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Global warming forecast ... from 1981

If it doesn't fit anywhere else, it fits here

Re: Global warming forecast ... from 1981

Postby kurt_w » Thu Apr 05, 2012 9:19 am

ArturoBandini wrote:The majority of any increases in CO2 emissions in the coming century will come from India, China, and other rapidly modernizing nations. Emissions from North American and western Europe are projected to plateau. People in those other nations deserve their shot at modernity, so as far as I'm concerned, burn away, people of China and India (just get your air pollution issues under control, jeez).


That's a reasonable argument in some ways. On the other hand, it's not necessarily that easy. My impression is that the economic benefits from modernization in China and especially India are very unevenly distributed. At the same time, the rural poor are far more vulnerable to climate extremes (drought and flooding). It's worth considering the possibility that the net benefits of [climate change + economic growth] might be positive for urban populations in India, but negative for rural populations. Or maybe not. Who knows?

In any case, yes, it's not feasible to adopt a climate mitigation strategy that revolves around Westerners living a profligately high-carbon lifestyle while other countries are told to just lump it. That's not going to happen, and I think everyone realizes that.

But the alternative probably can't be "burn all the coal you want, China and India" either. We need to develop a 21st century civilization that's economically and technologically advanced without being dependent on digging up and burning massive quantities of concentrated carbon-based fuels that took hundreds of millions of years to form.

If we can't do that, then in a few hundred years (if not sooner) our civilization will collapse anyway, because we will have used up all the fossil fuels that are economically retrievable.

Since we have to make that transition anyway, why not make it while we still have a 1.75x or 2xCO2 atmosphere, rather than a 3x or 4xCO2 atmosphere?

A stitch in time saves nine, and all that...
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Re: Global warming forecast ... from 1981

Postby kurt_w » Thu Apr 05, 2012 9:19 am

Whoops, sorry for the duplicate post.
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Re: Global warming forecast ... from 1981

Postby rabble » Thu Apr 05, 2012 9:23 am

Meade wrote:In other words, all the anti-nuke activists of the past several decades need to hang their heads in shame. It is long but here is a partial list:

For people who believe exactly the same thing on Wednesday as they believed on Monday, no matter what happened on Tuesday, and think everyone else does the same, those arguments must seem to be ironclad.

Way to stick to your guns, Meade. You should quit pointing them at your head, though.
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Re: Global warming forecast ... from 1981

Postby snoqueen » Thu Apr 05, 2012 9:33 am

Regarding strategies for mitigating carbon dioxide emission, I think for the US to lead the way in making appropriate investments to support activities and industries that make cleaner energy technologies available would be a positive step. This includes government actions at all levels as well as private initiatives. As pointed out, there's no magic bullet and for that reason it'll always be easy to ridicule various programs for their paltriness. That doesn't invalidate the overall effort or the individual program under consideration.

I've been impressed by the work being done by Germany on their country's energy usage. The US is way behind in this regard:

http://www.bmu.de/english/energy_effici ... /38275.php

Another part of the equation is encouraging and normalizing personal actions -- at any level, in any part of the world -- that ever-so-slightly reduce emissions. Again, it's easy to ridicule. But how else will change look while it's happening? The strongest incentives seem as always to be financial (my house is worth a lot more with the improvements I made, as I was well aware) but social incentives aren't at all useless.

Apparently nuclear is still on the table even after Fukushima. There's another discussion we need to have.
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Re: Global warming forecast ... from 1981

Postby kurt_w » Thu Apr 05, 2012 9:43 am

Increased use of nuclear power is Option 9 from Pacala and Socolow's list of potential stabilization wedges.

There are good reasons to want to expand nuclear power generation. There are also good reasons to be leery of our current network of aging, older-generation nuclear power plants, of our system for dealing with (or mostly not dealing with) waste, and of the way we currently design, site, and regulate nuclear power plants.

This shouldn't be an insurmountable problem. We ought to be able to have a nuclear power industry in 2050 that is both much larger and much safer than today.
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Re: Global warming forecast ... from 1981

Postby Bland » Thu Apr 05, 2012 9:48 am

Meade wrote:
kurt_w wrote:Reducing the use of coal will have many other benefits.

In other words, all the anti-nuke activists of the past several decades need to hang their heads in shame.

In other words, Meade cannot think of any alternatives to fossil fuels except for nuclear power.

