Help settle the Renewable Energy Debate at The Economist

Guest post by Robert Bradley, Master Resource

I have been studying the global warming debate from a physical scientific and political economy basis for 20 years. And I remain amazed at how the energy/climate alarmists will not concede (are ‘in denial’) that the human influence on climate can be positive, not only negative, from an ecological and economic perspective.

The work of leading climate economist Robert Mendelsohn calculates net positive externalities for much of the world from anthropogenic warming at the bottom of the canonic IPCC temperature range. And climate scientist Gerald North of Texas A&M convinced me that the models would eventually get to a warming range of 20C, plus or minus 0.250C, for a doubling of atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gas in equilibrium. (Dr. North was my paid consultant back in my Enron days, tasked with helping me figure out just where the middle ground was in the contentious debate.)

Mendelsohn plus North: a net positive externality from manmade greenhouse gas emissions. And a win for fossil fuels even before getting to the political economy question of comparing ‘market failure’ against ‘government failure’ to evaluate the case for government intervention.

Now to the renewable energy debate online at The Economist magazine where I was invited to oppose the motion: “This house believes that subsidising renewable energy is a good way to wean the world off fossil fuels.”

In my opening statement, I argued that renewable energy was doomed by physics for reasons that were first comprehended by British economist W. S. Jevons in his 1865 classic, The Coal Question.

Noting the taxpayer and environmentalist backlash against wind and solar facilities, as well as the inability of intermittent energies to exist without fossil-fuel blending/firming, I found myself squarely back at the premise to the motion: that fossil fuels were bad.

With peak oil and peak gas waylaid by the shale revolution, and the statistics of less pollution alongside greater fossil-fuel usage, the question then got back to global warming (my rebuttal statement). My closing statement summed up my case for the increasing sustainability of fossil fuels, not only the failure of renewable energy.

Economist debate moderator, James Astill, is upset. After all, we should all know that the human influence on climate is severe and bad and government must do something! He complains:

In my previous offering, I confess I underestimated how relaxed our opposer, Robert Bradley, was about global warming. I thought he did not consider it a problem. It now seems he is rather in favour of it. “A moderately warmer and wetter world, natural or manmade,” Mr Bradley writes, “is arguably a better world.”

I said “moderate warming,” Sir. And I said “arguably,” Sir. Why is your world so black and white, and black in favor of energy statism? Given the public and political backlash against climate alarmism and forced energy transformation, and the very comments and voting cast in this forum, perhaps it is time to debate rather than assume.

Astill continues:

This shows how far Mr Bradley has strayed from the question in hand: concerning the desirability, or otherwise, of subsidising renewables as a means to stop the world burning fossil fuels. I do not blame him exactly. It stands to reason that no one untroubled by the prospect of global warming would bother himself with wonky, expensive renewables. But, alas, that does not describe this house. It assumes that a way to get the world off fossil fuels must be found.

Astill is missing the energy forest for the politically correct trees. Compared to dilute, intermittent, and environmentally invasive wind and solar power, fossil fuels are socially advantageous. And even assuming high climate sensitivity to GHG forcing, ‘market failure’ must be balanced with ‘analytical failure’ and with ‘government failure.’ No more assuming the problem, the solution, and perfect government implementation of the ‘solution.’ The era of magical energy postmodernism must end!

I invite readers of WUWT to visit, read, and vote. I like my case. As I conclude my final statement: “The best energy future belongs to the efficient and to the free.”

Realism and optimism, anyone?

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157 Responses to Help settle the Renewable Energy Debate at The Economist

  1. Curiousgeorge says:

    Wannabe Saviors must always have something to save the rest of us from. Otherwise they have no reason for existence. If nature doesn’t provide that “something”, then they must invent one. Hence political and religious movements and ideology.

  2. vboring says:

    The question is wrong.

    It is a matter of time before nuclear fusion power is practical, if properly funded.

    The question should be: What is the best bridge technology for the next 50-150 years?

    A mix of fossil fuels and nuclear fission power, with an increasing share of fission. Between GE’s PRISM reactors and the thorium LFTR designs, the fuel and waste disposal issues were solved before 1980. Renewables are expensive and nearly worthless to the market because of their high integration costs.

  3. Allencic says:

    Alternative energy only makes sense if you truly believe that carbon dioxide is the devil incarnate. If it’s not, there is no point whatsover for wind or solar.
    It all comes down to E=MC2 or for non-nuclear, E=MV2. To get enough “E” you either need lots of “M” (mass”) or very high “V” (velocity). Wind has very little mass and thus must move very, very fast to produce much “E”. Or in practical terms you must litter vast areas of the landscape with windmills. Solar is fine with E=MC2 but the problem is the nuclear reaction is 92 million miles away and once again enormous areas of land must be covered with solar panels to produce enough “E”. The chemical reactions that release energy are far more efficient and of course, that’s why we’ve burned carbon based fuels for thousands of years.
    Solar has about 1/10th the energy density of wood, wood is about half as energy dense as coal,coal about 1/2 that of gasoline and of course the really winner is nuclear power which is around 2 million times as energy powerful as gasoline.
    Those who advocate wind or solar simply have the laws of physics against them. They can’t break those laws without destroying the landscape and/or the economy.

  4. Juraj V. says:

    The Econiomist is firmly in AGW camp, see its Climategate reporting. Somebody from there heavily invested into the green chimera, just like the BBC Pension fund managers.

  5. Bertram Felden says:

    It was because of environmentalist entryism in the Economist that I cancelled my subscription to that newspaper after more than 20 years of readership.

    They don’t seem to be missing me.

  6. oldseadog says:

    Voted; No.

  7. AleaJactaEst says:

    fascinating to see the moderators non-moderating stance. Where is the balance in his summing up? That’s par for the course with our warmist friends I’m afraid. And they wonder why we laugh at them.

    “….The moderator role may be played by any person who (1) has offered to be moderator for the question, (2) is (one of) the most knowledgeable of such people, and who (3) does not have any strong feelings about the topic, with special weight given to someone who declares no partiality at all……” from http://www.textop.org/wiki/index.php?title=How_to_construct_a_debate_summary#The_moderator_role

  8. RockyRoad says:

    And I remain amazed at how the energy/climate alarmists will not concede (are ‘in denial’) that the human influence on climate can be positive, not only negative, from an ecological and economic perspective.

    Don’t be–if you’ve studied this movement as long as you claim, by now you undoubtedly understand it has little or nothing to do with promoting humans. It has everything to do with suppressing humans. (But really, since these people hate other humans so much, why don’t they internalized their loathing against themselves and not vent it on others–although their real goal is to control others for their personal gain.)

  9. Jon says:

    “And I remain amazed at how the energy/climate alarmists will not concede (are ‘in denial’) that the human influence on climate can be positive, not only negative, from an ecological and economic perspective.”

    I’d be interested in some “positive” ecological impacts that humans have had on our planet … can you list any?

  10. theduke says:

    That is such an elegant argument. Thank you, Mr. Bradley.

  11. I just posted @Economist:

    Dear Sir,

    Thomas Gold provided (when he was still alive) plenty of evidence that the whole meme of “fossil” fuels is erroneous. Subsurface hydrocarbons are the best sources of abundant, cheap energy. That, when burned, they release carbon dioxide, the gas of life, is a net positive for life on earth, including human life.

    If you believe humans are a cancer on the surface of the earth, you will support the misanthropic campaign against energy from subsurface hydrocarbons.

    If you believe that the most important resource on this planet is the curiosity, inventiveness, and intelligence of ordinary and extraordinary humans, you will continue to burn subsurface hydrocarbons in support of human progress.

    W. Earl Allen
    Broomfield, CO, USA

  12. LarryD says:

    Astill’s premises are articles of faith. He will not be moved by logic, reason, or evidence.

  13. John F. Hultquist says:

    Robert,

    Going to the link given and under

    “Thoughts?
    Vote now or add your view”

    I clicked and — nothing happened! Perhaps I need to register or something. Of equal note: About twice each year The Economist sends a high quality color packet of material inviting me to pay to have their views sent to me on a regular basis. In the interest of knowing what they are up to, I suppose I ought to do that. I don’t. I throw their high carbon impact waste into my recycle bin. Should anyone at The Economist care to search their files and remove my name from their solicitation list, please do. Gaia approves.

  14. Smokey says:

    Voted: No.

  15. Rob Potter says:

    Bertram Felden says:
    November 16, 2011 at 8:14 am

    “It was because of environmentalist entryism in the Economist that I cancelled my subscription to that newspaper after more than 20 years of readership.”

    I too gave up my subscription to the Economist on this basis. Previoulsy I had been impressed by their highly skeptical views of scientific pronouncements of doom, even one article which catalogued the route from interesting science, through press alarmism and government intervention to the inevitable climb-down and grudging acceptance of reality. That this article appeared early on in the switch from catastrophic cooling to catastrophic warming (somewhere around the mid 90’s I suspect), encouraged me that they would such science as skeptically as they treated economic projections and political promises.

    Sadly, this has not proven to be the case and thus we have loaded “questions” in the debate such that a supposedly impartial moderator can dismiss the arguments provided by Mr Bradley as peripheral to the argument. In one sense, this is correct, but only because the question itself is so loaded as to be meaningless. Although I applaud Mr Bradley for his efforts and his argument, he has accepted the flawed premise that the world must be “weaned off fossil fuels” simply by taking part in the debate.

    This is where a good deal of the problem lies at present – the ground rules for the debate are being set by people with an interventionist agenda and so the questions already loaded into accepting positions that should be challenged from the outset. Rather like the old favourite “Have you stopped beating your wife, yet?” discussing the best way to wean the world off fossil fuels is not something that can be asked until we know that utilising fossil fuels presents a problem (i.e. that there is no evidence that you are beating your wife in the first place).

  16. Roger Longstaff says:

    Allencic says: November 16, 2011 at 8:11 am:

    A beautiful little essay, sir or madam!

    May I borrow it?

  17. James Sexton says:

    Robert, this argument will continue. As RockyRoad points out, the physical limitations and lack of practicality of renewable energy does not dissuade these people. The multiple advantages of cheap, plentiful, and reliable energy means nothing to these people. They are misanthropists. They hide behind issues such as ecology and peak this or that, but, in the end, if the cause advances human suffering and/or death rates, then they are squarely for it.

  18. richard verney says:

    A warmer and wetter world would from a bio diversity point of view obviously be beneficial. It is no coincident that bio-diversity is greatest in the tropical rainforest and at its least extensive in frigid cold conditions.

