Author Topic: The Official Climate Change Thread  (Read 31157 times)

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Offline GuineaPig

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Re: The Official Global Warming Thread
« Reply #210 on: December 01, 2011, 01:03:22 PM »
The premise of the research behind the article was to use reconstructions of the most recent glacial maximum (ice age, in layman's term) to determine whether there is a threshold or equilibrium for CO2's effect on global temperatures.  The conclusion they reach is that the mean effect of a doubling of the atmosphere's CO2 concentration would be a temperature rise of ~2.3 degrees Kelvin, lower than previous estimates which were ~3 degrees Kelvin.

This paper shouldn't have a huge influence.  There are some problems with the approach (of people trying to claim the paper contains huge implications, rather than the authors themselves, it should be noted); using a global cooling event driven by a radiative forcing (and only one) to attempt to predict the effects of CO2 on climate in anthropogenic-forced warming can be questioned.  Also, given we've already experienced a pre-Industrial warming of about 0.8 degrees with a 20% increase in CO2 concentration, one wonders how well their model fits with warming experienced already (the authors note uncertainties with regards to aerosol forcing and ocean uptake).  Essentially, the scope of the implications are a lot smaller than some would want it to be.

In the end of the day, it's just one paper.  Climate science, like every discipline, is a cumulative effort; this paper is just another in a line of them attempting to isolate or determine the influence of CO2 on our climate.  The conclusions of this paper, or further papers built upon the research in it, will be integrated into the next IPCC.  Predictions of warming in the future aren't based on one or two cherry-picked models, but a swath of them. 

EDIT: Like I said, the paper says a lot less than some would want.  Apparently it's being tossed around the internet as "proof" CO2 doesn't affect temperature as much as previously thought.  Those people probably didn't read it.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2011, 01:50:18 PM by GuineaPig »
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Offline William Wallace

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Re: The Official Global Warming Thread
« Reply #211 on: December 01, 2011, 01:58:03 PM »
The premise of the research behind the article was to use reconstructions of the most recent glacial maximum (ice age, in layman's term) to determine whether there is a threshold or equilibrium for CO2's effect on global temperatures.  The conclusion they reach is that the mean effect of a doubling of the atmosphere's CO2 concentration would be a temperature rise of ~2.3 degrees Kelvin, lower than previous estimates which were ~3 degrees Kelvin.

This paper shouldn't have a huge influence.  There are some problems with the approach (of people trying to claim the paper contains huge implications, rather than the authors themselves, it should be noted); using a global cooling event driven by a radiative forcing (and only one) to attempt to predict the effects of CO2 on climate in anthropogenic-forced warming can be questioned.  Also, given we've already experienced a pre-Industrial warming of about 0.8 degrees with a 20% increase in CO2 concentration, one wonders how well their model fits with warming experienced already (the authors note uncertainties with regards to aerosol forcing and ocean uptake).  Essentially, the scope of the implications are a lot smaller than some would want it to be.

In the end of the day, it's just one paper.  Climate science, like every discipline, is a cumulative effort; this paper is just another in a line of them attempting to isolate or determine the influence of CO2 on our climate.  The conclusions of this paper, or further papers built upon the research in it, will be integrated into the next IPCC.  Predictions of warming in the future aren't based on one or two cherry-picked models, but a swath of them. 

EDIT: Like I said, the paper says a lot less than some would want.  Apparently it's being tossed around the internet as "proof" CO2 doesn't affect temperature as much as previously thought.  Those people probably didn't read it.
The real climate people say the authors of this study are most likely wrong about climate sensitivity, that they're underestimating it. Do you agree?

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Re: The Official Global Warming Thread
« Reply #212 on: December 09, 2011, 11:07:49 AM »
I saw this piece on Democracy Now today from the Durbin Climate Change Summit about a top dog Climate Change denier praising the President for continuing Bush's policies regarding climate change. I'm not educated at all on the topic; I'd be interested to hear what you guys, esp. SD think.

Video: http://www.democracynow.org/2011/12/8/his_nickname_is_george_w_obama (it says it's 54 minutes long but it brings you right to the spot when you press play)


Short transcript: AMY GOODMAN: Interestingly, on Wednesday, a group of climate change deniers held a news conference here at the U.N. climate change summit in Durban. Speakers included Marc Morano, publisher of the "Climate Depot," a website run by the organization Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, or CFACT. I spoke to Marc Morano just before this broadcast and asked him about President Obama.

