeple - exploit this reality for the good of humanity. "It can't be done" is the same as "let the government solve it" is the same as "it isn't that bad" is the same as "there is no problem" - it is all denialism, denying we have a problem and we HAVE to solve it, right away. It can be done, we can do it, and many posting in this thread are SHOWING how to do it. I personally think it is hypocritical to call for mass, government action before taking personal action. Be internally consistent. And instead of finding ways it can't be done, go out and do somethingthat solves the problem. (I don't mean to sound too harsh, I realize you are someone who takes the problem seriously - perhaps it is even more aggravating to find stealth denialism in one who understands the problem so well).
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  5. There are lists upon lists of things we can do. The most important thing we can do is stop the denial. It is like an alcoholic, first step is to admit to the problem. Because without that step, all others are ineffective or sabotaged. That is why the battle over denial is so fierce - because once that step is taken, then all other steps can become more effective. And thanks go to John Cook and SkepticalScience team for making that happen.
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  6. Quokka mentions the Finnish experience in Nuclear power-probably not wise given that there most recent foray into nuclear energy is turning into a debacle. The 1600MW power station was started in 2003 & supposed to be completed by 2009. It is now not expected to go online until either the end of 2013 or the start of 2014-with each additional year of delay adding EU$1 billion to the fixed price of EU$3 billion price tag. So by the time it goes online-almost 5 years behind schedule (assuming there aren't further delays) then it will have a final price tag of around EU$8 billion-or around EU$5 million per MW of installed capacity. For a price of less than EU$2 million per MW, they could have installed around 800MW of Wind Turbines by now. What is particularly funny is that Nuclear Power is running into these kinds of issues in spite of being a *mature* technology-one which has enjoyed hundreds of billions of dollars in Government subsidies over the decades-much like fossil fuels.
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  7. I don't drive at all. I use the train & buses to get around (our trains are currently diesel, though they're going to be electrified within the next couple of years, & our buses all run on natural gas). I'm on a 100% Green Energy scheme, but only use around 5kw-h of electricity per day due to a variety of energy efficiency measures I've put in place over the years.
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  8. RE #51, actually I was talking about the specific 'electric only' mode in the 2009 and later models (EV button). In that mode you can accelerate much faster on electric power, but if you hit 26 mph the gasoline engine kicks on. Alternatively, in 'normal' mode you can be careful to accelerate slowly and get up to 40 mph on a flat roadway without using gas. It's just alot easier to do, with alot more acceleration flexibility, in EV mode... until you hit 26 mph.
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  9. We just switched washer and dryer to more modern, energy efficient and water minimizing devices. We also line dry inside in winter which humidifies the house. Attic fans instead of air conditioners where possible. But we'll never be deep greens, and I'm concerned that a lot of infrastructure that we depend on, from computers to medical technology requires not getting too green. Just as there are tipping points in climate, there are tipping points in the global economy/economic/technology ecosystem. We built it on fossil fuels, easily available iron, water. It's not likely to be rebuilt after a collapse or a walk-away...your view may vary both on that prediction and whether you want to keep it. I do. Self-interest....I'd be many times dead without it.
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  10. @ mike at 31 You might want to read Forster's response at the bottom of the long list of comments. You'll find it very educational.