    If one traces the history of civilasation, it will be seen that it eminates from warm climes. The only norther covilasation of note were the Vikings and again it is no coicidence that they florished during the Viking warm period.

    It is a scam that moderate warming (by which I mean up to 6 degC and possibly a little higher) would, on an overall basis, be anything other than good for planet Earth.

  19. DR says:

    Robert,
    I visit your website often. Excellent work, Sir!

  20. Allencic says:

    Roger Longstaff,
    I have to give credit where credit is due. I took my info from the best single article on the renewable energy question I’ve ever read. It’s by William Tucker in the November 16, 2011 “Energy Tribune”. I’ve forwarded to too many friends and colleagues to count. It is excellent, clean, simple and true. In other words, unlike almost everything the enviro camp proposes.

    Just google William Tucker Energy Tribune November 16, 2011 and It’ll pop up.

  21. jaypan says:

    Important post, Robert.
    By the end of the day, it’s a discussion between the “we can do”-people and the “oh no, its all dangerous”-people. In average life, the oh-nos just do nothing meaningful, but complain. No harm.The AGW-oh-no people are far more dangerous. They condemn use of energy, sitting in their comfortable environment, but want stop others reach that stage. I’d call this inhumane.

    Decades ago, when computer memory was extremely expensive, an article opened with a headline saying “What if mass storage were free”. Enlightening, and became sort of true.
    Think further “What if energy were free”.
    I’d call that progress, we’ll get there and am sure we’ll handle the resulting “problems”.

  22. pittzer says:

    Money = energy

    Subsidies = money

    In the final analysis, we will burn that energy no matter what. All “renewable energy” subsidies do are to take energy and move it from a concentrated, efficient state to one that is lesser.

    It belongs in the laboratory, not in production. You’ll know when it is ready for primetime because the world will demand it and you will be able to tax the hell out of it.

  23. John says:

    To Jon (8:21 AM):

    I certainly agree that humans have destroyed a great deal of the natural world. There are very real ecological problems that need to be dealt with. Overfishing and species extinctions are major issues to me, for example, but I’m not going to make a long list here.

    That said, under normal circumstances the earth should be a degree or more cooler than we are, and heading down into the next ice age, absent GHGs and black carbon and other positive climate forcings.

    Irony abounds, and it is possible that moderate warming could actually be quite helpful, should it remain moderate, in keeping us out of the slow slide into the next ice age. If anyone thinks that there might be starvation with increased warming, ask how much starvation there would be in a considerably colder world with shorter growing seasons. The CO2 increases certainly will create better growing conditions, everything else equal, purely due to fertilizing effects.

    In the long and big picture, we humans stumble blindly — yet we might just stumble into something positive, again should warming remain moderate.

  24. jorgekafkazar says:

    Roger Longstaff says re:Allencic’s comment, November 16, 2011 at 8:11 am:

    “A beautiful little essay, sir or madam! May I borrow it?”

    Yes, Roger, I noted it, too. Very succinct. An impressive piece.

  25. John F. Hultquist says:

    Jon says:
    November 16, 2011 at 8:21 am

    I’d be interested in some “positive” ecological impacts that humans have had on our planet … can you list any?
    ————————————————

    I’d be interested in some “positive” ecological impacts that elephants have had on our planet … can you list any?

    I’d be interested in some “positive” ecological impacts that parasites have had on our planet … can you list any?

    I’d be interested in some “positive” ecological impacts that glaciers have had on our planet … can you list any?

    Glaciers, parasites, elephants, and humans are products of and contributors to Earth’s systems. They likely could not agree on the meaning of ‘positive’. Current medical treatment for congestive heart failure is listed as positive on my list. My best friend and spouse has a new valve in her heart and an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) next to her collarbone. These followed the use of an intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP). And that followed (. . . insert long list here . . .). All of these amazing things followed human’s investigations of and use of Earth’s resources. Maybe you have to have seen someone you love on full life support for 8 days to appreciate such things and think of them as positive.

    But having responded generally, notice the specific use of the term “climate” in the phrase you quote from Mr. Bradley. If humans manage to warm the world a bit by keeping the concentration of CO2 above 170 ppm – that might be considered positive for all life on Earth. Mr. Bradley also used the phrase “economic perspective.” I am not interested in living in a pre-stone-age economy. I think you have selectively mischaracterized his thesis.

  26. More Soylent Green! says:

    You said “Peak Oil.” No!!!!

    Let the lecturing begin yet again.

  27. Petrossa says:

    I love the phrase ‘renewable energy’……. One wonders if the proponents ever went to school or skipped physics class altogether.

  28. Bill Thomson says:

    At 8:21 am Jon asked:
    “I’d be interested in some “positive” ecological impacts that humans have had on our planet … can you list any?”
    Here’s one that the doomsayers are loathe to mention. Crop yields have been increasing significantly around the world as the level of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased. Numerous controlled experiments have also shown that there is a causal relationship between increased CO2 in the atmosphere and increased plant growth.

  29. This has nothing to do with science and everything to do with power, greed, ideology and faith. Science is deductive and priori while faith is inductive and apriori. The two are incompatible and should not be confused.

  30. More Soylent Green! says:

    All kidding about the “Peak Oil” thing aside, the problem is you’re trying to have a reasoned, fact-based debate on a topic where the proponents aren’t interested in reason or facts.

    For argument’s sake, let’s accept the AGW premise that human greenhouse gas emissions are causing global warming (or climate change, or climate disruption, or whatever their calling it now).

    Let’s say it’s true. The problem is none of the alternatives work as well as the energy sources they replace. Do people really want oil or coal, or natural gas, or do they want the power derived from those sources? Of course it’s the power we want, not the energy sources themselves.

    If given a choice between clean power and dirty power, who wouldn’t want clean power? If given a choice between fossil fuels and renewable energy, who wouldn’t choose renewables? Who prefers more pollution over less pollution?

    But those really aren’t our current choices. Our current choices are between fossil fuels which provide reliable, affordable power and sources that provide expensive, unreliable power. Our choices are between energy sources that can meet our needs and energy sources that can never meet our needs because we can’t blanket every field with either a wind farm or solar farm, transmit the energy to where it’s needed now and store it for later use the sun ain’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing. And EVs that can’t get us one-way to Grandma’s house won’t work for us, either.

    Of course we can generate a lot more electricity with nuclear. If you can get through the permits and the protests and the lawsuits that prevent us from building more nuclear power plants.

  31. James Sexton says:

    Jon says:
    November 16, 2011 at 8:21 am

    “And I remain amazed at how the energy/climate alarmists will not concede (are ‘in denial’) that the human influence on climate can be positive, not only negative, from an ecological and economic perspective.”

    I’d be interested in some “positive” ecological impacts that humans have had on our planet … can you list any?
    =================================================
    Sigh, how about flood control? Paved roads. Irrigation. Insecticides. All of these have had positive impacts on our environment.

  32. uan says:

    Jon says:
    November 16, 2011 at 8:21 am

    “I’d be interested in some “positive” ecological impacts that humans have had on our planet … can you list any?”
    ————————–

    large scale farming (and small scale farming for that matter) that feeds millions/billions of people. Irrigation that provides the water to those farms and the billion plus people who live in cities around the world. Southern California comes to mind.

    Almost every human activity has impact on the environment, some positive, most neutral and some negative.

  33. James Sexton says:

    Renewable energy is just a euphemism for the Quixotic pursuit of the perpetual motion machine. I can’t believe there are so many gullible people out there that believe such a machine exists to put to practical use. Why can’t people simply deal with reality?

  34. I have never understood why used oil, a very renewable energy source, is simply burned as a fuel instead of re-refining it and placing it back on the market. Oil does not get used up it just gets contaminated, once you run it back through the refining process you get almost a 1:1 ratio of usable oil in return. That means less oil we have to purchase and less dependency on the whims and fickleness of Foreign Governments. You would think every Politician and every Greeny would be all over that.

  35. G. Karst says:

    Allencic says:
    November 16, 2011 at 9:13 am

    Roger Longstaff,
    I have to give credit where credit is due. I took my info from the best single article on the renewable energy question I’ve ever read. It’s by William Tucker in the November 16, 2011 “Energy Tribune”. I’ve forwarded to too many friends and colleagues to count. It is excellent, clean, simple and true. In other words, unlike almost everything the enviro camp proposes.

    Just google William Tucker Energy Tribune November 16, 2011 and It’ll pop up.

    I have been unable to locate this essay. Either it has been removed, or I am having one of those bizarro days. Link please. GK

  36. Jon at 8:21 asks “I’d be interested in some “positive” ecological impacts that humans have had on our planet … can you list any?”

    Easy, the ratio of self aware to non-self-aware life on the planet has greaty improved as the human population has grown. Plus we’ve eliminated the smallpox virus and will soon eliminate more pests.

  37. ChE says:

    There’s also a side issue of the non-climate effects of CO2. There is some reason to believe that the extra CO2 in the atmosphere is fertilizing both crops and forests (and ocean algae, etc.). This needs to be considered (but I don’t think certain people want the hear the answer).

  38. Hugh Pepper says:

    Now I know why I no longer own Enron shares! Wow!

  39. Henry Phipps says:

    GK:
    I think this is the link you are seeking.
    http://www.energytribune.com/articles.cfm/2469/Understanding-E-=-mc2

    I have a lot of bizarro days. Makes life interesting.

  40. mizimi says:

    Jon asks what positive impact humans have had on the environment.
    Well, some few millions of years ago the biosphere had just about used up the most readily available CO2 and atmospheric levels were only a little above what would sustain C3 plant life (180ppm). Evolution produced C4 plants (mostly grasses and associated genera) which could survive on lower levels of CO2 but which are unable ( because of the low levels of CO2) to achieve the size/mass of C3’s. I am not 100% sure, but I think you will find fossil fuels are all derived from C3 plants.
    So our contribution is to restore CO2 levels to what is good for the biosphere….around 500ppm as a minimum….( the concentration at which increased plant growth begins to level off) and if, as a consequence, the world gets slightly warmer, that too is a good thing. Life does better when it is warm…compare the tropics to higher latitudes.

  41. Jit says:

    I’m sure Jon can answer for himself, but to all those who have listed positive contributions of humanity: none of those are ECOLOGICAL benefits.

  42. pittzer says:

    @ Steve Lindsey. If you are talking about used motor oil and putting it back through a catalytic cracking process, I think it’s simply a matter of the amount of energy you would have to put back into it and the product(s) that would result.

