38 Comments

A big scientific question that need answered in this issue is how much additional climate forcing occurs due to high-altitude emissions. The IPCC used to use a factor of 3x then stopped. The UK gov't has an estimate of 2x. Does anyone have any knowledge on this?

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The last time I looked at the data for commercial airliners they get around 80 passenger miles per gallon. That's like carrying four people in a mid-sized car. They are pretty fuel efficient.

Private jets, on the other hand, get between 5 - 20 passenger miles per gallon. Worse than most SUVs carrying a single person.

Private jets probably have a lower total carbon footprint, but their hypocrisy factor is huge. John Kerry call your office.

Remote work sounds like it would be a good solution, but that is not emissions free either. Data centers are very energy hungry. Still less travel sounds like a good idea for many reasons.

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I've read that the industry average is about 50 passenger mpg.

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Reality bites and beautifully reframes the issue. How to manage it not how remove the issue.

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Climate fanatics fail to recognize that humans are here--in greater numbers--despite the many climate ups-and-downs in recorded history. As for life on the planet--well, it's still here despite that nasty asteroid.

Get real.

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Why worry about rising CO2 emissions? We need to attend to the real issue that appears to be, somehow, forgotten in the relentless curse of 'net zero'. That is, "Is CO2 really a villain gas and is its bourgeoning presence in the atmosphere an existential threat to life on Earth?" Studies of the physics of greenhouse gases have confirmed that the temperature varies with the logarithm of the concentration of atmospheric CO2. The logarithmic dependence arises because CO2 gas absorbs infrared radiation at around 15 micrometers. The phenomenon of logarithmic dependence occurs because atmospheric CO2 gas soon becomes ‘saturated’ so that as more of the gas is added, the infrared radiation can no longer be absorbed as the wavelength is ’full’. This sensitivity to the doubling of CO2 gas in a feedback-free world is about 1 degree C as various empirical observations have shown. so, why concern ourselves with simply CO2 emissions when we know what the science says?

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The climate sensitivity models that I've read about have a longer-term temp increase of between 2.5 and 4 degrees C, with a "fat tail" on the high side, which gives an uncomfortable (10%) chance of greater than 6 degrees C.

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Roger you are channeling Vaclav Smil on this one. Great essay.

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Most in-person conferences are farces and boondoggles. They can easily be replaced by Zoom meetings or phone calls.

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Finally - some common sense! Well done, Roger!

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"And based on history, I’m optimistic that we will."

I’d tend to agree with this statement , and it’s probably correct that we should give ourselves rough targets as to when we’d hope we can solve these and other problems. But what is insane is that these targets are set in stone, with legally enforceable sanctions, when there is no clear technology by which this can be achieved nor sufficient resources to execute a solution in the time period that will be enforced. Too often targets are set by technically ignorant politicians as a form of one-upmanship but, inevitably, science & technologists will get the blame

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The targets are mostly just a scam. Net Zero is just another carbon trading scam like the failed Cap n Trade scam that made $billions in government guaranteed profits for grifters like Al Gore. If they really cared about emissions they would replace all mandates, subsidies and exemptions with the Revenue Neutral Carbon Fee & Dividend. Which rightfully & intrinsically penalizes the energy hog wealth while rewarding the energy frugal poor & middle class. The exact opposite of what Net Zero does. Net zero transfers wealth from the poor & middle class to the wealthy.

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With respect, I disagree. In my experience I think cock-up is more likely than conspiracy. Net zero has been promulgated by politicians who have neither technical expertise nor experience in execution and they don’t seem to be aware of the problems their policies are going to create.

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It ain't about experience, it's about knowledge and I have the knowledge, a lot of knowledge on the subject. They haven't made any secret about what they are up to if you bother to read their own documents.

What you are claiming is a coincidence. A coincidence that all the establishment politicians in the Western World are advocating the same nonsensical policies. Not like you would expect for just random incompetence, one country does it stupid, another country does it smart. And why do your coincidences always end up doing the same thing, impoverish the people, while making the uber-wealthy even more wealthy and more powerful? You would think at least half the time dumb-ass politicians would penalize the energy hog rich instead of just the opposite.