That's some mighty deep thinking there, Meade.

Sigh.
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Re: Global warming forecast ... from 1981

Postby snoqueen » Thu Apr 05, 2012 9:51 am

I wondered if they'd reconsidered the nuclear option since the stabilization wedges paper was written in 2004, but I guess you (Kurt) are saying it's still in play. (I can't get in and read the whole text since I don't seem to be a subscriber.) I'm willing to consider modern nuclear plants as feasible, but has anybody figured out the waste storage issue?
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Re: Global warming forecast ... from 1981

Postby rabble » Thu Apr 05, 2012 10:00 am

kurt_w wrote:This shouldn't be an insurmountable problem. We ought to be able to have a nuclear power industry in 2050 that is both much larger and much safer than today.

I agree with that. I've begun to think that putting the toxic stuff in containers where we can deal with them might be better than putting the toxic stuff into the air where we can't.

As long as we also pump gazillions of dollars into solar, geothermal, wave, hydro, and all those other et ceteras, I'm okay with upgrading our nuclear policies and existing plants.

I find it unlikely that we can trust our leaders to do so, however. Not only will we not pump research money into alternatives, our "upgrading" will be done by corporations who will take great pains to be somewhere else (and have the bag in somebody else's hands) by the time any shit hits the fan.
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Re: Global warming forecast ... from 1981

Postby kurt_w » Thu Apr 05, 2012 10:11 am

Here's a 2011 commentary by Socolow on the "wedges" thing, which I think should be open-access. I don't agree completely with everything in it, but that's OK.

Most of what P & S have had to say about the downsides of the nuclear "wedge" seems to focus on non-proliferation issues and nuclear weapons. Obviously, in the real world, both Fukushima and the Obama administration's cancellation of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste depository need to be part of the picture.

Whatever the downsides of Yucca Mountain, it's hard for me to understand how it could be worse than the current arrangement, whereby nuclear waste is slowly piling up at power stations all over the US. Does it really make sense for waste to be stored for years and years on-site at Kewaunee and Point Beach, just a short distance from Lake Michigan?
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Re: Global warming forecast ... from 1981

Postby kurt_w » Thu Apr 05, 2012 10:14 am

rabble wrote:As long as we also pump gazillions of dollars into solar, geothermal, wave, hydro, and all those other et ceteras, I'm okay with upgrading our nuclear policies and existing plants.


Yeah, though I'd actually prefer to replace existing plants anyway. Most of our nuclear infrastructure is a couple of generations obsolete, and there are much safer and better designs now. We keep old and obsolete reactors running because it's become so difficult to build new ones, but that seems counterproductive to me.
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Re: Global warming forecast ... from 1981

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Thu Apr 05, 2012 10:31 am

kurt_w wrote:Does it really make sense for waste to be stored for years and years on-site at Kewaunee and Point Beach, just a short distance from Lake Michigan?
No, especially given that many of the on-site storage facilities are already over capacity.

As someone who has a long history of being supportive of nuclear power, I cannot in good conscience advocate any increase in plant construction until the issue of waste is resolved, and that's not gonna happen as long as people remain ignorant of the science and underlying technology. I never understood the complaints about Yucca Mountain, as they all seemed to hinge on problems which would not be arising for hundreds, if not thousands of years. The short-sightedness of that position paints a bleak, dispiriting picture of the ability of human beings to solve problems (something which we as a species have demonstrated a profound ability to do over many millenia.) The current situation is dangerous now. And all the anti-nuclear protesting in the world will not alleviate that danger. Even if all the plants currently operating were switched off today, their wastes would remain in overcrowded pools with nowhere to go. Yucca Mountain would have, if not provided a permanent solution, at least kicked the danger quite a ways down the road and allowed us and future generations of clever engineers to find an even better storage (or recycling) method. Those who blocked Yucca Mountain did so out of legitimate concerns, but without looking at the big picture.

For those who will assuredly say there is no way to make nuclear plants safe, I suggest reading this short article. The author is very clear about what mistakes were made at Fukushima and how we can be better prepared in the future, and frankly, it ain't rocket science.
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Re: Global warming forecast ... from 1981

Postby snoqueen » Thu Apr 05, 2012 10:33 am

Does it really make sense for waste to be stored for years and years on-site at Kewaunee and Point Beach, just a short distance from Lake Michigan?