    My understanding of it in the current economic circumstances, with crude oil at it’s current prices, it really only makes sense to clean out the particulates, carbon and water that exists in used motor oil and sell it as bunker fuel. The process to do this has low energy inputs, and operates safely at very low pressures and temperatures. This cheap, simple process yields a cheap fuel that is in demand and avoids a TON of regulation. For example, I think it’s been something like 30 years since the last oil refinery was built on US soil.

    Perhaps there’s petrochemical engineer around that can take this further.

  43. Urederra says:

    In order for plants, or any photosynthetic organism for that matter, to grow, CO2 has to collide into the active center of an enzyme called RUBISCO. The collisions are completely random. nothing guides CO2 towards the active center of RUBISCO.

    At the beginning of the 20th century there were only 350 molecules of CO2 per million molecules, meaning that only 350 collisions out of one million could result on a successful CO2 fixation reaction. The ratio is too low and the speed of the reation too slow, plants have to produce a lot of RUBISCO enzymes in order to be able to capture enough CO2 to grow, and “This makes rubisco the most plentiful single enzyme on the Earth.” (Quoted from the article I linked above.)

    The composition of air nowadays is closer to 400 parts per million, which means that about 400 collisions out of one million could result on CO2 fixation, compared to only 350 out of one million at the beginning of the 20th century. That increase of successful collision rate increases plant growth, making burning fuels the most ecologically friendly form of energy.

    It is logical, after all, oil and coal comes from decaying organic matter, mainly plants and animals, Those plants and animals grew by incorporating CO2 from the atmosphere, so when we burn fossil fuels we are closing the carbon cycle. You cannot be more ecological than that.

  44. Jon says:

    uan … those examples you listed are great with repect to the needs of humans but highly detrimental to the natural environment.

  45. aaron says:

    The Stern report is to me the strongest evidence that warming is beneficial. It took about seven hundred pages of mental gymnastics to come up with a set of assumptions where warming is anything but good.

  46. Mooloo says:

    I’d be interested in some “positive” ecological impacts that humans have had on our planet … can you list any?

    !) The countryside of Germany and England is beautiful. Not one bit of it is natural. Left without humans it would revert to a monstrous forest. Pristine, but boring (and not particularly good for diversity, since it is the forest edge that supports the widest variety).

    2) There are couple of parts of the world that would be desert without our irrigation.

    3) The malarial swamps of Italy were “pristine”. Draining them would, nowadays, probably be regarded as an ecological disaster by the ultra-Greens. But most people would think that modern Italy is far better off without them.

  47. DirkH says:

    Jon says:
    November 16, 2011 at 8:21 am
    “I’d be interested in some “positive” ecological impacts that humans have had on our planet … can you list any?”

    The heroic efforts of the Canadians to clean up one of the largest natural oil spills in Alberta.

  48. philincalifornia says:

    I wish I had more time to write today, as this topic warrants much more of a response. I’m talking about the specific segment of advanced liquid biofuels. This segment is hopping right now as anyone who went to the Advanced Biofuels Markets Conference in San Francisco last week will tell you (I did).

    In addition to profits, it is now being driven more by two other considerations than by atmospheric CO2 considerations.

    First, US energy security. Google Green Strike Group for the military angle. At some point when I have more time, I’ll upload the Powerpoint presentation on that.

    Second, and something that was somewhat unexpected, it turns out that there are a lot of specialty chemicals that cannot be accessed easily from petroleum due to their complexity of structure, etc. Biological systems can do this for many classes of compounds that have high value (sometimes orders of magnitude greater than fuels). This is, in turn, driving the feedstock companies to deliver cheaper sugars from all kinds of sources. This technology is working.

    Like I said, I wish I had more time to write this morning. Don’t rule out this sector. Look at where the biotech IPOs are coming from: Codexis, Amyris, Solazyme, probably another 10 S1 documents filed.

    This link is a good start:

    http://biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2011/11/16/advanced-biofuels-chemicals-capacity-to-reach-5-11b-gallons-by-2015-207-projects-new-database/

  49. Mr Bradley, it’s disrespectful of you to write “global warming” without capitalizing the words. Would you write ‘Catholic’ with a small c, or ‘Methodist’ with a small m? Sarc/ click, bang, sarc/.

    Sorry about the stuck sarcasm flag. It’s hard for me to keep a straight face when the topic is debating an issue which must be assumed to be true.

  50. DirkH says:

    Jon says:
    November 16, 2011 at 8:21 am
    “I’d be interested in some “positive” ecological impacts that humans have had on our planet … can you list any?”

    I think Jon’s question points to something deeper. An “ecological impact” is defined by ecology, the science.

    Ecologists see ANY human interference as bad – say, if you were to spread some fertilizer around in wildland, maybe you want to help some starving plants, but ecologists would condemn your actions because you would change that ecosystem. A natural forest fire is just natural, but if a human starts a forest fire, it’s of course the destruction of an ecosystem and so forth.

    Humans can consequently never have a positive ecological impact per definitionem.

    This also explains why environmental pressure groups never actually try to save animals or plants but only travel around protesting.

  51. Curiousgeorge says:

    @ Jit says:
    November 16, 2011 at 10:35 am

    I’m sure Jon can answer for himself, but to all those who have listed positive contributions of humanity: none of those are ECOLOGICAL benefits.

    ================================================================

    Why is it that the environmental community, generally, considers the human species to be not part of the Ecology of planet Earth? As if we were some kind of extra-terrestrial invaders. As far as I’m aware, we evolved here, which by definition means we are as much a part of the life of this planet as anything else. Is this some kind of self-imposed guilt trip for being a successful species?

  52. Smokey says:

    Right now the voting is 50/50. If the same question had been debated a year ago it probably would have been 70/30 Yes.

    We’re making a difference. Please help out, register and vote No. It would be a great pleasure to see the enviro-Economist lose this one.

  53. Robert Brown says:

    It is very important to separate the questions of what kind of energy production mechanism(s) make economic sense from the unproven debate over CO_2. This is one of the most serious flaws in the entire current public policy discussion — the two are conflated and people with strong opinions on either one are being seduced into throwing their weight behind the other.

    Let me start by saying that I am enormously skeptical that the AGW hypothesis is correct. I have no “dog in the fight” — I don’t do research on this except indirectly and as a hobby — but a sober examination of the data and arguments reveals a chilling pattern of cherrypicking, confirmation bias, open manipulation of both data and methodology all towards the single minded end of convincing the work of the probable truth of the JOINT statement “The world is getting warmer” AND “The proximate cause is anthropogenic CO_2″. Since the world without much doubt got warmer since the little ice age (LIA), it naturally inclines people to believe the latter, but when one looks at the actual curves associated with CO_2 increase and temperature increase, the latter is utterly incapable of describing or predicting the FEATURES of the latter, and there is also ample evidence that warm as it may or may not be compared to some imagined “temperature that it is supposed to be” (absent CO_2) the warmth is clearly within the reasonable natural climate variability visible in the proxy reconstructed record (reconstructed by everybody but Mann or other members of the hockey team, that is).

    Bayes thus gives us little reason to look for CO_2 as a proximate primary cause, and little hope of being able to resolve its effect from both noise (the essentially chaotic processes that cause significant excursions of the average global temperature from day to day, month to month) and from influences such as (again largely unpredictable) microstate of the various oscillations (solar cycle, ENSO, PDO, AO) that are known to exert a tremendous influence on the mesoscale temperature given that we KNOW that the latter and possibly unknown mechanisms of forcing and feedback are capable of producing all or most of the LONG term variation that is visible in the climatological record WITHOUT the meaningful participation of CO_2 as a driver.

    It makes little sense, then, to create an enormously expensive global economic policy that has a huge impact on people’s lives and pocketbooks out of fear that all of this MIGHT be true. So let’s put that aside. Perhaps CO_2 is indeed a problem — the hypothesis is far from DISproven either — the truth is that we just don’t know yet because we cannot explain the entire thermal record in any way that is even vaguely plausible. The best we can do is “fit” parts of it with local patches based on various assumptions that turn out not to work very well to explain the whole thing, a very iffy thing to do using only fifteen or twenty decades of data (some of it highly abused and distorted data) in a system where some of the important drivers have periodicities of a thousand CENTURIES.

    There’s a lovely paper I have squirrelled away of what happens when one tries to fit a simple sine function (times noise) on the basis of intervals 0.1, 0.5, 1.5 radians long. It illustrates the basic fallacy of most of the “climate debate” at this point, and why local models suck when you try to extrapolate them.

    Now let me SEPARATELY comment on your remarks on renewable energy vs fossil fuels (specifically oil, coal and natural gas). Separately because this is a completely distinct issue — I don’t care about CO_2 emissions or H_2O emission (coal burns to mostly the former, the latter two burn to both) but there are aspects of burning any of them that are highly undesireable. A list might look like:

    * Scarcity. In all cases the resources have significant costs associated with finding them, developing them, and using them. Once developed, the resources generally become depleted. The costs associated with developing new resources as the old ones are depleted scale up with time as we find and develop the “easy” wells/mines first and the more difficult ones later. Scarcity in an energy hungry world drives the costs (and the price) up still more. The result is an ever-increasing spiral of prices in real dollars — not a very good thing given that the continued development of modern civilization relies on energy, as a fundamental resource that more or less sets the value of money (not the other way around) progressively elevating the real cost of nearly everything.

    * Equity. Who owns, or should own, these resources? Various individuals and companies become enormously wealthy from them, and will become still wealthier as they ride the cost-spiral up. Enormously wealthy corporations and individuals represent a huge threat to the civil and political liberties of all humans with far less wealth, as even a cursory glance at history can reveal. Wars have been and continue to be fought over them. Politicians are bought and sold because of them. People are advantaged or disadvantaged, often critically, during the huge fluctuations that have occurred in the supply chain (some of them artificial and INTENDED to frighten people into giving still more power and access to those that control the chain, IMO).

    * Hidden costs. When one burns coal for fuel, there is a wide range of biproducts released into the atmosphere that include sulphuric acid and mercury, particulate soot, carbon MONoxide, and more. Oil has its own set of toxicities associated with its use. Natural gas is safer than either one, but not yet a particularly common primary fuel. Mining or drilling for all three do a variety of kinds of real damage and have both risks and health costs that are borne by those that work in the mines, drill the oil, refine the fuels. Many of these costs are not borne by the producer (see the bit about “corrupting politicians” above) and are a hidden cost borne by society as a whole, inequitably so that the producers of the energy can maintain their enormous profits. These costs function as something between a hidden tax and a hidden subsidy of the fossil fuel industry, and when comparing subsidy costs need to be taken into account (or at least, acknowledged and estimated).