MARC MORANO: His nickname is "George W. Obama." Obamas negotiator, Todd Stern, will be here today. They have kept the exact same principles and negotiating stance as President George Bush did for eight years. Obama has carried on Bushs legacy. So, as skeptics, we tip our hat to President Obama in helping crush and continue to defeat the United Nations process. Obama has been a great friend of global warming skeptics at these conferences. Obama has problems, you know, for us, because hes going through the EPA regulatory process, which is a grave threat. But in terms of this, President Obama could not have turned out better when it came to his lack of interest in the congressional climate bill and his lack of interest in the United Nations Kyoto Protocol. So, a job well done for President Obama.

Offline Super Dude

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Re: The Official Global Warming Thread
« Reply #213 on: December 09, 2011, 12:10:59 PM »
I can't look at the video because I'm in a noisy cafeteria right now, but unfortunately Marc Morano is absolutely right. I've never said President Obama was good for the environment or the climate change cause, just that he was the least bad of anyone running. BTW I might post a recent article from Nature later, one that gets to what GP was saying about WW's article: that in all likelihood, climate change is probably not so grossly overestimated as WW's articles suggest nor as underestimated as one I might typically post would suggest, but probably somewhere in the middle. The point they make, and one I can wholeheartedly agree with, is that it doesn't matter if climate change is no big deal or the apocalypse as we know it, because the policy changes prescribed for it ought to be enacted anyway, whether as a bet against global warming or for the many other benefits part and parcel to them.
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Offline GuineaPig

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Re: The Official Global Warming Thread
« Reply #214 on: December 12, 2011, 03:33:10 PM »
Canada to formally withdraw from Kyoto.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-16151310


Fucking embarrassing.
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Offline Super Dude

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Re: The Official Global Warming Thread
« Reply #215 on: December 12, 2011, 04:55:10 PM »
What's the Durban document?
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Re: The Official Global Warming Thread
« Reply #216 on: December 13, 2011, 08:35:25 AM »
I can't look at the video because I'm in a noisy cafeteria right now, but unfortunately Marc Morano is absolutely right. I've never said President Obama was good for the environment or the climate change cause, just that he was the least bad of anyone running. BTW I might post a recent article from Nature later, one that gets to what GP was saying about WW's article: that in all likelihood, climate change is probably not so grossly overestimated as WW's articles suggest nor as underestimated as one I might typically post would suggest, but probably somewhere in the middle. The point they make, and one I can wholeheartedly agree with, is that it doesn't matter if climate change is no big deal or the apocalypse as we know it, because the policy changes prescribed for it ought to be enacted anyway, whether as a bet against global warming or for the many other benefits part and parcel to them.

Oh I wasn't suggesting that you did say that, I just figured you'd be interested/know about it. That's pretty disappointing though, yeah.

Offline Super Dude

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Re: The Official Global Warming Thread
« Reply #217 on: December 13, 2011, 08:51:01 AM »
Yeah, I mean as far as environmental policy goes, he's as bad as any of his predecessors, in the sense that he keeps such policy in America at a safe standstill. I prefer that over Paul or Perry, who'd set us back a hundred years if they had their way, but not by a whole lot.

I mean hell, even Nixon was better for the environment.
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Offline William Wallace

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Re: The Official Global Warming Thread
« Reply #218 on: December 17, 2011, 01:12:43 AM »
How much of the economics of climate change do you guys study? It seems that that profession has somewhat of a consensus position on Kyoto, too - and not a favorable one.

Offline Scheavo

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Re: The Official Global Warming Thread
« Reply #219 on: December 17, 2011, 01:22:28 AM »
How much of the economics of climate change do you guys study? It seems that that profession has somewhat of a consensus position on Kyoto, too - and not a favorable one.

As a general rule, we value consumption in economics as "better." Of course, according to such studies, they're going to find a problem with more sustainable and green technology, becuase they discount those on a fundamental level as economically "bad."

I don't find it surprising that economics finds the solution to global warming as unfavorable, everything looks like a nail when you're holding a hammer.

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Re: The Official Global Warming Thread
« Reply #220 on: December 17, 2011, 06:49:37 AM »
Luckily, my final semester as an undergrad will include an early morning class called Environmental Econ, so hopefully I'll be able to propose to y'all a workable economic solution by next spring. :P
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Offline GuineaPig

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Re: The Official Global Warming Thread
« Reply #221 on: December 17, 2011, 08:01:51 AM »
How much of the economics of climate change do you guys study? It seems that that profession has somewhat of a consensus position on Kyoto, too - and not a favorable one.

Only if one is looking at maintaining the status quo; and that is unfortunately what most economists (partially because they're supported by the oil industry and the Koch bros.) are thinking of.