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  11. #50 Marcus Areva and Toshiba have just recently been invited to present bids for another nuclear power plant for Finland, so it seems that Finland does not consider they have made a mistake in committing to expanding their nuclear capacity. Nuclear builders place their bids The most recent cost estimate that I can find for the total project cost for Olkiluoto 3 is EUR 6.4 billion. That is about EUR 3.88 per GWe or USD 5.55 per GWe at current exchange rate. You state that the cost of wind is EUR 2 billion per GWe which seems a reasonable ball park figure, and may even be a little high. But you fail to state that the capacity factor is likely to be around 30% for wind compared to 90+% for the EPR. It seems that a first of a kind nuclear power plant with big cost overruns is still cheaper than many of a kind wind. The NPP generates reliable base load electricity. Large first of a kind projects are almost always more expensive for a host of reasons; lessons are learned and project costs drop in subsequent builds. The UK Royal Academy of Engineering in conjunction with the Institution of Civil Engineers and other professional bodies has produced a report Engineering the Future: Nuclear Lessons Learned which details many of the issues and reviews a number of current nuclear projects including Olkiluoto 3 and the other EPR projects in France and China. The Chinese EPR projects, which have commenced later, have benefited from lessons learned and seem to be on schedule. It is a very interesting report. The newest nuclear power plant in South Korea: Shin Kori 1 took just four years to build from first concrete to grid connection with a further six months commissioning. The benefits of standardized design and several of a kind are substantial. We need to look at all of the evidence.
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  12. To Actually thoughtful @ 54 Good moniker because I can see that you are! But with due respect your anecdotal experience isn't the issue. Although I do applaud your personal efforts and its something we can all do, it's not enough. I can relate some things I have done too and what we do as individuals IS important - and of course that was the challenge of this thread and it's good to see what actions people are taking at an individual level - it can all add up. But I completely reject your description of "stealth denialism". I do not deny that we need to increase our use of renewables - or that we ought to be trying as much as we can to do so. But I do argue that the unrealistic proseltysing of renewables as being already able to solve the problem flies in the face of the evidence and is itself a damaging form of denilaism that actually impedes progress. There are some realities we need to deal with First is that personal/domestic consumption of elctricity is (a) less than 1/3 of the total (at least in Australia its less than 28%) and (b) is frankly a lot more amenable to changes in usage patterns Second the reality for industry is a LOT different. They are far more dependent on reliable supply 24/7 and this is where the economic impact lies. Third is that the cost renewables remains stubbornly high Fourth there is nowehere in the world today where renewables are able to supply reliable supply to industry at a capacity factor anywhere near fossil fuels or nuclear. This is why wind and solar often need CO2 producing backup to make them reliable which adds to the cost and the emissions. The Diesendorf plan (on another thread) is an attempt to address this but it is as yet unproven So I dispute your comment that I am in denial about renewables - in fact I claim that those who proselytise that renewables can provide a very high percentage of the answer are in denial of the evidence and also guilty of environmental vanfalism and imposing unreasonable high costs on the world's poor. That doesn't mean I am against action - far from it - but I want to see realistic test proposals put forwards to advance the cause of renewables. For example - in 2009 Australia renewables accounted for less than 7% of generation. It would require an annual growth rate of 10% year on year to get that to 20% in 2020. In would take that growth rate till 2037 to get to 100%. yet many think we should be there before then Quite frankly that is unrealistic. For a start most investment horizons are at least 10 years - so we need to KNOW that this was possible around 15 years from now. Also 10% compound growth is virtually an impossibility (early years are probably easier but later years are MUCH harder). Instead of unrealistic plans based on wishful thinking to get us to 100% renewables in short order I want to see much more realistic approaches. I hope this site continues to be a place where this can be debated - I know it's orginal intention was to bebunk the AGW deniers - and that still needs doing - but the focus of the debate needs to be on what to do now - and wishful thinking is not enough
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  13. Dave123@59: "We also line dry inside in winter which humidifies the house. Attic fans instead of air conditioners where possible." This can be a problem in that condensation can attract mould. I have no idea where you live, but why is air conditioning or fans required? Dave123@59: "Self-interest....I'd be many times dead without it." How many times would you be dead without the mutual support of other human beings? I don't think your statement has a lot of credibility.
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  14. Mark Harrigan: "Fourth there is nowehere in the world today where renewables are able to supply reliable supply to industry at a capacity factor anywhere near fossil fuels or nuclear." Yes but industry as it stands is a product of the energy supply, not the other way around. You only perceive it to be the other way around because you have been born into a society that has been dependent on the system for many decades. FYI large scale power stations were built and then (at least in the UK) the energy companies needed consumer products that would soak up the spare capacity. Also you neglect the fact that there is capacity in modern products for them to intelligently decide whether they need energy or not based on monitoring their own requirements and on what is available from the grid at any point in time. Is this fiction? Not when one of the biggest supermarkets in the UK is installing refigeration in 200 stores that do exactly this.