    * Sustainability. Fossil fuels are, to put it bluntly, not sustainable. I take all the crap about peak oil, peak this, peak that all being last year or ten years away with a grain of salt, but it is impossible to deny that there will BE a peak and worse, that at one point or another the diminishing returns and spiralling costs will make them completely untenable as a basis for a sustained global civilization. We aren’t idiots — we are at this point bright enough, and technically educated enough, to see this coming and we WOULD be fools if we did not use this precious time where we DO have relatively abundant, relatively cheap fossil fuel energy to bootstrap a civilization that will not be vulnerable to the crash that will otherwise come when cost per watt exceeds some critical threshold in real comparative value.

    * Alternate value. One of the greatest tragedies associated with burning fossil fuels is that they have so much value NOT burned. Everything made with oil and coal is far more expensive because of the tremendous demand (relative to the supply) competing for the scarce resource and driving up the prices. Again, one would rather like to see a steady-state civilization emerge where this resource is “inexhaustible”, but this will not happen as long as we’re burning the plastic we might want to make in the year 5082 in the SUVs of 2011. A more obscure risk or future value that might be much greater than the present is visible in the interesting fact that I just learned (reading pages on climate change, actually) — during the last few ice ages, CO_2 levels dropped because of increased absorption in the colder oceans and reduced biological activity to just a few tens of PPM above the point where its partial pressure no longer can sustain non-oceanic plant life. The ice age is coming back sooner or later, and if we’ve burned all the carbon based fuels, the CO_2 has been taken up and fallen to the ocean floor as carbonates or in other forms to be carried under in the great recycling of the subduction of tectonic plates, we might be giving up a critical resource that could sustain life itself at that time, at least as we know it. As you say, CO_2 is GOOD for plant life, but right now there is plenty of it for plants. The time we really, really might need it is in (say) around 10,000 years, well into the next period of glaciation.

    * Capital vs operating cost ratio. Fuel burning plants are expensive to build (high capital cost) and then expensive to run (ongoing fuel cost). Worse, as noted the cost of their product is highly sensitive to vagaries in the supply chain, which can easily be interrupted by war, politics, economics, human greed.

    To summarize, quite independent of global warming, objections that any of us might have to the wholesale mining and burning of fossil fuels is that it is EXPENSIVE, DIRTY, and NOT SUSTAINABLE and that it will never become cheap, clean, or sustainable. The best of the bad lot is natural gas, which alas is not easy to use as a vehicle fuel. I also freely acknowledge that nothing is going to easily be able to compete with gasoline as a vehicle fuel — it has a phenomenal energy density and that energy can be turned into motive power with proven technology quite easily.

    NOW, let us compare that to renewable energy sources. They, too, have many of these problems, but the problems, costs and benefits are tremendously variable. For the sake of argument, then, let’s pick just one of many possibilities, “traditional” solar cells made from silicon semiconductors. Silicon has to be mined, but Silicon is actually the most abundant element and hence truly is inexhaustible. Transforming e.g. sand into silicon takes energy and has other costs overt and hidden. Doping silicon requires toxic metals e.g. arsenic. I don’t think that the costs and hidden costs are “a wash” comparing oil, coal, gas to silicon cells — I think that they are almost certainly smaller, per watt over the lifetime of a cell, for silicon cells. Sure, it costs land to build solar plants — it costs FAR MORE for the land and rights required mine coal or drill for oil or build pipelines or refineries or transportation channels or delivery systems, and honestly, most people will end up simply turning their roof into one, big solar collector, starting very soon.

    We can see this by comparing the energy yield of a dollar both ways. To use round numbers, lets assume the retail cost of a one-watt solar cell is $1 (it’s higher, but only slightly). To balance this, let’s assume that one gallon of gasoline costs only $3.00. Gasoline contains roughly 132 MJ of energy. This energy, however, isn’t all useable. Only roughly 25% of it is eventually available for doing work, call it 40 MJ to be generous. 1/3 of this is 13 MJ, call it 15 (I don’t want to be accused of being cruel to the oil industry or short-changing it).

    The 1 Watt from the solar cell is its nominal peak energy already (actual efficiency is already factored in) but one does have to correct for things like insolation time and angle. Those limit its energy delivery to perhaps 1/3 of the day and 1/2 of its peak value. It doesn’t matter if these aren’t quite right — they are close enough for our estimate. The winner is, or should be, rather obvious already.

    That means that we can get roughly 1 watt for 1/6 of every day. There are roughly 30 million seconds in a year, we can (effectively) use 5 million of them. That is 5 MJ of annual production from our humble one-watt cell. 3 years of production matches the usable energy available in a gallon of gasoline. The expected useful life of the cell is roughly 30 years (with a gradual decline in output, but arriving at the end still making perhaps 0.8 watts, again ignorable in this rough estimate). That is 150 MJ of energy over its lifetime, ten times the usuable yield of the gallon of gasoline. From this it is pretty clear why I could be sloppy. Even allowing for factors of TWO here or there it isn’t even close.

    This is why the issue is a non-issue. You assertion that solar cells are undesirable or economically worse than fossil fuels is itself false. We are already at break even to win a lot (with or without subsidies) in states with high insolation and high baseline energy costs. Solar cells are getting cheaper at roughly 7-10% per year. That means in 7 to 10 years they will cost order of $0.50 a watt, adding another factor of two to their raw cost-benefit compared to fossil fuels. Does anyone actually believe that fossil fuels will be CHEAPER in 10 years? Really?

    To conclude, it makes absolutely no difference what one believes about carbon or the goodness or evil of fossil fuels. In a decade, fossil fuel utilization will be plunging like a rock, forced to drop prices to match the downward spiral of just this ONE technology of solar cell, which may well not end up being the winner in a race that is really just now getting well underway. I can understand why the GOP (and its fossil fuel based energy backers) wants to do away with the DOE — it has, with its investments in research, destroyed their entire industry. They know it. Soon everybody will no it. People won’t give up carbon because they want to hug trees, they’ll give up carbon because it is stupid to burn carbon for fuel.

    To give it up all the way will take time, of course. As one of the first posters pointed out, fusion is very likely to EVENTUALLY be worked out, and it is the only truly sustainable, inexhaustible fossil fuel. In the meantime, we will move towards replacing the expensive load levelling natural gas plants with solar, with a huge fraction of residential and commercial with solar, and increasingly use the fossil fuels to supply power at night and on cloudy days. Eventually the problem of storing solar efficiently and cheaply may be solved, but even if it isn’t solar will probably replace 30-50% of our energy consumption in thirty years, driven purely by humans, saving money, because it will be CHEAPER that way and MORE PROFITABLE to invest in solar than in drilling wells and digging mines and paying for a dwindling supply of dirty fuel.

    In the meantime, the world will surely not be HARMED if we produce less CO_2, at least not at the moment. Nor will it be harmed by the near-bankrupting of the many of the oil producing countries with their deadly politics and religious intolerance and abuse. Nor will it be harmed by the gradual elimination of undersea wells that can blow out, the acid rain, the soot, the mercury, and the enormous and readily abused political power and influence of the oil and energy barons of the present.

    rgb

  54. Septic Matthew says:

    Allencic: Alternative energy only makes sense if you truly believe that carbon dioxide is the devil incarnate.

    Alternative energy makes sense if continued investment drives down the cost enough. In Brazil, energy from ethanol is cheaper than energy from gasoline; this resulted from 25 years continuous investment in the technology by the Brazilian government. Eventually (say 20 years) the same will be true of biodiesel vs petrodiesel in the U.S, and probably true of cellulosic ethanol vs gasoline.

    The cost of extracting America’s shale gas will be huge; a writer at TheOilDrum estimated $2.3 trillion, or thereabouts. An investment less than that can probably make electricity from sunlight cheaper than electricity from gas; it’s hard to say, but solar power continues to decline in price, and is competitive without subsidy in some parts of the U.S. for meeting peak electrical demand.

    Eventually, fossil fuels will be the most expensive energy, due to high extraction costs (including internalizing all the costs of coal pollution, and including deaths in extraction.) So the real question is how much investment to make in alternatives to speed along the process of making cheaper substitutes.

  55. James Sexton says:

    Jit says:
    November 16, 2011 at 10:35 am

    I’m sure Jon can answer for himself, but to all those who have listed positive contributions of humanity: none of those are ECOLOGICAL benefits.

    Jon says:
    November 16, 2011 at 10:55 am

    uan … those examples you listed are great with repect to the needs of humans but highly detrimental to the natural environment.
    ============================================================

    Uhmm, yes, they are ecological benefits and no, they aren’t highly detrimental to the “natural” environment. The problem you guys are having with this is that you are considering humans as an aberration of nature as opposed to humanity being a part of nature.

  56. Dave Springer says:

    Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, Mr. Bradley.

    We indeed must ween ourselves off of fossil fuel and or become more efficient in usage of same. The price of energy is a major cost component of just about everything. Fossil fuels aren’t getting any cheaper to recover so in the name of productivity gain, which is the only thing that sustains an increasing standard of living, we need to find a less expensive alternative to fossil fuels.

    The grand mistake being made is trying to replace fossil fuels with more expensive alternatives. There’s an incredible amount of energy that arrives daily called sunshine. It’s only a matter of time before it becomes cheaper (FAR cheaper) to harvest than digging fossil fuels out of the ground. Personally I’m betting on synthetic biology which is an infant technology progressing at the rate which semiconductors did in the second half of the 20th century only what can be exploited for practical benefit from synthetic biology is far greater than the information revolution. I’d rank it in world-changing terms right alongside the agricultural revolution that transformed humanity from nomadic hunter-gatherers into farmers and villagers with spare time to discover and perfect things like metallurgy and the written word.

  57. Smokey says:

    Septic Matthew says:

    “The cost of extracting America’s shale gas will be huge; a writer at TheOilDrum estimated $2.3 trillion, or thereabouts.”

    I’m not arguing that the cost of solar isn’t declining. But so what if the cost of fossil fuel is “huge”? If it didn’t provide value it wouldn’t be produced. That $2.3 trillion figure has no context. It’s just intended to be a big, scary, eye-catching number. So let’s put it in human terms.

    Try this experiment: Get in your car, don’t start the engine, put it in neutral, then get out and push your car about twenty miles down the road.

    Then ask yourself: Is a gallon of gas worth $3.50?

  58. Allencic says:

    Clipe,

    Yep, you’ve got the correct link to the William Tucker E=MC2 article

  59. Dave Springer says:

    Jon says:
    November 16, 2011 at 10:55 am

    “those examples you listed are great with repect to the needs of humans but highly detrimental to the natural environment.”

    Excuse me but the Empire State Building is just as natural as a termite mound or a beehive or bird nest. The Hoover Dam is as natural as a beaver dam.