Yes, massive economic upheaval is going to be needed to combat global warming.  But it's going to happen regardless; the question is whether o not we'll be able to control it.  To avoid dangerous climate change, huge cuts to emissions are required - on the order of about 90% by 2030.  One can't do that by envisioning a future where most people drive cars and use electricity derived from coal.
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Re: The Official Global Warming Thread
« Reply #222 on: December 17, 2011, 08:29:51 AM »
Dammit, it just so happens I also have lost a great article about specifically how a green economy would help turn us around and get us into real recovery mode.
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Re: The Official Global Warming Thread
« Reply #223 on: December 17, 2011, 08:47:58 AM »
Well, there's obvious avenues for government investment and expansion within the green energy sector.  There's a need for de-regulation of nuclear power.  Over the long run, green sources provide a much cheaper cost/kWh, so there's savings to be had there.  People are really over-rating how difficult it is to get away from non-renewable sources.  Ontario has gotten off of coal (which in 2004 provided 25% of energy to the province) in less than a decade.

There's the potential for plenty of new infrastructure spending with regards to transit.  More or less all building of roads should be suspended; they won't ease congestion, and capacity is much more cheaply provided (and environmentally sustainable) by building high-speed rail, light rail, trams, commuter rail, S-Bahn-esque systems, etc...  Furthermore, rolling stock like that isn't built in the third world, so all jobs could be contained within the country of origin.  Plus, transit, much more so than roads, offers superior and more sustainable economic development, which in turn decreases reliance on automobiles.  With enough investment, major North American cities could be able to ban personal cars from much of the interiors of cities in a decade or so.
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Offline Super Dude

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Re: The Official Global Warming Thread
« Reply #224 on: December 17, 2011, 09:14:14 AM »
Well, there's obvious avenues for government investment and expansion within the green energy sector.  There's a need for de-regulation of nuclear power.  Over the long run, green sources provide a much cheaper cost/kWh, so there's savings to be had there.  People are really over-rating how difficult it is to get away from non-renewable sources.  Ontario has gotten off of coal (which in 2004 provided 25% of energy to the province) in less than a decade.

There's the potential for plenty of new infrastructure spending with regards to transit.  More or less all building of roads should be suspended; they won't ease congestion, and capacity is much more cheaply provided (and environmentally sustainable) by building high-speed rail, light rail, trams, commuter rail, S-Bahn-esque systems, etc...  Furthermore, rolling stock like that isn't built in the third world, so all jobs could be contained within the country of origin.  Plus, transit, much more so than roads, offers superior and more sustainable economic development, which in turn decreases reliance on automobiles.  With enough investment, major North American cities could be able to ban personal cars from much of the interiors of cities in a decade or so.

Which is great, but weren't you just saying earlier in the thread that Canada is failtastic when it comes to climate change?
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Offline GuineaPig

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Re: The Official Global Warming Thread
« Reply #225 on: December 17, 2011, 09:31:43 AM »
Yep, largely because of the denialist federal government and the further development of the oil sands in Alberta.  Emissions in Ontario have actually gone down; I'm not positive, but I think it may be the only region in North America to have achieved that.
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Offline William Wallace

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Re: The Official Global Warming Thread
« Reply #226 on: December 17, 2011, 09:39:22 AM »
How much of the economics of climate change do you guys study? It seems that that profession has somewhat of a consensus position on Kyoto, too - and not a favorable one.

To avoid dangerous climate change, huge cuts to emissions are required - on the order of about 90% by 2030.  One can't do that by envisioning a future where most people drive cars and use electricity derived from coal.
One can't do that at all. Kyoto wasn't that prohibitive, and every country with any amount of international influence has given the UN the finger.

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Re: The Official Global Warming Thread
« Reply #227 on: December 17, 2011, 10:00:57 AM »
Sure you can. If we stopped all gas-run or coal-run power today except airplanes, we'd already be there.

Edit: And actually, America is well on their way there. Colorado, California and Massachusetts are among the vanguard here in the U.S., and I anticipate by the end of the decade a slew of other states will follow suit.
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Offline GuineaPig

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Re: The Official Global Warming Thread
« Reply #228 on: December 17, 2011, 10:30:43 AM »
How much of the economics of climate change do you guys study? It seems that that profession has somewhat of a consensus position on Kyoto, too - and not a favorable one.

To avoid dangerous climate change, huge cuts to emissions are required - on the order of about 90% by 2030.  One can't do that by envisioning a future where most people drive cars and use electricity derived from coal.
One can't do that at all. Kyoto wasn't that prohibitive, and every country with any amount of international influence has given the UN the finger.

Lack of will ≠ lack of possibility. 
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Offline William Wallace

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Re: The Official Global Warming Thread
« Reply #229 on: December 17, 2011, 11:01:22 AM »
How much of the economics of climate change do you guys study? It seems that that profession has somewhat of a consensus position on Kyoto, too - and not a favorable one.

