Four Answers Illustrate today's Four Positions On Energy and Climate
And here in Portland, OR, the local paper shrieks about the "hottest October on record," a classic debating tactic that means, essentially, nothing. Or, perhaps, that buying a Tesla will comfort our paranoia.
Your decarbonization plot is intriguing. I’d like to see the global spend on decarbonization over the same time period. The trillions (?) spent so for seem to have had zero effect. If the straight line is extrapolated carbon emissions reach zero around 2070. A more realistic curve would be a decaying exponential. An exponential fit to the data given results in a time constant of about 63 years or a half life of 41.6 years. My guess is that the exponential is too optimistic, especially beyond 2050.
Well, that net zero quadrant really needed a year - as in the proposition of the debate with Steve Koonin. Presuming you mean 2050-ish, I straddled the line between ecomodernists and energy realists. Really more a realist than that but hedging.
For instance, there was a question about sequestration as a solution. I.e., ecological solutions from regenerating earth systems, in addition to carbon capture and storage (which is what Roger addressed). Perhaps Dad Pielke can step in and write a post about biological sequestration capacities?
Both debaters, Roger and Steve, did a fine job--an interesting conversation. I do think they and the moderator could've more fully addressed the audience questions. Good stuff, thanks.
The debate was good faith and long, long overdue. By pointing out the flawed premise of the entire social hysteria regarding carbon, Koonin won
Really enjoyed the debate. It was so nice to hear something intellectually engaging about climate change for a general audience. It really highlighted how much this issue has been subsumed into emotions in the media.
Do you think it's likely that rich Asian countries will take the lead in investing in nuclear in the developing world? This seems like the only practical Ecomodernist way forward.
Here is the debate
This link starts with my opening remarks, 10 min, followed by Koonin's opening remarks
It was a lot of fun and hopefully educational for the students and community members
Your definition of ecomoderist is incomplete, because it doesn't say what we do in the meantime. If you mean "try" to reach net zero by continuing to do stupid stuff, then I am not in that camp. I'm with Lomborg (and Koonin too) as a Climate Realist that also believes we should use our current resources wisely to both help the world and improve technology.
Realistic scientist. Net Zero is a Red Herring. At its base is the unproven assumption that more CO2 in the air will increase energy absorption, thus causing a global temperature rise. NO one has ever published proof of this unproven assumption.
Interesting debate, entirely fact based and without quasi-religious argumentation. More of that please. Let us for a moment forget that our best datasets for temperature contains to trace of human influence, so the whole pie-in-the-sky net zero policy has no scientific basis today. Our emissions simply does not have a discernible effect on climate.
The bottom line is then, simplified somewhat, when it comes to achieving net zero, that:
We can either ditch the net zero policy as unachievable, or
We can ditch everything else we value in the west, efficient energy use, cars, planes, meat, fertilizers and so on, in order to fix a climate we cannot fix.
The Rest (some 70 % of humanity) is ignoring net zero goals, since their priority is getting up to our level of prosperity. If the West continues this folly, by 2100 the Rest will be prosperous while the West will be poor.
The challenge is that the carbon obsession is the problem and ignoring that is ignoring the elephant in the room.
The dialogue between achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2100 presents a feasible target if we channel our efforts accordingly, or perhaps, a solution may emerge organically with time. Yet, the crux of the matter isn't rooted in the potential to decarbonize but rather in the impractical deadlines set by various governments and officials, aiming for net-zero by 2035 or 2050. At present, our technological arsenal to approach net-zero is limited, with nuclear energy being the sole contender, which, regrettably, is often dismissed from the conversation.
Imagine if our leaders in politics, industry, and science were to candidly admit the current absence of a technical pathway to net-zero. If they were to commit to enhancing nuclear safety and to delve into the research of alternative technologies such as hydrogen, geothermal, and the long-term storage solutions for wind and solar energy, there might be a glimmer of hope. This approach would be a pivot from pouring resources into solar and wind energy, where we are nearing peak efficiency, to fostering innovation in other promising areas.
The resistance to nuclear energy from those most alarmed by global warming, despite its potential, is perplexing and suggests a reluctance to embrace available solutions. This resistance, coupled with the vested interests of various stakeholders—politicians who make non-committal pledges, the media that thrives on doomsday headlines, the climate change sector that profits from the illusion of solutions, and the scientific community that is incentivized to toe the line—creates a complex web that stifles progress.
From a personal standpoint, working for an environmental NGO, I've observed a disconcerting indifference towards the lack of a concrete plan for net-zero, despite the substantial funding flowing into climate-related initiatives. An anecdote that stands out involves a relative employed at a national lab for alternative energy who was astounded at the suggestion of not having a plan for net-zero. Upon inquiry, his colleagues, much like Dr. Koonin, had no tangible solutions for energy storage.
Moreover, geothermal energy, especially the innovative methods that don't rely on underground water or extreme heat, stands out as a promising technology for base-load energy globally. Yet, these companies are starkly understaffed and underfunded compared to the billions channeled into wind and solar projects.
This brings us to question the underlying motives: Is the primary concern genuinely climate change, or is there a Malthusian agenda at play? The widespread opposition to nuclear energy among climate activists casts doubt on their commitment to finding a real solution.
In conclusion, while I concur that a pathway to net-zero by 2100 is within reach, the likelihood diminishes substantially when the majority of politicians, scientists, advocates, and media refuse to acknowledge the current technological gap. It's a scenario that demands a significant shift in dialogue and action to truly enhance our prospects of achieving net-zero emissions.
Couldn't find anything wrong - great job (doesn't mean it's perfect, just that my error-detector light never came on).
However, I still don't understand on what basis decarbonization is considered "A GOOD THING". If the aim of decarbonization is to reduce carbon dioxide concentration in our atmosphere, I have yet to see any research that shows that CO2 concentrations are the 'smoking gun' of deleterious climate change. There still seems to be this assumed theology of 'CO2 is a greenhouse gas' --> 'CO2 is bad' --> 'We must reduce CO2 or we will all die within the next 30 years'
But that's not even remotely true; every replicable experiment concerning the effects of CO2 concentration have shown that doubling (or tripling) the current CO2 concentration has a net positive effect on plant life - and since we all depend on plant life for our survival, one would think we would consider that increasing CO2 concentration would be a GOOD THING.
It seems to me that the only thing the 'CO2 is BAD' crowd have going for them is that nobody can prove them wrong, because their assertions are non-falsifiable. But that's not science at ALL and I cannot for the life of me figure out why you and others spend so much time worrying about how to reduce an atmospheric component that a) doesn't have a clear causal relationship with observed climate changes over geologic time, and b) is most likely a beneficial - not detrimental component anyway.
Innovation cannot proceed in a state of energy poverty. Innovation requires access to enormous amounts of energy. It doesn't have to be fossil fuel energy but it must be abundant, affordable, constantly available energy. During my travels in Africa and Asia I saw millions of clever people making clever use of what little resources they could cobble together given that they were forced to live in a state of energy poverty. Thus efforts to increase the costs of fossil fuel energy in hopes of reducing carbon emissions, without decreasing the cost of alternatives, are more likely to result in a death spiral of increasing energy poverty spreading across wider and wider stretches of the world.