    According to scientific consensus (bible thumpers notwithstanding) humans and human activities are as natural as anything else on this planet. Everything evolved from the same common ancestors.

    Now if humans were alien life forms who invaded this planet then you might have a point but it would be a limited one as we’d still be a natural part of the universe just not a native of this planet.

    If your point is that we have a moral duty to not put our needs ahead of the rest of the living world then I’d tend to agree with you but morality and science are two different things and morality, especially an absolute moral code such as that, would seem to logically require an absolute moral authority which in a word would be God. So by saying we have an obligation to “protect the natural” environment is actually making a case for us being creatures of God with an moral responsibility.

    I bet that isn’t what you meant.

  60. Nick says:

    I’m being forced to pay up front for something that probably won’t happen.

    So will any climate alarmist pay me back, plus interest, the extra costs they have imposed now.

    Don’t forget, I’ve paid up front.

  61. Smokey says:

    Dave Springer,

    The free market will solve the scarcity problem. Always has, always will. The real problem is governments believing they can do it better than the free market. Never have, never will.

  62. J Martin says:

    The New Scientist is also very firmly in the AGW camp. Extremely so.

    I recently filled in a New Scientist questionnaire, and one of the questions was; something along the lines of “do you have any suggestions how we can improve the magazine”; I suggested they remove the word “Scientist” from their magazine’s name as science is not or should not be about simply parroting the utterances of the IPCC and their cronies.

    The problem in the UK is that we still have class influence, and then some. Though this is not necessarily a bad thing. So as Prince Charles is a staunch and vocal AGW supporter, editors of publications will inevitably toe the AGW line. Tea and biscuits at the Palace are important in the UK, who knows, possibly even a title one day.

    Myself, I don’t blame Prince Charles, I was just the same last year. I would visit friends and relatives houses and having looked up how far above sea level they lived would pronounce on my arrival how far underwater their house would be if they didn’t change their ways, or how much their property would increase in value since it would soon have a sea view. I was as brainwashed by the press and the BBC as poor old Prince Charles is now.

    I am, and remain and have always been a staunch royalist. I would sack the UK government if I had a magic wand and hand all power to Queen Elisabeth. I would then immediately take up religion and pray that she survives Charles, and that power then passes to William who’s views on AGW I am unaware of.

  63. Interstellar Bill says:

    Robert Brown
    Considering how even-handed and moderate most of your exposition is,
    you seriously need to delete that absolutely horrid ‘Equity’ section,
    which shows you eagerly swallowing the collectivist premise hook, line, and sinker,
    except that the fishing line drags you to the bottom, not the surface.

    “Who owns, or should own, these resources? ”
    Whoever legally acquired or earned them, such as stockholders.
    Real world to Robert: most of those resources belong to GOVERNMENTS,
    most of whom STOLE them.

    “Various individuals and companies become enormously wealthy from them, and will become still wealthier as they ride the cost-spiral up.”
    GREAT! The more that happens the better off we all are. Do you resent the drill-inventor who rescued the Chilean miners? He could do that because he first invented fracking.

    “Enormously wealthy corporations and individuals represent a huge threat to the civil and political liberties of all humans with far less wealth, as even a cursory glance at history can reveal.” (What a whopper!)

    That cursory glance would assign that threat to BIG GOVERNMENT, which threatens all humans, wealthy or not. Communism and its Evil Twin Naziism killed hundreeds of millions, while Capitalism has saved billions.

    “Wars have been and continue to be fought over them. ”
    Actually, those wars were fought by BIG GOVERNMENTS for their own sake.

    “Politicians are bought and sold because of them.”
    No, they are BRIBED, because of the overweening power of BIG GOVERNMENT. In fact, the politicians act like THEY own us and ALL our money. After all, you don’t buy the Mob when you give them their ‘protection’ money.

    “People are advantaged or disadvantaged, often critically, during the huge fluctuations that have occurred in the supply chain (some of them artificial and INTENDED to frighten people into giving still more power and access to those that control the chain, IMO).”

    Don’t you love that weeny sway of using a noun as a verb, and a totally vague, emotionally weepy one at that. Try slipping ‘downtrodden’ in there somewhere, say behind ‘critically’?.
    Worse yet, this supply-chain fluctuation notion is an obvious mark of complete ignorance of market operations, which in their essence are VOLUNTARY, and thus must profit BOTH sides.

    Even more intolerable is that typical leftist projection, accusing legal corporations of the kind of coercion so typical of governments: “frightening” people into giving up power. Yeah, those multinationals are trying every day to rob me…Oops, sorry. That corporate-looking logo on that demand letter says ‘IRS’.

    Geeese, pal, spare us the socialist cliches, would you. We’re all thinkers here.

    It’s amazing how commonly the left seems to think that their propaganda vocabulary is some kind of stealth persuader that marches into your subconscious and transforms you into one of them. Never mind, Robert, that only works with victims of the dumbing-down schools run by your precious BIG GOVERNMENT.

  64. Gail Combs says:

    Jon says:
    November 16, 2011 at 8:21 am

    “And I remain amazed at how the energy/climate alarmists will not concede (are ‘in denial’) that the human influence on climate can be positive, not only negative, from an ecological and economic perspective.”

    I’d be interested in some “positive” ecological impacts that humans have had on our planet … can you list any?
    _________________________________________
    Of Course.

    The biggest one is the burning of fossil fuels releasing CO2 back into the biosphere. At a CO2 level of around 300ppm the earth was very close to a wipe out of all green plants and the animals that live on them.

    C3 plants have their net Photosynthesis depressed as CO2 concentration in air decreases to less than about 250ppm (McKay et al 1991) This is backed up by greenhouse data showing a drop of 50ppm within minutes of dawn and open field studies of wheat showing a drop to 300ppm at 2 meters above wheat.

    A key piece of evidence that we’re living on a planet with CO2 levels at the very bottom of the normal range is the new group of plants that evolved specifically to cope with low CO2 levels. They developed C4 photosynthesis. It allows greater water efficiency and the ability to photosynthesise in higher temperatures at greatly reduced CO2 levels. An even better adaption is called CAM.

    To put it bluntly if CO2 goes too low trees STARVE. Grasses are a bit hardier and Catus (CAM) the hardiest.

  65. Rosco says:

    Of course there are only positive “natural” ecological benefits – anyone with half a brain can see that – nature is kind and benevolent while man is evil and destructive – NOT.

    Volcanos spewing lava destroying everything in the path – earthquakes destroying landscapes, both natural and manmade – tsunamis destroyng in hours what mankind would take years to destroy – cyclones/hurricanes etc etc.

    It is time people who believe nature is benevolent opened their eyes – mankind has changed the natural environment BUT it takes a civilisation to also preserve it – poor people cannot see past their need for food and energy to consider preservation.

    The most toxic substances are natural – there is no “benevolent” natural state – it is always changing and our scientific advances have uncovered this truth.

  66. Curiousgeorge says:

    @ Dave Springer and others of like mind.

    The environmentalists are coming at this whole “natural” thing from the wrong end of the stick. They are under the impression that “nature” is harmonious, when the fact is that nature is about constant life and death warfare, even in the plant world. Some species win, some lose. Some have evolved alliances for mutual defense, others have evolved high rates of reproduction for defense; others, various poisons, fangs, etc., etc. Humans are no different. Our defense is a large complex brain. One other thing: it’s a mistake to think that humanity is immune from future evolutionary events that may very well challenge our current supremacy.

  67. More Soylent Green! says:

    Septic Matthew says:
    November 16, 2011 at 11:49 am
    Allencic: Alternative energy only makes sense if you truly believe that carbon dioxide is the devil incarnate.

    Alternative energy makes sense if continued investment drives down the cost enough. In Brazil, energy from ethanol is cheaper than energy from gasoline; this resulted from 25 years continuous investment in the technology by the Brazilian government. Eventually (say 20 years) the same will be true of biodiesel vs petrodiesel in the U.S, and probably true of cellulosic ethanol vs gasoline.

    The cost of extracting America’s shale gas will be huge; a writer at TheOilDrum estimated $2.3 trillion, or thereabouts. An investment less than that can probably make electricity from sunlight cheaper than electricity from gas; it’s hard to say, but solar power continues to decline in price, and is competitive without subsidy in some parts of the U.S. for meeting peak electrical demand.

    Eventually, fossil fuels will be the most expensive energy, due to high extraction costs (including internalizing all the costs of coal pollution, and including deaths in extraction.) So the real question is how much investment to make in alternatives to speed along the process of making cheaper substitutes.

    Brazil uses sugar cane and not corn. Big difference in yields. But why is Brazil developing it’s offshore oil resources if it’s biofuels are cheaper?

  68. Dave Springer says:

    Curiousgeorge says:
    November 16, 2011 at 11:38 am

    ” Is this some kind of self-imposed guilt trip for being a successful species?”

    We’re not particularly successful yet. Civilization is just an eyeblink old relative to average span that species persist (about 10M years) and billions of individual human is even more recent. Our own domestic animals both outnumber and outweigh us. About the only metric where we are numero uno is in pavement and a thousand years after we’re gone pretty much every sign we were here will be gone too except for footprints and machinery left on the moon.

  69. timg56 says:

    Re Jon’s

    … those examples you listed are great with repect to the needs of humans but highly detrimental to the natural environment.

    If these are so detrimental, how is it that human population continues to increase? Were our environment truly degrading, it would be evident in falling populations, not rising ones.

    Of course if you are of the belief that humans are a cancer on the planet, then perhaps you have a point. But until you off yourself, you are basically a hypocrite, whether you have a point or not.

  70. Gail Combs says:

    James Sexton says:
    November 16, 2011 at 9:03 am

    Robert, this argument will continue. As RockyRoad points out, the physical limitations and lack of practicality of renewable energy does not dissuade these people. The multiple advantages of cheap, plentiful, and reliable energy means nothing to these people. They are misanthropists. They hide behind issues such as ecology and peak this or that, but, in the end, if the cause advances human suffering and/or death rates, then they are squarely for it.
    ______________________________________
    James, You are only talking about the useful idiots the Economist is aimed at. Rob Potter noted their abrupt turn around. This is when they “scented fresh meat” and realized there was money to be made. You did not think they actually give good “insider” type advice did you?

    Matt Taibbi in his article –
    “The Great American Bubble Machine
    From tech stocks to high gas prices, Goldman Sachs has engineered every major market manipulation since the Great Depression — and they’re about to do it again…”
    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-great-american-bubble-machine-20100405

    -at least has the general idea correct. The bankers/financiers are one hundred and ten percent behind creating new bubbles. “Renewable energy” and “carbon trading” are the newest device for shearing the sheep.