To avoid dangerous climate change, huge cuts to emissions are required - on the order of about 90% by 2030.  One can't do that by envisioning a future where most people drive cars and use electricity derived from coal.
One can't do that at all. Kyoto wasn't that prohibitive, and every country with any amount of international influence has given the UN the finger.

Lack of will ≠ lack of possibility.
Whatever you call it, it's not a possibility. You're talking about replacing our entire energy infrastructure through massive public investment. We're many trillions of dollars in debt, and our future obligations in the form of entitlements like medicare and social security are even bigger. If we successfully enact a Kyoto-style policy, we'll default before we see any meaningful reduction in carbon emissions.

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Re: The Official Global Warming Thread
« Reply #230 on: December 17, 2011, 11:15:21 AM »
It'd be a lot easier if we just plain dropped oil subsidies. ::)
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Offline William Wallace

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Re: The Official Global Warming Thread
« Reply #231 on: December 17, 2011, 12:02:02 PM »
It'd be a lot easier if we just plain dropped oil subsidies. ::)
Those numbers are but a fraction of what I'm talking about. Those subsidies, which are more accurately described as tax breaks, amount to several billion dollars. Still, I'd be happy to see those and all other government favors disappear. They favor some over others simply because the former have the appropriate political connections.

By the way, you see the problem with breaks for big oil, but if the money is extracted from the private sector and funneled to the "right" activities, all the economic distortions magically disappear. Neat. 

Offline GuineaPig

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Re: The Official Global Warming Thread
« Reply #232 on: December 17, 2011, 12:47:17 PM »
How much of the economics of climate change do you guys study? It seems that that profession has somewhat of a consensus position on Kyoto, too - and not a favorable one.

To avoid dangerous climate change, huge cuts to emissions are required - on the order of about 90% by 2030.  One can't do that by envisioning a future where most people drive cars and use electricity derived from coal.
One can't do that at all. Kyoto wasn't that prohibitive, and every country with any amount of international influence has given the UN the finger.

Lack of will ≠ lack of possibility.
Whatever you call it, it's not a possibility. You're talking about replacing our entire energy infrastructure through massive public investment. We're many trillions of dollars in debt, and our future obligations in the form of entitlements like medicare and social security are even bigger. If we successfully enact a Kyoto-style policy, we'll default before we see any meaningful reduction in carbon emissions.

That's a load of horseshit.

According to wikipedia, the United States produces 2.89 trillion kWh yearly from non-renewable sources.

Using the figures presented here, to replace that 2.89 trillion kWh with wind power would entail $232 billion of production and construction costs.  Nuclear would cost $116 billion.

Furthermore, the continued operation of those renewable sources (assuming all of the non-renewable sources are powered by coal, which lessens their costs) would reduce $78 billion of energy production costs, yearly.  Accounting for the other sources that are non-renewable (gas, petroleum, etc.) it's probably more like $85-90 billion.

Now, this is a pretty simple presentation of the issue, and I'm probably missing or ignoring some other part of the picture, but basic analysis means that the cost of replacing all non-renewable energy sources in the US would be about $30-120 billion per year in the first year, and then declining over the course of about twenty-five years (accounting for the need to replace old coal-fired generators).  Total cost would be ~$350 - 1500 billion over that time-span.  The parameters for the estimate are probably a bit low, but within an order of magnitude.

To put that into perspective, the cost of the American military over that time-span (assuming no changes in budget, and no inflation, obviously) would be ~$16.5 trillion.

Saying the States can't pay for it is absolute bullshit.
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Offline William Wallace

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Re: The Official Global Warming Thread
« Reply #233 on: December 17, 2011, 01:54:31 PM »
How much of the economics of climate change do you guys study? It seems that that profession has somewhat of a consensus position on Kyoto, too - and not a favorable one.

To avoid dangerous climate change, huge cuts to emissions are required - on the order of about 90% by 2030.  One can't do that by envisioning a future where most people drive cars and use electricity derived from coal.
One can't do that at all. Kyoto wasn't that prohibitive, and every country with any amount of international influence has given the UN the finger.

Lack of will ≠ lack of possibility.
Whatever you call it, it's not a possibility. You're talking about replacing our entire energy infrastructure through massive public investment. We're many trillions of dollars in debt, and our future obligations in the form of entitlements like medicare and social security are even bigger. If we successfully enact a Kyoto-style policy, we'll default before we see any meaningful reduction in carbon emissions.

That's a load of horseshit.

According to wikipedia, the United States produces 2.89 trillion kWh yearly from non-renewable sources.