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  15. Paul D You say:
    Yes but industry as it stands is a product of the energy supply, not the other way around. You only perceive it to be the other way around because you have been born into a society that has been dependent on the system for many decades.
    - Chicken and egg reasoning - Are you suggesting industrial economies must be dismantled? - If so, What policy mechanisms should be employed? - How do you envisage a politically surviable delivery of same?
    FYI large scale power stations were built and then (at least in the UK) the energy companies needed consumer products that would soak up the spare capacity.
    Your source for this?
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  16. BBD: "Your source for this?" During the 1940s and 1950s there was a state programme to expand the electricity generation capacity and grid system. Because the power stations were designed to run constantly, when there were dips in demand, it caused load balancing problems. So the national electricity 'boards' set up shops and showrooms across the UK to sell washing machines, cookers and heaters and other consumer gadgets in order to justify the building programme and fill the load troughs. http://www.twixtaireandcalder.org.uk/WakefieldCMS/Pages/TAandC/ImageView.aspx?source=l01268&thumbnail=False Also logically you can only sell the gadgets once the infrastructure is in place, not the other way around. No one is going to buy an electric cooker first, if they don't have a house wired for electricity. So the massive investment drove energy supply first, then the energy companies promote the convenience of using it.
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  17. BBD: "Chicken and egg reasoning" Hardly. As I stated in 66, who is going to buy electrical consumer goods if there is no infrastructure? The infrastructure has to be put in place first and then the promotion and advertising begins, to get people to buy cookers and washing machines to plug in.
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  18. Mark Harrigan: "Second the reality for industry is a LOT different. They are far more dependent on reliable supply 24/7 and this is where the economic impact lies." Actually it isn't always straight forward. Look up 'Constraint Management' Some businesses in the UK have contracts in which they can be cut off for short periods in return for a discount. This is in case there are local load balancing issues. Businesses may have to shut down for a day or so or provide backup generation.
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  19. Paul D So we have a post-war UK energy policy which installs baseload. The benefit is improved public amenity (electric cookers, washing machines, dryers, heaters etc). You appear to suggest (though I may misunderstand you) that this process was somehow wrong. Do you argue that all washing machines and other labour-saving devices should be forgone? If so, what about the impact on domestic labour? Not to be coy, I mean on women. The post-war enconomy in the industrialised West has benefitted (and will continue to benefit) from an influx of women freed from time-intensive domestic labour by what you call 'gadgets'. I'm interested in your views on this.
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  20. I think there are huge gains to be made in efficiency. After fixing a 10 year old washer twice and the dryer twice, I replace with new models that cut water use by factor of 3 and electric use by factor of 4. I estimate (in midwest and NE USA) just doing this in industrial, agricultural and commercial settings is a big win, and i am personally familiar with large commercial laundries, and large farm operations converting to solar hot water preheat and efficient lighting with even better results than my puny washer and dryer. In the case of one large chicken operation, going to solar hotwater preheat saved the business. Snowfall blocked the propane trucks from getting through, electric line faulted with fallen trees, but the large 30 kilogallon tank of hot water and enough sun kept the birds and animals alive till they bulldozed access.
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  21. Quokka-even those who spruik Nuclear Power admit that tripling capacity will-at best-reduce global CO2 emissions by no more than 12%-yet then we'll be in a situation where known Uranium Reserves will last less than 50 years. Sure we might find some more-but how much land will need to get overturned in order to both extract that uranium & store the resulting waste by-products of the entire nuclear fuel cycle? Meanwhile, it is entirely possible to store sufficient Wind Power to achieve base-load power output, if you'd ever bothered to do research into various storage mechanisms. Also, some Wind Turbines have Capacity Factors as high as 40% *without* storage-& this is expected to improve even more over time. So it really seems to me, Quokka, that you're ignoring all the inconvenient facts about significant improvements in *all* renewable energy technologies-so that you can keep spruiking the false hope offered to us by Nuclear Power.