Obviously not, but is one centralized storage site safer than dispersed storage (not on the lakeshore, obviously, but dispersed nationwide)?

And is the risk of transporting the waste manageable to a reasonable level of satisfaction?

I'm still among those who are hopeful conservation and alternative sources can, over time, remove the need for most new nuclear facilities but that can only happen if we're willing to make a lot of social changes and compromises.

Regarding US energy use, I still believe focusing on buildings isn't misdirected. Only a small decrease in regional usage can remove the necessity for building an additional generation facility:


Buildings accounted for 38.9 percent of total U.S. energy consumption in 2005. Residential buildings accounted for 53.7 percent of that total, while commercial buildings accounted for the other 46.3 percent.

Buildings accounted for 72 percent of total U.S. electricity consumption in 2006 and this number will rise to 75% by 2025. 51 percent of that total was attributed to residential building use, while 49 percent was attributed to commercial building usage.

The average household spends at least $2,000 a year on energy bills — over half of which goes to heating and cooling.

Out of the total energy consumption in an average household, 50% goes to space heating, 27% to run appliances, 19% to heat water and 4% goes to air conditioning.


from:
http://www.epa.gov/greenbuilding/pubs/gbstats.pdf
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Roman fire, anyone?

Postby Marvell » Thu Apr 05, 2012 12:05 pm

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:I never understood the complaints about Yucca Mountain, as they all seemed to hinge on problems which would not be arising for hundreds, if not thousands of years. The short-sightedness of that position paints a bleak, dispiriting picture of the ability of human beings to solve problems (something which we as a species have demonstrated a profound ability to do over many millenia.) The current situation is dangerous now. And all the anti-nuclear protesting in the world will not alleviate that danger. Even if all the plants currently operating were switched off today, their wastes would remain in overcrowded pools with nowhere to go. Yucca Mountain would have, if not provided a permanent solution, at least kicked the danger quite a ways down the road and allowed us and future generations of clever engineers to find an even better storage (or recycling) method. Those who blocked Yucca Mountain did so out of legitimate concerns, but without looking at the big picture.


Bwaaah?

For an atheist, you have a pretty faith-based take on this - one that I'm not sure the historical record substantiates.

See, for instance, the retrograde motion of civilization / technology that accompanied the collapse of pretty much every society that ever existed.

And I both dispute and resent the implication that someone being skeptical about a plan based on 'future generations of clever engineers' is 'not looking at the big picture.'

I saw Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure too; however, I did not interpret it as a suggested strategy for energy policy.
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Re: Global warming forecast ... from 1981

Postby ArturoBandini » Thu Apr 05, 2012 12:56 pm

snoqueen wrote:
Meade wrote:How about plagiarism? Are you actually much less interested in plagiarism?


Is it possible to plagiarize Wikipedia? (sure -- ask a high school teacher)

Then Meade just did it making that list:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-nucle ... ted_States
I was also perplexed by Meade's chastisement about plagiarism in a post where he clearly copied and pasted a huge list of names that he couldn't have generated all by himself (well, not without hours of careful research).
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Re: Roman fire, anyone?

Postby ArturoBandini » Thu Apr 05, 2012 1:04 pm

Marvell wrote:Bwaaah?

For an atheist, you have a pretty faith-based take on this - one that I'm not sure the historical record substantiates.

See, for instance, the retrograde motion of civilization / technology that accompanied the collapse of pretty much every society that ever existed.

And I both dispute and resent the implication that someone being skeptical about a plan based on 'future generations of clever engineers' is 'not looking at the big picture.'
Meh, this can go either way. Russell Brand's take on this is that, if civilization collapses to the extent that people forget about the dangers of nuclear waste and establish dwelling in waste storage casks or in Yucca Mountain, then humanity clearly has bigger problems than remnant nuclear waste. And the point of nuclear power is to continue the march of modernity, since that is something arguably worth pursuing. It can't be done forever on fossil fuels, maybe not on nuclear either, but it at least extends the timetable by which we make a transition to truly renewable energy sources (or find the next fossil fad).

Speaking of retrograde technology and civilization collapse, are you into John Michael Greer? I find his work pretty interesting. I haven't kept up with the blog lately, but I've read his book The Long Descent and it has influenced my thinking somewhat.
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