Using the figures presented here, to replace that 2.89 trillion kWh with wind power would entail $232 billion of production and construction costs.  Nuclear would cost $116 billion.

Furthermore, the continued operation of those renewable sources (assuming all of the non-renewable sources are powered by coal, which lessens their costs) would reduce $78 billion of energy production costs, yearly.  Accounting for the other sources that are non-renewable (gas, petroleum, etc.) it's probably more like $85-90 billion.

Now, this is a pretty simple presentation of the issue, and I'm probably missing or ignoring some other part of the picture, but basic analysis means that the cost of replacing all non-renewable energy sources in the US would be about $30-120 billion per year in the first year, and then declining over the course of about twenty-five years (accounting for the need to replace old coal-fired generators).  Total cost would be ~$350 - 1500 billion over that time-span.  The parameters for the estimate are probably a bit low, but within an order of magnitude.

To put that into perspective, the cost of the American military over that time-span (assuming no changes in budget, and no inflation, obviously) would be ~$16.5 trillion.

Saying the States can't pay for it is absolute bullshit.
You're missing a whole lot. For one thing, projections of the cost of alternative energies are hardly reliable. A quick search revealed that some environmentalists say $500 billion over the next 10 years is suitable, while Obama says it can be done for around $150 billion. Your figures are far higher than than those two estimates. The point being, nobody has the foggiest idea how much this is really going to cost.

Furthermore, these industries are dependent on subsidies for survival. The idea that we'll build a green economy on technologies that can't survive in the market place is a wish at best. It's true that the oil and gas industry is the recipient of about $21 billion in various tax breaks. While those should be eliminated, they're nothing compared to what you want to spend in the next two decades on alternative energy. Oil would remain profitable without those favors anyway.

We also have to consider the impact of lost economic productivity that comes from subsidizing any energy source and, in particular, punishing greenhouse gas emitters with a cap and trade program - between half a trillion and 1.3 trillion, according to the Department of Energy.

And this on top of our already outrageous commitments to our empire and entitlements, both of which should be eliminated. It's also fallacious to say that those bad investments justify further subsidizing the energy market.

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Re: The Official Global Warming Thread
« Reply #234 on: December 17, 2011, 02:52:39 PM »
We also have to consider the impact of lost economic productivity that comes from subsidizing any energy source and, in particular, punishing greenhouse gas emitters with a cap and trade program - between half a trillion and 1.3 trillion, according to the Department of Energy.

See that just doesn't make sense to me. Over time, reducing emissions saves costs, because as GP has said, renewable energy is more cost-efficient.

And to the last bit about bad investments, I don't know if you mean Solyndra, but turns out they failed because the solar market was expanding more rapidly than they could keep up with.

Also I think you'll find this interesting (read the whole thing, especially the part near the end about the Advanced Research Project Agency-Energy):

http://ilar.ucsd.edu/assets/001/502035.pdf

The Crisis in Clean Energy, from this summer in Foreign Affairs
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Re: The Official Global Warming Thread
« Reply #235 on: December 17, 2011, 02:58:19 PM »
Furthermore, these industries are dependent on subsidies for survival. The idea that we'll build a green economy on technologies that can't survive in the market place is a wish at best.

This is a fair point to bring up, but it really fades away when you look at the actual issue. The extent to which green energy is not viable in the market place is due to the upfront cost, which a lot of people simply cannot afford. That doesn't mean it's an inferior product, that the product will not return the investment it promises, etc.

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Re: The Official Global Warming Thread
« Reply #236 on: December 17, 2011, 05:06:11 PM »
Furthermore, these industries are dependent on subsidies for survival. The idea that we'll build a green economy on technologies that can't survive in the market place is a wish at best.

This is a fair point to bring up, but it really fades away when you look at the actual issue. The extent to which green energy is not viable in the market place is due to the upfront cost, which a lot of people simply cannot afford. That doesn't mean it's an inferior product, that the product will not return the investment it promises, etc.
That's the problem with the logic of economic growth by subsidy. Sure, this thing couldn't survive on its own, but if we cover the cost of all the inputs, boom, it's profitable. You guys understand this when it comes to subsidizing products and services that don't agree with your other political concerns, say agricultural subsidies. But the rules change when we're talking alternative energy.

We also have to consider the impact of lost economic productivity that comes from subsidizing any energy source and, in particular, punishing greenhouse gas emitters with a cap and trade program - between half a trillion and 1.3 trillion, according to the Department of Energy.

See that just doesn't make sense to me. Over time, reducing emissions saves costs, because as GP has said, renewable energy is more cost-efficient.
Maybe so. But if our economy collapses on the way there, it doesn't matter. It's not that subsidizing energy is more harmful than any other expenditure, but it's another massive investment we can't afford.