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  22. Mark Harrigan. Australia's total demand for electricity is around 210TWh of electricity per year. Germany, a Country that does *not* enjoy the enormous benefits of our ample sunshine, our massive coastline or our huge land area, is able to generate 100TWh of electricity from renewable sources (not including large hydro power). They have done this *without* causing large increases in the average family electricity bill. Australia, meanwhile, still only generates around 5TWh of electricity from renewable sources. So the question is-why the massive discrepancy? In fact, Australia has one of the lowest levels of Renewable Energy Generation in the OECD-something we should be appalled by given the fact that much of the ground-breaking advances in the field were made by Australian Researchers-most of whom had to go overseas due to a lack of support. As to your claims that the price of renewable energy remains "stubbornly high", that's just a load of rubbish. Photovoltaic Cells have dropped in price from around $25 per watt to less than $4 per watt in the space of less than 30 years-whilst simultaneously improving *average* efficiency from less than 5% to more than 20% in the that same space of time-all on a fraction of the government support that either coal or nuclear power have enjoyed. The same is true of all the other renewable energy technologies-they have shown a massive & significant decline in price in a few short decades, whilst simultaneously boosting their efficiency. Who knows how much more they would have improved if governments had supported them as much as they support *mature* technologies.
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  23. @BBD. Paul D is correct. Here in Australia our base-load generates produce large amounts of waste electricity-especially at night-& so the electricity industry has come up with some ingenious ways to flog off that extra capacity-which have in turn driven the development of our economy. For example, they created the whole "off-peak electric" system to flog off excess power at night-mostly for the purpose of keeping water hot-even though on demand systems are clearly a more cost effective way of providing hot water. The Industrial Sector also gets a per unit discount on its electricity prices the more electricity it uses-which has led to our industries being quite energy intensive compared to those in other economies. Two classic cases of the tail wagging the dog.
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  24. BBD: "So we have a post-war UK energy policy which installs baseload. The benefit is improved public amenity (electric cookers, washing machines, dryers, heaters etc)." That is a distortion of the reality and a distortion of the truth. People had cookers and fires or heaters, using coal and gas or wood. Government policy was interested in economics to improve income (taxes) of the socialist state, that was the primary reason that the power stations were built. In order to soak up the surplus electricity high power consumer goods were promoted. Mostly electric goods replaced existing items. Electric heaters were promoted to either replace coal, gas or wood, or to supplement those. eg. An electric kettle replaced a stove top kettle. Although I remember many people continued to use stove top kettles well into the 1970s and 1980s because they were cheaper. During WWII people (UK) used coal, gas and electric heating. The government issued leaflets that showed people how to save energy for all types of heating. The point is post war policy was to push people into using more electricity in preference to the other sources. That changed later when North Sea Gas became available, that created new promotions to change again. None of this was driven by the customer. The infrastructure was built first, then the public were inundated with pressures (carrots) to change.
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  25. BBD in comment 65 you stated that my statement was: "Chicken and egg reasoning" Yet in comment 69 you state: "So we have a post-war UK energy policy which installs baseload." That contradicts your chicken and egg statement. I take your second comment as an admission that you comment in 65 is incorrect.
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  26. BBD: "The post-war enconomy in the industrialised West has benefitted (and will continue to benefit) from an influx of women freed from time-intensive domestic labour by what you call 'gadgets'." Actually you are just stating that sexism exists and that men are incapable of doing house work! Although domestic gadgets are credited as allowing women to work. In the UK women did all types of jobs during WWII including flying bombers and fighters from factories to airfields. So the issue wasn't about gadgets, it was about cultural attitudes to work and place in society. What you have stated is that instead of dealing with the problem, technology has been used to mask it.