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You need to read Andy May's new book on politics and climate science. I'm just starting, but still very eye-opening.

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I just finished May's book "The Frozen Views of Climate". Ir is an excellent review of AR6 many failings. And RP,Jr figures prominently in ir as well. Highly recommended!

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Thank you for the recommendation. I will pick that up. I'm reading the CLINTEL assessment of AR6 right now.

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Frankly, Net Zero makes no sense. Our current path leads to diminishing T's sometime before 2100. We will continue to reduce CO2 emissions thru increasing efficiency (e.g., chemical process intensification), and tech evolution (e.g., small modular nuclear reactors). Sea levels will continue to rise no matter what; for many cities subduction is a much greater problem (e.g., NOLA, SE FL, Norfolk).

When you add in the very real negative impacts of trying to get there (e.g., poorer quality of life in the developed world, and stamping on the necks of the poor in the developing world), I'm left questioning the ethical foundations of those who want to "achieve" it.

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May 30, 2023·edited May 30, 2023

Some flying really is gratuitous and unnecessary.

Having gotten tired of the security hassle of flying from San Francisco (where I live) to Vancouver, British Columbia (where I was born), I now drive. It takes two days (flying takes one), but it is a beautiful drive. It also has a lower carbon footprint.

Similarly, when I can avoid it, I drive to SoCal when I need to go there. This also has a lower carbon footprint and is enjoyable.

More recently, I've started to look into ways to use rail passenger travel in the Western United States and Canada.

We still fly to Europe about once every two years. (My husband's extended family live in Greece.) No guilt about that. I don't try to justify it. In fact, we love to fly long haul. Lufthansa, Norwegian, Aegean and British Airways are our favorite airlines.

We hope to visit Japan in the not too distant future.

As to professional conferences, one of the reasons I moved to Silicon Valley is because, for my field, many of the conferences are here in California.

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i did a quick google search for the difference between car and air travel. i looked at half a dozen sites. Each gave a differenet answer. None of the sites I saw gave much information about how they calculated the carbon emmisions. There wasn't much difference between the two. If you drive with more than one person, the car become more effieicnt. If anyone has a good reference that I can look at please let me know.

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Air is already an elite form of travel especially if you move up from cattle class to business or first class.

This will make it more so and the thought of not having 2 weeks in the sun, twice a year, for the northern Europeans, because air is banned for them, will not be acceptable. Especially when the private jets of Gates et al are seen using the air miles of the general populace instead.

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Bill Gates is a lunatic. We should have stopped listening to him long ago.

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Recent discovery: United economy is excellent if you are flying to Europe.

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Long haul economy is still quite enjoyable on many airlines. Highly recommended: British Airways, Norwegian, and Lufthansa.

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You must be in your 20's!

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Nope!

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Can't agree although I have not flown with Norwegian. It is the journey not the airline I just couldn't abide. Partly accentuated by waiting around after the long haul for another short haul to the final destination.

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Norwegian has a lot of 777s which are quiet. The staff are very professional. But if you don't like flying, I get it.

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I totally agree. I find it even more enjoyable than business where the window seats are far from ...the window. If there is one thing that is incredibly enjoyable in air travel, it’s the outside spectacle! On 777 I book the window seats at the very back of the airplane where the side rows are only 2-seat wide. If you are a couple traveling, you get the spectacle and the confort of being by yourselves.

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Agree that a window seat at the back can be wonderful. I make sure to bring my noise cancelling headphones if I'm behind the wing. One of the things I love to do when flying to Europe is gaze at places like Hudson's Bay, Baffin Island, Iceland and Greenland. Flying east, it's always thrilling to me to finally see the edges of Scotland, Ireland or Norway.

I've often found that the seats at the back are a little cheaper and easier to get last minute.

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Indeed. Yes you get more noise and vibrations from the engines, but the view is wonderful coupled with a great price/quality ratio.

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May 30, 2023·edited May 30, 2023

"And based on history, I’m optimistic that we will."