Quote
And to the last bit about bad investments, I don't know if you mean Solyndra, but turns out they failed because the solar market was expanding more rapidly than they could keep up with.
I wasn't specifically referring to Solyndra. But they failed because their solar panel design flopped. And they avoided liquidation because they were made the poster child for the stimulus. 


 

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Re: The Official Global Warming Thread
« Reply #237 on: December 17, 2011, 09:53:38 PM »
Actually they didn't fail because of their solar panel design. Note my comment just after.

I would also like to point out that if we don't make the change, there won't really be economy to crash in the first place.

The rules are also different for alternative energy because all those really need are economies of scale. Read the article I posted in my previous entry to the thread.
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Re: The Official Global Warming Thread
« Reply #238 on: December 18, 2011, 08:20:19 AM »
How much of the economics of climate change do you guys study? It seems that that profession has somewhat of a consensus position on Kyoto, too - and not a favorable one.

To avoid dangerous climate change, huge cuts to emissions are required - on the order of about 90% by 2030.  One can't do that by envisioning a future where most people drive cars and use electricity derived from coal.
One can't do that at all. Kyoto wasn't that prohibitive, and every country with any amount of international influence has given the UN the finger.

Lack of will ≠ lack of possibility.
Whatever you call it, it's not a possibility. You're talking about replacing our entire energy infrastructure through massive public investment. We're many trillions of dollars in debt, and our future obligations in the form of entitlements like medicare and social security are even bigger. If we successfully enact a Kyoto-style policy, we'll default before we see any meaningful reduction in carbon emissions.

That's a load of horseshit.

According to wikipedia, the United States produces 2.89 trillion kWh yearly from non-renewable sources.

Using the figures presented here, to replace that 2.89 trillion kWh with wind power would entail $232 billion of production and construction costs.  Nuclear would cost $116 billion.

Furthermore, the continued operation of those renewable sources (assuming all of the non-renewable sources are powered by coal, which lessens their costs) would reduce $78 billion of energy production costs, yearly.  Accounting for the other sources that are non-renewable (gas, petroleum, etc.) it's probably more like $85-90 billion.

Now, this is a pretty simple presentation of the issue, and I'm probably missing or ignoring some other part of the picture, but basic analysis means that the cost of replacing all non-renewable energy sources in the US would be about $30-120 billion per year in the first year, and then declining over the course of about twenty-five years (accounting for the need to replace old coal-fired generators).  Total cost would be ~$350 - 1500 billion over that time-span.  The parameters for the estimate are probably a bit low, but within an order of magnitude.

To put that into perspective, the cost of the American military over that time-span (assuming no changes in budget, and no inflation, obviously) would be ~$16.5 trillion.

Saying the States can't pay for it is absolute bullshit.
You're missing a whole lot. For one thing, projections of the cost of alternative energies are hardly reliable. A quick search revealed that some environmentalists say $500 billion over the next 10 years is suitable, while Obama says it can be done for around $150 billion. Your figures are far higher than than those two estimates. The point being, nobody has the foggiest idea how much this is really going to cost.

Furthermore, these industries are dependent on subsidies for survival. The idea that we'll build a green economy on technologies that can't survive in the market place is a wish at best. It's true that the oil and gas industry is the recipient of about $21 billion in various tax breaks. While those should be eliminated, they're nothing compared to what you want to spend in the next two decades on alternative energy. Oil would remain profitable without those favors anyway.

We also have to consider the impact of lost economic productivity that comes from subsidizing any energy source and, in particular, punishing greenhouse gas emitters with a cap and trade program - between half a trillion and 1.3 trillion, according to the Department of Energy.

And this on top of our already outrageous commitments to our empire and entitlements, both of which should be eliminated. It's also fallacious to say that those bad investments justify further subsidizing the energy market.

My figures account for costs of construction and then production, while accounting for the de-activation and lack of replacement for coal-fired plants.  Their is a lack of precision (spending on any hypothetical infrastructure is always uncertain), but it's surely within an order of magnitude.  It's not like it could cost $200,000, or $50 trillion.

The industries aren't reliant on subsidies.  The cost of production for wind and solar are only slightly higher than coal (I'm talking about the US, where coal and energy in general is cheap), and the costs of nuclear and hydro are cheaper.  If the costs of energy production were actually higher than the value of electricity produced, you wouldn't have individual investors, let alone much larger private developments.  I don't know where you're getting this "can't survive in the marketplace" argument from.

I never argued that previous bad investments justify anything.  You claimed the US couldn't afford it, and would default in the process.  That's clearly not the case.