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  27. @ Marcus #72 - you make some good points but your figures are a little misleading. Australia's generation was actually 230TWh in 08/09 of which roughly 7% was renewables - so roughly 16THw - but by far the bulk of this Hydro (5% of the 7%) which doesn't have much capacity to scale much further. That's about 4.6TWh from "new" renewables so I presume that's the 5 you are talking about. So we have a long way to go Your figure for Germany's 101Twh in 2010 is correct but it INCLUDES nearly 20 hydro and 34 biomass (which doesn't cut it as a CO2 emssions free technology). So the real comparison figure is less than 50TWh from comparable technologies. (see Wikipedia) German Renewables But I agree with the overall thrust of your point - we could do a whole lot better and if Germany can do 50TWh using Wind, Solar and Geothermal then why can't we? Well, price is one (see below) As for your statement about renewables costs - sorry but that's boosterism. If you are going to assert someone else's statement is rubbish as you did to me then you need to back it up with evidence. My evidence below says you are wrong. I agree renewables are getting cheaper all the time - which is encouragning - and wind is getting competitive (if only it were more reliable?) but solar still has a LONG way to go - especially CST which is by far the most promising alternative for baseload. It is also an entirely false assumption to assume that reductions achieved over the last 30 years can actually continue - Solar PV is already close to the limits of physical efficiency today - so the evidence is not nearly so strong that it will keep getting cheaper. Relative Energy Costs Please don't misunderstand me. I am in favour of renewables but argue that over stating their case or understanding their costs actually harms the cause. We have to deal with what's real. The other factor you're missing is costs of electricty and the impacts this has on industry. The average consumer tariff in Australia is about 18c/KWh - In Germany its over 25 euso cents per KWh or more than 33c/KWh on current exchange. Of course Industry pays a lot less. So Australia enjoys a low price for electricty as part of it's economic structure. Germany can (apparently) afford a higher tariff because it has other industrial structural advantages. I find it telling that they are choosing to phase out nuclear ahead of coal right now so maybe things there aren't quite what they seem? So all that also places some economic limits on what can be done in Australia - or at least how fast we can afford to move. The Carbon Tax announcement today and the plans to fund/finance more investment in renewables is however a positive step forwards. I hope it will lead to actions that will continue to advance the relaibility of CO2 free alternatives as well as reduce their overall costs AND in a managed transition that sees us gradually wean ourslevs off coal without the lights going out.
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  28. #71 Marcus, How about some sort of reference to back up your claims about uranium supply limitations? From the MIT 2010 Future of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle report:
    Uranium resources will not be a constraint for a long time. The cost of uranium today is 2 to 4% of the cost of electricity. Our analysis of uranium mining costs versus cumulative production in a world with ten times as many LWRs [my emphasis] and each LWR operating for 60 years indicates a probable 50% increase in uranium costs. Such a modest increase in uranium costs would not significantly impact nuclear power economics.
    This is for a once through fuel cycle. Development of advanced closed fuel cycle technologies vastly increase the nuclear fuel resource over and above this assessment. There is ongoing R&D into the latter is several nuclear nations. Further, I hardly think that a threefold expansion of world nuclear capacity is something to be sniffed at, as you do. Such an expansion would see nuclear producing 40% of current world electricity supply and displacing rather a lot of coal burners. We could really do with comments falsely attributing statements or claims to "those who spruik Nuclear Power" or those who "spruik" anything else, and then declaring those made up claims to be fact.
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  29. Paul D
    What you have stated is that instead of dealing with the problem, technology has been used to mask it.