    Heck there is even this old article from International Business Law Advisor:

    Are Carbon Credits the New Global Currency?
    By Santiago A. Cueto on December 17th, 2009 Posted in International Banking

    In response to the Copenhagen Climate Summit’s call for innovative environmental solutions, my law firm launched a groundbreaking program today to allow law firm clients to pay legal fees with carbon credits. The initiative is the first of its kind in the professional services industry. You can read more about my firm’s initiative in the Wall Street Journal article Will Work For Carbon Credits!’ says Florida Lawyer …. http://www.internationalbusinesslawadvisor.com/2009/12/articles/international-banking/are-carbon-credits-the-new-global-currency/

    Another one from 2010:
    Carbon credits to replace US $ as global currency: http://www.commodityonline.com/news/Carbon-credits-to-replace-US-$-as-global-currency-25893-3-1.html
    “SCOTLAND (Commodity Online):Till now the question was whether a group of currencies would replace the dollar or even gold? Now, here comes the prediction amidst global warming and cllimate change concerns that Carbon Credit will replace the US dollar as the currency of international trading within five years….”

    The Economist is still on the bandwagon because CAGW is just too big a money maker to allow us “Deniers” to kill it. Truth of course never had a place in the business of making money. Just ask a used car salesman, a horse trader or a banker.

  71. Roger Knights says:

    Jon says:
    November 16, 2011 at 10:55 am
    uan … those examples you listed are great with repect to the needs of humans but highly detrimental to the natural environment.

    Paved roads are better than dirt roads, because erosion doesn’t drag silt into streams where it’s bad for spawning salmon, etc. Logging roads in mountainous areas benefit from being graveled or paved.

  72. Robert Brown says:

    “I’m not arguing that the cost of solar isn’t declining. But so what if the cost of fossil fuel is “huge”? If it didn’t provide value it wouldn’t be produced. That $2.3 trillion figure has no context. It’s just intended to be a big, scary, eye-catching number. So let’s put it in human terms.”

    It’s a scary, eye-catching number because in a reasoned debate about economics, we have to consider the alternative value of that investment, not just pretend that there is no alternative or that some of the MANY alternatives might be better. For example, dropping the same $2.3 trillion directly into solar power would buy an easy 2.3 terawatts of generating capacity. More likely, it would drop the cost of solar power from ~$1/watt to $0.20/watt or even less as people built a hundred billion dollars worth of foundries to service it, leverage that much more money out of private investors because of the long term prospect of steady reliable ROI independent on who happens to be running Libya, whether or not fracking really does cause massive earthquakes and releases Godzilla from his tomb, and everything else. That is one could more likely build 10 TW of capacity, and even if one multiplies that down by 1/6 to 1/3, that’s a whole lot of power. That’s getting close to the capacity to use the daytime leftovers to MAKE gasoline out of raw materials — all it takes is energy and chemistry and you can make just about anything. It’s also enough money to easily fund serious, serious work on energy storage, developing ways to collect in the day and distribute at night.

    But that’s not all. $2.3 trillion invested in e.g. Thorium plants and metal — that’s a hell of a lot of capacity as well, and thorium can’t be used to make bombs, at least not at all easily. Some proposed plant designs are also more or less melt-down proof (or at least far less risky than uranium or plutonium in that regard). $2.3 trillion invested in developing fusion in a Manhattan-like project atmosphere, money is no object. Risky (might not be possible, might not be easy, might not end up being feasible) but oh my, the payoff. Energy so cheap it is nearly free for the next fifty million years, or thereabouts. Humans wouldn’t be recognizably human before D_2 even thinks of being used up, we will have EVOLVED. $2.3 trillion spent simply converting arable land into genetically engineered bioenergy crops and converting everything to run on ethanol — don’t have a good feel for this one, but its name should be in the hat for a serious CBA.

    That’s the point — the Cost Benefit Analysis. For example, if we had spent the estimated $1.5 trillion that Iraq ultimately cost us — or even a third of that — directly on solar plants using the cheapest technology of the year amortized over ten years — $150 billion a year — we would at this point have WON ALL WARS in the Middle East because we would no longer care outside of humanitarian issues, and all of the corrupt governments that suck at the teat of oil would be done, gone, thrown out by people who suddenly would NEED the West and commerce and civilization to generate wealth, not by renting us room on their deserts but by building something useful.

    The truly sad thing is that China seems to have “got it”. They aren’t stupid. They simply look ahead at the futures market for energy, see a day when oil collapses, and invest enormous amounts of money in — solar, thorium, less in bioenergy, probably a fair bit into fusion (still risky compared to the others)…

    So yeah. We’ll soon be buying Chinese solar cells instead of making our own, wondering why Chinese products are now MUCH cheaper and better than our own (built with thorium and solar energy at a vastly reduced cost per watt) and driving cars powered by gasoline that we increasingly cannot afford while the oil cartels continue to effectively influence American politics to preserve their wealth and power by buying politicians in an increasingly deregulated elections process that they control, until the whole thing crashes down.

    That’s not to suggest that developing shale oil is NOT a good investment. The point is that it is far from obvious that it is, and IMO it is not. It is on a spiral of increasing costs and diminishing returns, while solar is barely entering the domain where economies of scale kick in and costs spiral DOWN and returns INCREASE, with decades of pure profit progress ahead before any of the core technologies stop continuing to improve and lower prices and increase yields.

    Note that I mean “not a good investment” because people who overinvest could GO BROKE with it if the bottom falls out of the oil market in the next decade as alternative energy sources come online in a big way. Suppose somebody DID invent cheap easy fusion, say, tomorrow. Scary thought, really. Even as it revolutionizes modern civilization, it could trigger world war three as a few trillion dollars of presumed high demand “value” in oil, coal, natural gas turns into a few billion dollars of low demand value, all over the world.

    rgb

  73. John says:

    To DirkH (10:24) who says:

    “This also explains why environmental pressure groups never actually try to save animals or plants but only travel around protesting.”

    Virtually everything Conservation International and Ocean Conservancy do is aimed at saving animals and plants. Coral reefs that had been barren of fish due to overfishing now have large numbers of fish, once again, due to the Ocean Conservancy, for instance. OC did the science, found that if you prevent fishing in one part of the reef (the part where currents flow to the other parts), the fish grow large and spawn, and provide the other parts of the reef with abundant fish. You just have to keep one part of the reef from being fished, to provide fish elsewhere.

    Don’t confuse the “mainstream” environmental groups like Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Friends of the Earth, and Greenpeace — groups which push a utopian but ultimately harmful agenda — with other groups who do remarkable good work restoring the ecosystems whose dimunition Jon (and I) lament.

  74. Curiousgeorge says:

    @ Dave Springer says:
    November 16, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    No argument from me on that. :) But I fully intend to continue to enjoy our current position at the top of the food chain while it lasts. :)

  75. Septic Matthew says:

    More Soylent Green! Brazil uses sugar cane and not corn. Big difference in yields. But why is Brazil developing it’s offshore oil resources if it’s biofuels are cheaper?

    a. That’s why I did not write anything about American corn ethanol, but about cellulosic ethanol.

    b. They want more total fuel than can be supplied by ethanol. They import oil, and they want to reduce their imports.

    This year Brazilian sugar-based ethanol production is down and they are importing ethanol from the U.S. That’s probably just a transient.

  76. Jeremy says:

    The Economist is controlled by Rothchilds. It has a CAGW agenda and is grossly biased and distorted. The Rothschilds also control the Weather Channel. Readers need to be aware that they are NOT reading a news magazine but the Rothschild’s “pravda” agency newsletter.

  77. philincalifornia says:

    Septic Matthew says:
    November 16, 2011 at 2:03 pm
    This year Brazilian sugar-based ethanol production is down and they are importing ethanol from the U.S. That’s probably just a transient.
    ===============================================

    …. and curiously, also exporting it to the US !!

    http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-11-07/brazil-lacks-cane-to-boost-fuel-exports-senator-says.html

    Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing, only a signal shown, and a distant voice in the darkness; So on the ocean of life, we pass and speak one another, only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence.

    Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

  78. Septic Matthew says:

    Smokey: I’m not arguing that the cost of solar isn’t declining. But so what if the cost of fossil fuel is “huge”? If it didn’t provide value it wouldn’t be produced. That $2.3 trillion figure has no context. It’s just intended to be a big, scary, eye-catching number. So let’s put it in human terms.

    My point was that alternative fuel development is worthwhile because the alternatives will eventually be cheaper than the fossil fuels. The writer I responded to claimed that they were worth nothing without the CO2 scare. I think he is wrong. In no place did I write that fossil fuels were not worth anything. The time is approaching when $2.3 trillion worth of pv cells will generate more electricity than $2.3 trillion worth of gas will generate; the time is approaching when $3.50 worth of pv cells will generate more travel than $3.50 worth of gasoline (unless alternatives are produced sufficient quantities to reduce demand for oil, which I don’t expect but which might be possible); not real soon, but maybe within 20 years. The only real question is what is the best rate of investment in the alternatives?

  79. Robert Brown says:

    “Who owns, or should own, these resources? ”
    Whoever legally acquired or earned them, such as stockholders.
    Real world to Robert: most of those resources belong to GOVERNMENTS,
    most of whom STOLE them.”

    Ah, so another mind reader. You presume that I meant that we should nationalize all of the resources. You also presume that it is now, or was ever possible, to truly “legally acquire” resources. For example, take the United States, most of which was “legally acquired” by virtue of kicking the inhabitants out, not even as an act of government but one theft or settlement at a time. Not that I regret this, I’m just pointing out that the issue of ownership is an important one. Most of our current laws regulating this sort of thing were predicated upon “frontier Earth”, inexhaustible, always another mine to dig, another well to drill. Well, that’s just silly. We know better. Not happening.

    Given that, I’d suggest that you read “The Tragedy of the Commons” by Garrett Hardin. Then return to the discussion.

    Personally, I think human ethics is a human invention because I’m not religious and don’t think God endorses “ownership” of something like the earth. Hell, my own body is at best borrowed, mine for a time before it gets eaten by worms. Half the wars on this planet have happened because people have a truly skewed notion of both ownership and the commons — the one to be defended against all sense, the other to be exploited as long as one gains advantage over everybody else by doing so.