Furthermore, I think it's a little shortsighted to calculate the costs/benefits solely in the amount of money invested/money saved.  There would be massive health benefits to eliminating coal-fired electricity generation, and massive environmental benefits even if one were to exclude the GHG emissions entirely.  Coal mining is dangerous, presents massive costs to the community, and is notorious for the kind of environmental disasters it leaves behind. 

The costs future global warming will have on the US economy are massive.  It's short-sightedness of the utmost degree to claim that an investment in renewable energy is not affordable, or not necessary.
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Offline Super Dude

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Re: The Official Global Warming Thread
« Reply #239 on: December 18, 2011, 08:39:14 AM »
The costs future global warming will have on the global economy are massive. It'll make 2008 look like the dot-com bubble burst. I'm serious.
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Offline Scheavo

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Re: The Official Global Warming Thread
« Reply #240 on: December 18, 2011, 02:04:07 PM »
Furthermore, these industries are dependent on subsidies for survival. The idea that we'll build a green economy on technologies that can't survive in the market place is a wish at best.

This is a fair point to bring up, but it really fades away when you look at the actual issue. The extent to which green energy is not viable in the market place is due to the upfront cost, which a lot of people simply cannot afford. That doesn't mean it's an inferior product, that the product will not return the investment it promises, etc.
That's the problem with the logic of economic growth by subsidy. Sure, this thing couldn't survive on its own, but if we cover the cost of all the inputs, boom, it's profitable. You guys understand this when it comes to subsidizing products and services that don't agree with your other political concerns, say agricultural subsidies. But the rules change when we're talking alternative energy.

You try to make this an issue is political hypocrisy, but it seems to me your the one being less truthful to your ideology by not calling for the end of oil subsidies, which you begrudgingly except as a "tax cut." If you look at what I think should be "subsidized," there are arguments and reasons for why the market does not properly function, where it goes wrong, why it goes wrong, and what can be done to fix the solution.

Profits can hinder just as much as they can help, and depends upon the product. Sometimes, needing to make a profit means you have a crappier product, other times it forces you to create something better (and I'm saying this as someone who produces, and faces this dilemma personally). It is not some magical automatic boost to a product quality, and it ignores the vast number of ways in which you are implicitly relying upon consumption to assume something is profitable. Profits rely upon other factors that are completely unrelated to the quality of the product created.

« Last Edit: December 18, 2011, 05:31:36 PM by Scheavo »

Offline William Wallace

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Re: The Official Global Warming Thread
« Reply #241 on: December 18, 2011, 03:20:56 PM »
How much of the economics of climate change do you guys study? It seems that that profession has somewhat of a consensus position on Kyoto, too - and not a favorable one.

To avoid dangerous climate change, huge cuts to emissions are required - on the order of about 90% by 2030.  One can't do that by envisioning a future where most people drive cars and use electricity derived from coal.
One can't do that at all. Kyoto wasn't that prohibitive, and every country with any amount of international influence has given the UN the finger.

Lack of will ≠ lack of possibility.
Whatever you call it, it's not a possibility. You're talking about replacing our entire energy infrastructure through massive public investment. We're many trillions of dollars in debt, and our future obligations in the form of entitlements like medicare and social security are even bigger. If we successfully enact a Kyoto-style policy, we'll default before we see any meaningful reduction in carbon emissions.

That's a load of horseshit.

According to wikipedia, the United States produces 2.89 trillion kWh yearly from non-renewable sources.

Using the figures presented here, to replace that 2.89 trillion kWh with wind power would entail $232 billion of production and construction costs.  Nuclear would cost $116 billion.

Furthermore, the continued operation of those renewable sources (assuming all of the non-renewable sources are powered by coal, which lessens their costs) would reduce $78 billion of energy production costs, yearly.  Accounting for the other sources that are non-renewable (gas, petroleum, etc.) it's probably more like $85-90 billion.

Now, this is a pretty simple presentation of the issue, and I'm probably missing or ignoring some other part of the picture, but basic analysis means that the cost of replacing all non-renewable energy sources in the US would be about $30-120 billion per year in the first year, and then declining over the course of about twenty-five years (accounting for the need to replace old coal-fired generators).  Total cost would be ~$350 - 1500 billion over that time-span.  The parameters for the estimate are probably a bit low, but within an order of magnitude.

To put that into perspective, the cost of the American military over that time-span (assuming no changes in budget, and no inflation, obviously) would be ~$16.5 trillion.

Saying the States can't pay for it is absolute bullshit.
You're missing a whole lot. For one thing, projections of the cost of alternative energies are hardly reliable. A quick search revealed that some environmentalists say $500 billion over the next 10 years is suitable, while Obama says it can be done for around $150 billion. Your figures are far higher than than those two estimates. The point being, nobody has the foggiest idea how much this is really going to cost.