    Astonishing. In summary, you appear to believe that - all infrastructure development post-1945 to be 'bad' capitalism - the consequence has had no meaningful demographic impact (your statement about women in the workforce during WWII is beside the point). It is post-war peacetime economics we are discussing here - you must ask: why did the post-war expansion in baseload occur? Was it an evil capitalist plot or a rational response to development, ongoing electrification of the housing stock, plans for new-build to accommodate a growing population etc? - the issue involved 'gadgets' as much as cultural attitudes to women in the workplace. These were changed by the wartime experience, and post-war, women began to achieve their potential. It took decades, and would not have been possible without time reallocation thanks to labour-saving devices. Sorry, gadgets. BTW you're lucky Mrs BBD is out ;-)
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  30. Paul D Sorry - meant to ask: have you ever used a solid-fuel range for cooking? It's not much fun. And you have to get up at the crack of dawn to get the wretched thing going so you can heat your passive kettle and cook breakfast.
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  31. BBD @ 79... Had to chuckle a bit at your comment on post-war baseload expansion. Hell, by today's extremist rhetoric that expansion was pure socialism, not capitalism. Post WW2 had top tax brackets hit with a 90% tax rate. Immediately following WW2 was a period known as "The Great Compression" where massive amounts of wealth basically was redistributed to the middle class over the course of a decade. The development during that period was the government spending those tax dollars creating, what was at the time, state of the art infrastructure. I'm on kind of a theme right now since I'm visiting family in China... but what you saw in the US after WW2 was almost exactly what you see going on today in China. A government with lots of capital and a clear purpose to build out a broad middle class. (Feel free to delete this comment if it's too far off topic or too political in nature.)
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  32. Marcus #73 Do you have grid load curves to support this? Standard grid balancing uses intermediate and peaking plant to deal with variability. Baseload is not usually under-utilised. 'Off peak' incentives are targeted at keeping intermediate plant within optimum output parameters. I'm very interested where you get this. Can you provide more information? Thanks
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  33. Rob Honeycutt #81 Thanks for the US perspective. Paul D and I were discussing the UK, but broadly similar development took place in all industrialised economies. Agree wrt the creation of a Chinese (consumer) middle class. Which will of course help to propel global CO2 ppmv to new heights irrespective of treaty/tax/cap policy measures taken by the West. Same applies to India. It just isn't as far along the road as China.
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  34. BBD @ 83... I would say that remains to be seen how China's impact on CO2 plays out. They are certainly out pacing the US on nearly every front related to renewables. They're investing heavily in their own smart grid. The average middle class Chinese person still has a carbon footprint that is a fraction of any western country.
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  35. BBD@79 "all infrastructure development post-1945 to be 'bad' capitalism" You are a strange person BBD (an American ideologist??). I suggest you actually read my posts. Post war, the UK was deeply socialist, so I don't know where you get the idea that being critical of post war British policies is a critique of capitalism??? Most of big UK industry was nationalised after WWII. That includes energy production.
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  36. BBD@79: "the consequence has had no meaningful demographic impact (your statement about women in the workforce during WWII is beside the point). It is post-war peacetime economics we are discussing here" Well you can't cherry pick a point in history and pretend that periods before and after were some sort of islands of isolation. WWII had a big impact in British politics. We aren't actually discussing economics, we are discussing British history, politics and culture. You may want to discuss a subject, but you are not the judge here.
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  37. BBD@79 "the issue involved 'gadgets' as much as cultural attitudes to women in the workplace. These were changed by the wartime experience, and post-war, women began to achieve their potential. It took decades, and would not have been possible without time reallocation thanks to labour-saving devices. Sorry, gadgets." Do not repeat misleading facts and ignore my rebuttals. All you have proven here is what I already stated in my comment number 76. That culturally, in the past, men basically refused to be house husbands and woman were expected to stay at home. Given that in WWII a lot of farm and industrial work was done by women because men were not available, your argument that it was gadgets that allowed woman to work is misleading. Clearly if gadgets were the only way women could leave the home then it just re-enforces the idea that there was/is a lack of equality between men and women. If you look at adverts for vacuum cleaners and other devices of the period, they are deeply patronising by today's standards.
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    Response:

    [DB] We are getting a little far off-topic here.