    In a universe of FINITE resources — very finite ones, not a frontier at all — the ethics of ownership and management of the commons has to change. At the moment life is good (in the US) because we have a low population — still, but probably not for long — and still have some frontier to exploit. But try to find gold in NC at this point. For most of the history of the US we were one of the biggest gold producers. Gold has gotten so expensive that people are once again invading the commons here to pan for gold, destroying stream ecologies to do so. California is still paying the ecological price for its gold rush — truly enormous amounts of mercury lie buried in the silt of many of its rivers.

    My point isn’t to assert one thing or another, it is to note that the issue is complex, and that a lot of the land to be drilled, mined, explored is in the commons, owned by the government not because it “stole” it, but because it more or less inherited from our thieving ancestors that stole it from other thieves and so on, bad ad infinitum. It’s as silly as the “Who owns the Falkland Islands” debate. Ultimately, the owners are the ones with the bigger guns, because NOBODY >>really<< owns them. They're frigging islands. How can you own an island? At best you have a transient custody in a chain of such custody of greater or lesser merit, custody supported by common custom and the myth of ownership.

    I love myths. The myth of life, liberty, pursuit of happiness is a lovely myth, a noble myth. Living in a society where we collectively agree to embrace the myth is simply grand and a very advantageous thing. But of course it is perfectly obvious that Hobbes was more right than Locke or Jefferson: life in a state of nature is ugly, nasty, brutish and short and we ALWAYS live in a state of nature, protected from one another only by those myths.

    "That cursory glance would assign that threat to BIG GOVERNMENT, which threatens all humans, wealthy or not. Communism and its Evil Twin Naziism killed hundreeds of millions, while Capitalism has saved billions."

    Or, capitalism has helped kill hundreds of millions all by itself. Who supported Hitler in his rise to power? Why, big companies! Could he have managed to do what he did without them? Of course not. Who did he fight — and lose to? Communists, every bit as much as us. Don't get me wrong — I think that Communism is moderately stupid — it is yet another mythology, the notion that optimal economics and social order is SIMPLE. I also think that unrestrained Capitalism is moderately stupid. Obviously you've missed out on most of the economic history of the United States, so things like depressions and the company store and the negative consequences of supermonopolies on things like human freedom escape you, but do try to bear in mind that sufficiently large corporate structures become shadow governments in their own right. Power goes with money, and power AND money's first duty to itself is to defend itself at all costs. Without a strong government to keep the "capitalism" playing field level and the most powerful players in check, we'd have, well, we'd have the Fed.

    Gee, somehow Big Government in the US seems to actually be RUN by those same Capitalists you admire so much.

    I grew up loving Ayn Rand as much as you obviously do, but it is worth remembering that Ayn Rand — after smoking 2 packs a day for most of her life — relied on social security and medicare when sure, she got cancer and would have had to spend herself down to poverty to get treatment otherwise. It's easy to argue against the need for a social network — nobody likes paying for anything they don't need — until they need it, when SUDDENLY it makes sense.

    But this is a distraction, as you note. The point is that even under Adam Smith's mythical (and hence damn skippy invisible) hand, you can argue all you want about how "good" or "bad" solar cells are and how great it is to pay lots of money for gasoline and drill and frack and fight wars to ensure our continued access to it, ideally access to the stores in other people's countries where we can buy it from corrupt governments on the cheap. That won't stop solar — with or without any more subsidies than the SUBSTANTIAL subsidies the oil industry has received (fighting a friggin' war in Iraq, for gosh sake) from being cheaper over the counter energy right now than oil is, joule for joule. The only thing slowing it down is the lack of CAPITAL in the US right now — it's break even for me to solar-electrify my own house, or very close to it (with subsidies) but the capital costs are high with a 15 year payoff to reach a 30 year ROI. With bank in a bank worth less than 1%, it's actually attractive but that doesn't alter the fact that you need $25-50K to buy in.

    In the southwest, energy prices and relatively high insolation make it a very attractive investment WITHOUT carbon credits and so on. Subsidies make it more so, and encourage the building of better foundries that will lower the price and accelerate the rate at which it becomes profitable. This in turn increases the wealth of everybody — everybody benefits from cheaper energy. Well, everybody but the people that sell more expensive energy…

    Our biggest mistake was in not putting more public money and energy into solar 30 years ago. At this point the issue is nearly moot — after being delayed by 20 pointlessly expensive years and several wars whose real reason was to preserve access to oil and a military presence in an oil rich region to defend it, it's probably unstoppable at this point. Not that the Republicans and their friends in the oil industries won't try, but at this point it will be very tough.

    rgb

  80. Spector says:

    It would seem that the concept that the Earth has a limited stored carbon resource of which we have already used a major portion and the belief that man will irreparably damage the climate with excess carbon dioxide are two inimical views. If there exists an inexhaustible supply of non-oxidized carbon yet to be found somewhere, then there is a possibility that we might double the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere enough times to cause a real problem.

    So far, we have only seen the amount of CO2 increase by a factor equivalent to the square root of two, or a half-doubling. Some petroleum technologists are saying that we will have consumed half the available supply in this century. David Archibald has presented a plot that says the maximum, resource-limited CO2 concentration in the atmosphere will be on the order of 522 ppm in 2130. That is 38 PPM short of 560 PPM, a full doubling from the nominal pre-industrial level of 280 PPM.

    http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/image4.png

    MODTRAN, available as a web utility hosted by the University of Chicago, seems to indicate that this ‘huge’ change in the CO2 content in the atmosphere will require a one degree increase in surface temperature to make up for the *raw* doubling of the CO2 in the atmosphere. From a plot showing the difference in ‘radiative forcing’ at 20 km up, it is hard to see the difference between the blue 600 PPM curve and the green 300 PPM curve hidden behind. One can see a CO2 hole at 667 kayzers (cycles per centimeter, CM-1) and a minimal ozone hole at 1111 kayzers but curiously no ‘holes’ due to H2O, the primary greenhouse gas in the lower troposphere.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:ModtranRadiativeForcingDoubleCO2.png

  81. Robert Brown says:

    Hear, hear, Septic Matthew! So very sanely put. What’s the net present value of (say) a 20 year reduction in the time until alternative energy resources and technologies pass the upward spiralling oil prices. Because who really thinks that gas prices are going to stay at ONLY $3.50? Or go back to $0.25/gallon or some pre-historic price like that? Note well, there has been rather low inflation during most of the last decade — gas price increases have been real increases, not just riding inflation. If anything, they are causing it.

    rgb

  82. Interstellar Bill says:

    Robert Brown
    Considering how even-handed and moderate most of your exposition is,
    you seriously need to delete that absolutely horrid ‘Equity’ section,
    which shows you eagerly swallowing the collectivist worldview hook, line, and sinker,
    except that the metaphorical fishing line drags you to the bottom, not the surface.

    “Who owns, or should own, these resources?”
    Whoever legally acquired or earned them, such as stockholders.
    Real world to Robert: most of those resources belong to GOVERNMENTS,
    most of whom STOLE them.

    “Various individuals and companies become enormously wealthy from them, and will become still wealthier as they ride the cost-spiral up.”
    GREAT! The more that happens the better off we all are. Do you resent the drill-inventor who rescued the Chilean miners? He could do that because he first invented fracking.

    “Enormously wealthy corporations and individuals represent a huge threat to the civil and political liberties of all humans with far less wealth, as even a cursory glance at history can reveal.” (What a whopper!)

    That cursory glance would assign that threat to BIG GOVERNMENT, which threatens all humans, wealthy or not. Communism and its Evil Twin Naziism killed hundreds of millions, while Capitalism has saved billions from poverty, Big Government’s offspring..

    “Wars have been and continue to be fought over them. ”
    Actually, those wars were fought by and for BIG GOVERNMENTS, for their own sake.

    “Politicians are bought and sold because of them.”
    No, they are BRIBED, because of the overweening power of BIG GOVERNMENT. In fact, the politicians act like they own us and ALL our money. You don’t buy the Mob when you give them their ‘protection’ money.

    “People are advantaged or disadvantaged, often critically, during the huge fluctuations that have occurred in the supply chain (some of them artificial and INTENDED to frighten people into giving still more power and access to those that control the chain, IMO).”

    Don’t you love that weeny sway of using a noun as a verb, and a totally vague, emotionally weepy one at that. Try slipping ‘downtrodden’ in there somewhere, say behind ‘critically’?.
    Worse, yet, this supply-chain fluctuation notion is an obvious mark of complete ignorance of market operations, which in their essence are VOLUNTARY, and thus must profit BOTH sides.

    Worse yet is the typical leftist projection, accusing legal corporations of the kind of coercion so typical of governments: “frightening” people into giving up power. Yeah, those multinationals are trying every day to rob me…Oops, sorry. That corporate-looking logo on that demand letter says ‘IRS’.

    Zheeese, pal, spare us the socialist cliches, would you? There be thinkers here.

  83. Ursus Augustus says:

    Following on from Allencic’s (first) post , if solar is 1/10 as energy dense as coal, and is intermittent to boot ( as is wind and waves) then we can reasonably expect to have to expend about 10 times as much capital in order to capture the same quantum of energy. Do we really want to distort our economies by that degree? When you start to quantify the investment required, where on earth is the money going to come from and what on earth is going to have to be forgone? And then think of the effect on the developing world. About as helpful to humanity as an asteroid strike, methinks. When will these innumerate green loonies take a reality check?

  84. “Ecologists see ANY human interference as bad”

    People here are understandably p*ssed off with the warmist save-the-planet Greenies, so am I. Yet I am a greenie too, so are many others here. Ecologists do not see all human interference as bad. The greenie problem is a scientific infantilism that wants to believe IPCC without being prepared to listen to us, check the science themselves, or consider the possibility of rank corruption in high places. I’ve tried with Transition Towns, Schumacher College, and Scientists For Global Responsibility, and have failed so far to move them an inch. I am, sadly, disgusted. Peter Taylor is a rare exception.

    However, there are many places where humans have made a generally positive difference… The most interesting factors are EDGE habitats, which we humans are pretty good at creating eg hedgerows; an INCREASED overall diversity of habitat – gardens, fields, tomatoes in greenhouses with CO2 pumped in, etc; EXPERIMENTAL work in straight science, biodynamic farming, permaculture etc; and DEEP ECOLOGY which includes the development of shamanic types of collaboration with nature. Some we gain by, and some we lose. Our inner attitudes play a huge role and we can work on those ourselves. Romanticism (incl Thoreau, Emerson, Whitman) arose in the nineteenth century in response to the drab face of industrialism; the one simply helped to balance / cope with the other, and the rise in population was crude proof that everyone had benefited. Only a small minority (the luddites) actually suggested we should destroy the machines.