Furthermore, these industries are dependent on subsidies for survival. The idea that we'll build a green economy on technologies that can't survive in the market place is a wish at best. It's true that the oil and gas industry is the recipient of about $21 billion in various tax breaks. While those should be eliminated, they're nothing compared to what you want to spend in the next two decades on alternative energy. Oil would remain profitable without those favors anyway.

We also have to consider the impact of lost economic productivity that comes from subsidizing any energy source and, in particular, punishing greenhouse gas emitters with a cap and trade program - between half a trillion and 1.3 trillion, according to the Department of Energy.

And this on top of our already outrageous commitments to our empire and entitlements, both of which should be eliminated. It's also fallacious to say that those bad investments justify further subsidizing the energy market.

My figures account for costs of construction and then production, while accounting for the de-activation and lack of replacement for coal-fired plants.  Their is a lack of precision (spending on any hypothetical infrastructure is always uncertain), but it's surely within an order of magnitude.  It's not like it could cost $200,000, or $50 trillion.
That's really not the point. There's still significant uncertainty in the estimates and we can't possibly account for the economic activity that is prevented when we dump even more money into centrally planned energy.

Quote
The industries aren't reliant on subsidies.  The cost of production for wind and solar are only slightly higher than coal (I'm talking about the US, where coal and energy in general is cheap), and the costs of nuclear and hydro are cheaper.  If the costs of energy production were actually higher than the value of electricity produced, you wouldn't have individual investors, let alone much larger private developments.  I don't know where you're getting this "can't survive in the marketplace" argument from.
I'm getting it from economists. And the reason you have investors is because the federal government is standing behind these ventures into green energy. When the people with the printing press are on your side it tends to create some confidence. More to the point, though, the people making the case for green energy are trying to convince people why we need to subsidize these projects; even they know the alternatives can't survive without public support. That's why they, as you guys have, try to draw attention to the tax breaks for oil companies. "Why not fund green energy? Big Oil gets public money!"

Quote
I never argued that previous bad investments justify anything.  You claimed the US couldn't afford it, and would default in the process.  That's clearly not the case.
It's broader than just energy. We are hurling towards default and need to be cutting spending, not expanding our commitments. That's why I don't want to finance energy projects - just like I don't want to pay for wars, support farmers, hunt down drug cartels or provide medical care to everybody.


Quote
Furthermore, I think it's a little shortsighted to calculate the costs/benefits solely in the amount of money invested/money saved.  There would be massive health benefits to eliminating coal-fired electricity generation, and massive environmental benefits even if one were to exclude the GHG emissions entirely.  Coal mining is dangerous, presents massive costs to the community, and is notorious for the kind of environmental disasters it leaves behind.
My overall point has been that we will forgo a lot of economic growth, on top of the direct costs of these subsidies, if we do what you want. And the question isn't invest in green technology or suffer disastrous consequences. As society get wealthier it also gets healthier. The results come because people can afford them and demand them. I like clean air, water and not dying from climate change. I just think your means to those ends are retarded.

Quote
The costs future global warming will have on the US economy are massive.  It's short-sightedness of the utmost degree to claim that an investment in renewable energy is not affordable, or not necessary.
Well, that's what's in question now, isn't it?

« Last Edit: December 18, 2011, 03:27:23 PM by William Wallace »

Offline Super Dude

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Re: The Official Global Warming Thread
« Reply #242 on: December 18, 2011, 03:49:00 PM »
I think you fail to realize the reason green tech has such trouble breaking through is because of subsidies to Big Oil. It makes for an uneven playing field. Otherwise, green tech would be able to stand on its own, without public support. Otherwise there wouldn't be a problem, and this argument would not need to take place.
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Offline GuineaPig

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Re: The Official Global Warming Thread
« Reply #243 on: December 18, 2011, 04:04:44 PM »
Also, there's this thing called lobbying.  It's why politicians still allow an outdated, disastrously damaging industry to drive American electricity generation.
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Offline Super Dude

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Re: The Official Global Warming Thread
« Reply #244 on: December 18, 2011, 04:06:26 PM »
I used to have a link to a brilliant website that tracked the multiple millions of dollars Senator Scott Brown got from various oil companies to block green policy. Wish I knew where it went.

Edit: By the way, to put the economics into perspective, Iceland is one of the greenest countries in the world, and as of 2010 also just happened to be in the best shape economically following the financial meltdown. Which is not to suggest causation, but there is certainly something to be said for correlation.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2011, 05:41:36 PM by Super Dude »
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