  38. Rob Honeycutt #84 China is the largest CO2 emitter in the world (23.33% CDIAC figures). I don't care any more about the per capita arguments than the atmosphere does. The Chinese economy is almost entirely powered by coal. Rhetoric from Beijing about smart grids and renewables is intended to distract from this. Unfortunately, it works quite well in some quarters. Here are the facts: CDIAC analysis:
    According to reported energy statistics, coal production and use in China has increased ten-fold since the 1960s. As a result, Chinese fossil-fuel CO2 emissions have grown a remarkable 92.0% since 2000 alone. At 1.78 billion metric tons of carbon in 2007, the People's Republic of China is the world's largest emitter of CO2 due to fossil-fuel use and cement production. Even with the reported decline in Chinese emissions from 1997 to 2000, China's industrial emissions of CO2 have grown phenomenally since 1950, when China stood tenth among nations based on annual fossil-fuel CO2 emissions. From 1970 to 1997, China's fossil-fuel CO2 emissions grew at an annual rate of 5.4%. Growth has occurred largely in the use of coal, not surprising given China is the world's largest coal producer, which accounted for 98.7% of the emissions total in 1950 and 72.0% in 2007. Liquid fuels now contribute 15.5% of emissions and have grown appreciably over the past decade. The anomalous peak for 1958-61 is common in Chinese data. These years are part of the period "The Great Leap Forward," and whether the anomaly represents a real event in CO2 emissions or a data residual is not clear. China is the world's largest hydraulic cement producer. In 2007 China produced over 1.35 billion metric tons of hydraulic cement, almost half of the world's production. Emissions from cement production account for 10.3% of China's 2007 total industrial CO2 emissions. China's population has doubled over the past four decades and now exceeds 1.3 billion people. Per capita emissions increased considerably over this period and 2006 marked the first year China's per capita emission rate (1.27 metric tons of carbon) exceeded the global average (1.25 metric tons of carbon).
    [Emphasis added.] EIA region analysis. (Please scroll down for Coal. Note the graphs for China's coal production and consumption 1999 - 2009 and China's electricity generation by fuel type, 1999 - 2009. They summarise it all neatly).
    According to the World Energy Council, China held an estimated 114.5 billion short tons of recoverable coal reserves in 2009, the third-largest in the world behind the United States and Russia, and equivalent to about 14 percent of the world's total reserves. Coal production rose to almost 3.4 billion short tons in 2009, making China the largest coal producer in the world. There are 27 provinces in China that produce coal, and slightly greater than half of China's coal is used for power generation. Northern China, especially the Shanxi and Inner Mongolia Provinces, contains most of China's easily accessible coal and virtually all of the large state-owned mines. Coal makes up 71 percent of China's total primary energy consumption, and in 2009, China consumed an estimated 3.5 billion short tons of coal, representing over 46 percent of the world total and a 180 percent increase since 2000. Coal consumption has been on the rise in China over the last nine years, reversing the decline seen from 1996 to 2000. China's coal imports started growing after 2002 because the cost of importing coal became competitive with domestic production. China, typically a net coal exporter, became a net coal importer in 2009, importing from Indonesia, Australia, Vietnam, and Russia. In September 2009, the China Coal Transportation and Distribution Association stated that China signed a $6 billion loan-for-coal agreement with Russia for 15 to 20 million tons of coal for 25 years.
    [Emphasis added.]
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  39. Rob Thanks for prompting me to learn how to post images here ;-)
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  40. Mark Harrigan - We couldn't fly before the Wright Brothers. No one understood relativity before Einstein. Not many people were even thinking about it. Going to the moon was a dream for thousands of years. You severely underestimate what humanity can do. And, with respect, it is a form of denial. It is a way to take the pressure of responsibility off of collective humanity. I, for one, reject it.
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  41. BBD@88 "China is the largest CO2 emitter in the world (23.33% CDIAC figures). I don't care any more about the per capita arguments than the atmosphere does." I don't think anyone really cares that you don't care. The per capita emissions are relevant because they are linked to efficiency of energy use and wealth per capita.