I am curious on what history that is based. Most civilizations collapsed, for any number of complicated reasons. Historically, sophistication of culture and technology has not a strong track record of preventing collapse. In fact, in terms of longevity, hunter and gatherers have been more successful than, say, the Roman Empire.

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Based on the history of the last century, i.e.:

https://galepooley.substack.com/p/minerals-and-metals-became-2-to-427?s=r#details

https://www.amazon.com/Superabundance-Population-Innovation-Flourishing-Infinitely/dp/195222358X/

Of course hunter and gatherers are more successful, that is the baseline, how we evolved. There is no going back to that, and technological civilization cannot end, without human extinction. It can evolve and may even devolve for periods of time in certain regions as it has in African countries. Undoubtedly the centers of human civilization will shift from one region to another, as they always have. And we are seeing that happen right now with the decay of the West and growth of Asia.

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There is no good substitute for aircraft using jet fuel. For shorter trips, with the new high density batteries coming out, electric aircraft are doable, and much more energy efficient. But LRTs are better for short travel in any case. Especially if Musk can speed up tunnel construction and lower costs.

The REAL rationale for jet fuel substitution is to examine the carbon abatement cost of any of these methods. And then consider the value of that carbon dividend to Nuclear power substituting for Coal. The logic is overwhelming, use your carbon mitigation $ for Nuclear power expansion.

And in the Transportation sector, by far and away, logic dictates focusing on two things:

1) Almost all battery production should be going to replacing diesel trucks, diesel heavy equipment, mining equipment, rail locomotives, ferries, LRTs, buses and short distance shipping. Forget aircraft. Conserve heavy crude for jet fuel. Batteries will be in short supply for 50yrs or more so using them for wind/solar storage or light vehicles is just not wise.

2) Methanol replacing gasoline in vehicles. Methanol can be mass produced in vast quantities and synthesized carbon neutral from Nuclear hydrogen plus carbon from waste, biomass, seawater CO2 or flue gas (i.e. cement plant).

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“Almost all battery production should be going to replacing diesel trucks, diesel heavy equipment, mining equipment, rail locomotives, ferries”... all of these would require absolutely huge batteries, not sure about the downtime required to recharge?

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May 30, 2023·edited May 30, 2023

In some cases, like rail, battery swaps would be easy. Otherwise charging time is 30min to 70% charge. Followed by typically ~6hrs operation. The charging time is easily made up in the faster acceleration and regenerative braking of the all electric drive.

Cost savings of ~$70k per year in energy per 1 MWh pack. And that is going to increase, a lot. An electric semi-truck will typically use 2 full battery pack charges/day. A light duty electric vehicle will only average ~10% of a full battery pack charge/day. A very bad use of precious resources.

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Electric aircraft for commercial air travel is a likely pipe dream for the foreseeable future based on weight and power ratios. As to trucking that is more interesting. A more somber review of the current status from Robert Poole at reason magazine concerning Nikola and Tesla's entrants into Cass 8 trucking suggests that we are a long way off . Then there are the electric grid issues, and the where's all the battery minerals coming? from problem.

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No, they've developed some very energy dense batteries for aircraft applications now, up to 1000Wh/kg. And a lot of companies are developing electric commuter aircraft. They will likely never be practical for long range aircraft, except as hybrids or possibly hydrogen fuel cell powered, but H2 is a nasty fuel even if it is lightweight.

I would say Robert Poole knows zip. Musk isn't building a $7B factory for semi-Trucks right now because they are "a long way off". With a 2yr backlog of orders. The data is clear ~$70k/yr savings in energy by going electric and a 500mile range. That is certainly viable. There are always grid issues when building any factory. Big Industrial electricity consumers are accommodated into the grid every day. That's routine. Quite different from a big expansion in urban or suburban power demand in the daytime or evening.

As for battery materials. That's exactly what I said. There will be shortages of batteries for up to 50yrs yet. That's why the all the logic dictates that battery production be directed to diesel transportation replacement, not light duty vehicles and not wind/solar storage.

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