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  42. Paul D See #88 #89. And please try to be more polite. Your tone is unnecessarily sharp.
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  43. BBD@88 "The Chinese economy is almost entirely powered by coal. Rhetoric from Beijing about smart grids and renewables is intended to distract from this." That again is an opinion not fact. You are posing a nationalistic patriotic view, not one based on statistics or real information. Given that you don't actually know whether your statement is true or not, your statement isn't relevant.
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  44. Paul D 23.33% is still 23.33%. It's mostly coal, and that won't change any time soon. China cannot afford to slow the rate at which it grows its own consumer class (internal markets). This is the uneasy deal it has made with its people. It's in a difficult situation.
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  45. BBD:92 "See #88 #89. And please try to be more polite. Your tone is unnecessarily sharp." Red herring. Please address the core of the comment I made.
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  46. Paul D
    That again is an opinion not fact. You are posing a nationalistic patriotic view, not one based on statistics or real information. Given that you don't actually know whether your statement is true or not, your statement isn't relevant.
    Er, #88 and #89? CDIAC and the EIA not good enough? And where does the 'nationalistic patriotic' thing come from? Seriously? Are you being disputatious for the sake of it? If so, it's tiresome.
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  47. BBD@96 You have not addressed the fact that carbon emissions per capita are indeed important. In fact you are even contradicting your own previous comments by caring about China's emissions. You have also failed to address the mistakes you have made regarding UK post war politics and history. In order for you to move onto a different subject, I suggest you address these matters. Don't brush them under the carpet.
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  48. Paul D The moderator has indicated that the UK history discussion was OT. Where do I contradict a previous comment or comments by 'caring' about China's emissions? That, I thought, was the central point. Radiative physics doesn't 'care' about the per capita emissions. It responds to ppmv atmospheric CO2. Therefore the source of China's energy is the issue. It is predominantly coal (#88 #89). The 'other renewables' line (green) on the second graph in #89 is so thin it's hard to see.
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    Response:

    [DB] My point was that the dialogue was devolving into minutia such as equality of the sexes in Britain (about as off-topic in a climate science blog as ye olde price-of-tea-in-China).  This is a more loose thread than most, so feel free to answer the question so we can move on to more substantive issues.

  49. BBD@98 "Radiative physics doesn't 'care' about the per capita emissions. It responds to ppmv atmospheric CO2." There are two issues here. The science and the politics. The science doesn't care. But you are talking about policy, not science. BBD@98 "Therefore the source of China's energy is the issue. It is predominantly coal (#88 #89). The 'other renewables' line (green) on the second graph in #89 is so thin it's hard to see." Every countries carbon emissions are an issue. Taking issue with China doesn't detract from the fact that the US and other nations also have a problem. Blaming others doesn't solve a problem unless you are only interested in relative political power and influence. Again that is politics, not science. Which contradicts your insistence on ignoring per capita emissions and revert back to science, away from politics. The other point is that 20% to 30% of Chinas emissions have been imported from the US and other industrialised nations. Is China a problem. Yes it sure is. American and European corporations have moved production there, masking per capita emissions of those particular countries. Maybe the atmosphere doesn't care where emissions come from, but humans do and we are the ones that should stop denying our responsibility and start accepting the implications of our actions.
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  50. Paul D I do not deny our responsibility and of course I am aware of the exported emissions issue. However, as we are discussing policy, I refer you to #94. Going forward, China's emissions growth will be substantially fuelled by serving its own internal consumer markets. I'm not trying to point the finger at China and exculpate the West. Simply to show that Western emissions policy is not going to impinge on the likely source of most of China's future emissions. WRT the UK discussion, I cannot engage seriously with your profoundly anti-capitalist interpretation of post-war energy policy. You disavow this above, but present all change post-war as negative. Progress = negative = anti-capitalist world view. This is less than half of a balanced view.
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