  85. G. Karst says:

    Henry Phipps:
    clipe:

    Thanks, I see now, I was operating from an improper mind-set. GK

  86. Philip Bradley says:

    If given a choice between clean power and dirty power, who wouldn’t want clean power?

    Characterizing things as clean or dirty, is reducing debate to the level of the kindergarten.

    “Don’t touch that. It’s dirty.”

    Some of us understand that all of our food comes from dirt. Characterizing power as to whether its source is ‘clean’ or ‘dirty’ makes as much sense as characterizing food as coming from a ‘clean’ or ‘dirty’ source.

  87. Spector says:

    RE: Septic Matthew: (November 16, 2011 at 2:23 pm)
    “My point was that alternative fuel development is worthwhile because the alternatives will eventually be cheaper than the fossil fuels.”

    Kirk Sorensen appears to be telling the Green Earth people that his LFTR (Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors) will make energy so inexpensive as to allow the manufacture of alternative transportation fuels such as methanol, dimethyl ether, and ammonia at less cost than traditional ‘fossil ‘ fuels. As far as I know, thorium is the only potential energy source that is *known* to be so abundant that it might sustain and support our current energy use beyond the projected life of the planet.

  88. Gail Combs says: November 16, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    …The Economist is still on the bandwagon because CAGW is just too big a money maker to allow us “Deniers” to kill it. Truth of course never had a place in the business of making money.

    That says it all.

    People have been glamorized, hypnotized and paralysed by the brilliant, smoothfaced “blitzkrieg” invention of the IPCC with its multiple denial of true science even while usurping that name:

    * it crosses the divide from “fun” science into science with expensive and dangerous consequences, without instituting requisite engineering standards
    * being accountable to none, the “fun” scientific standards which it claims to raise are actually lowered
    * it’s a financial-political wolf disguised as Grandmother Science, since it starts with the “Summary for Policymakers” and shoehorns the science into a prearranged result with the help of models’ “data” and everything Climategate exposed
    * it is supported with crooked thinkers and pickpockets in high places, like Bob Ward at the Royal Society, William Connolley at Wikipedia, the desmogblog and RC providers, Rothschilds behind The Economist, etc.

  89. Smokey says:

    Robert Brown says:

    “What’s the net present value of (say) a 20 year reduction in the time until alternative energy resources and technologies pass the upward spiralling oil prices. Because who really thinks that gas prices are going to stay at ONLY $3.50?…gas price increases have been real increases, not just riding inflation. If anything, they are causing it.”

    Two points: first, the supply of petroleum products is artificially limited by government decree. If companies were free to explore and drill for oil, it would be abundant and the price would substantially decline. The reliability and energy density of fossil fuels makes them far superior to alternatives such as solar, and especially, windmills.

    Right now Mexico, China, Cuba and Canada are drilling not many miles off the U.S. coast. We have no control over, or recourse if there is a spill. We get all of the problems and none of the benefits due to Obama’s job killing drilling ban. There is no credible or rational reason that companies should be banned from drilling.

    Second point: inflation is caused by artificially increasing the money supply. Yes, there is demand/pull and cost/push inflation, but the basic cause is printing money. However, the primary reason for high gas prices is the strict limiting of supply by the government.

    Finally, I personally dislike the word “capitalism”. It is a Karl Marx word that incites class warfare. The actual benefits to society come from the free market. Regulation is necessary to make a level playing field and set reasonable standards, and courts are necessary to adjudicate disputes and punish fraud. Other than that, the less government interference, the more wealthy the entire society becomes. The richest countries are the most pollution free; the direct result of the free market in operation.

  90. DirkH says:

    Lucy Skywalker says:
    November 16, 2011 at 3:00 pm
    “farming, permaculture etc; and DEEP ECOLOGY which includes the development of shamanic types of collaboration with nature. ”

    Deep Ecology Linkola style?
    http://www.prisonplanet.com/global-warming-alarmist-calls-for-eco-gulags-to-re-educate-climate-deniers.html
    Or his apprentice Satu Hassi?
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satu_Hassi
    (currently member of the European Parliament)

  91. Septic Matthew says:

    Robert Brown: Hear, hear, Septic Matthew! So very sanely put. What’s the net present value of (say) a 20 year reduction in the time until alternative energy resources and technologies pass the upward spiralling oil prices. Because who really thinks that gas prices are going to stay at ONLY $3.50? Or go back to $0.25/gallon or some pre-historic price like that? Note well, there has been rather low inflation during most of the last decade — gas price increases have been real increases, not just riding inflation. If anything, they are causing it.

    I can’t tell whether you are serious or sarcastic. You put in questions where it might have been better to put in short bullets.

    Philip Bradley: Characterizing power as to whether its source is ‘clean’ or ‘dirty’ makes as much sense as characterizing food as coming from a ‘clean’ or ‘dirty’ source.

    With energy, the important distinction devolves on how much damage is done, and how many people and agricultural produce, killed by the extraction and pollution. Uranium and mercury pollution from coal kill people. It isn’t a negligible consideration, though we can’t tell exactly how many or who they are.

  92. Power Engineer says:

    Many of the comments supporting renewables assume that that oil is used for electricity generation and that renewables will displace oil. I don’t know the situation in the UK but in the States less than 1% of electricity generation comes from oil and in New England it is less than 0.4%. And the winning form of generation is natural gas which is plentiful, has relatively low emissions including CO2, and is cheap (fuel cost is about 3 cents per kWh in modern combined cycle plants).

    In comparison wind including transmission costs from 15 to 30 cents per kWh and this saves 3 cents per kWh worth of natural gas (I ignore the additional 3 dents /kWh to build and run the GTCC as it is required anyway to back up the renewable resource). Solar PV costs presently about 70 cents/kWH in New England and again this saves 3 cents per kWh of natural gas— a 23:1 cost disadvantage.

    If you look at the cost per ton of CO2 removed, renewables are also outrageously expensive.: Wind studies for New England show CO2 removal costs to be $300-450 per ton or about 10 times the expected CO2 price and about 20-30 times the cost claimed by the Waxman-Markey proponents. Most studies don’t calculate the cost of CO2 removal, but it is easy to do yourself.

    In New England studies show that CO2 removal can be achieved at one tenth the cost of wind, by simply retiring old inefficient units. I suspect the same situation exists in many other places.

    With the US emitting 7 billion tons of CO2 per year, a cost of $100/ton equates to a total cost of $700 B per year or a subprime crisis hit to the economy every year. The cost of the most efficient CO2 removal solution may be unbearable. The many times greater cost of renewables will certainly be.

  93. DCC says:

    I LOVED the comment by the guy who said Bradley was obviously a religious fundamentalist who believed that God would solve all of our problems! With CAGW supporters who are that brilliant, we can’t possibly win the debate.

  94. DirkH says: November 16, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    Lucy Skywalker says: “… DEEP ECOLOGY which includes the development of shamanic types of collaboration with nature. ”

    Deep Ecology Linkola style?

    Ye gods, no. I did start by stating clearly the greenies’ rubbishy side, their infantile attitude to science, angers and upsets me as much as everyone here. My post was a plea to not overgeneralize. Deep Ecology per se need have nothing to do with espousing cr*p science. The fact that currently it often does, simply makes me either stay away or try to bring greenies to their senses. But I will not throw the baby out with the horrible bathwater it’s currently immersed in.

    Hope this answers your concern.

  95. Mr Lynn says:

    CO2 is good for plants, good for the Earth, and good for you!

    I voted No.

    /Mr Lynn

  96. Allen says:

    The zealots are all for flagellation as long as it isn’t SELF-flagellation. Their deeds do not match their words. That is all you need to know about the zealots to pronounce judgement on them.

  97. Dave Wendt says:

    here’s further evidence of the improving economics of renewable energy, but it only works if you’re a major contributor to Democrat campaign coffers

    http://biggovernment.com/whall/2011/11/16/robert-kennedy-jr-s-green-company-scored-1-4-billion-taxpayer-bailout/

    “The details of how BrightSource managed to land its ten-figure taxpayer bailout have yet to emerge fully. However, one clue might be found in the person of Sanjay Wagle.
    Wagle was one of the principals in Kennedy’s firm who raised money for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. When Obama won the White House, Wagle was installed at the Department of Energy (DOE), advising on energy grants….

    Ironically, in 2008, Kennedy wrote a CNN article praising Obama as reminiscent of his famous father and uncle. The article, titled “Obama’s Energy Plan Would Create a Green Gold Rush,” proved prophetic. However, the “green gold rush” came in the form of $1.4 billion of taxpayers’ money flowing into the pet projects of rich venture capital investors like Kennedy, not average citizens.”

  98. Jim Masterson says:

    >>
    Petrossa says:
    November 16, 2011 at 9:22 am

    I love the phrase ‘renewable energy’.
    <<

    Thanks for pointing it out–another oxymoron to add to my list.

    Jim

  99. Septic Matthew says:

    Petrossa: I love the phrase ‘renewable energy’.

    It’s no worse than “hot dog” or innumerable other examples. The technologies listed will produce fuel and electricity as long as the sun shines.

  100. Smokey says:

    “…as long as the sun shines.”

    That’s the problem. Isn’t it?

  101. Mariss says:

    Jon doesn’t realize environmentalism is an esthetic perspective. There is no difference between environmentalism and my preference for Mozart over Lady Gaga. Jon might also want to ponder how anything we as humans do be considered as harmful to Gaia being as we are a product of the same Nature that created cute fuzzy polar bears. Jon’s esthetic sense is dark and nihilistic; he sees humans as being separate from our natural environment, harmful and at odds with it. This self-loathing makes no sense to me yet it is emblematic of the Green philosophy poisoning our civilization.

  102. Smokey says:

    The NO votes have pulled ahead! Now it’s 51/49 “No”.☺

  103. Alex Heyworth says:

    I voted “No”. One thing that was perhaps overlooked in the debate (I confess to not reading all of it, only the closing statements and some of the comments) was the issue of scale – that is, the huge (almost unimaginable) scale on which “renewable” energy sources would have to be built to supply our current and future energy needs. This was admirably covered in David McKay’s excellent Sustainable Energy: without the Hot Air. (http://www.withouthotair.com/)

    The scale argument alone is enough to put solar, wind and tidal energy out of contention as anything more than bit players, IMO.

  104. LazyTeenager says:

    “This house believes that subsidising renewable energy is a good way to wean the world off fossil fuels.”
    ———-
    So to cut matters short Robert Bradley agrees to debate this question but then instead tries to debate some whole bunch of other questions.

    And then tries to game the system with support from the WUWT readers.

  105. Smokey says:

    Someone please hand Lazy a hanky.

    LT, in case you haven’t noticed, the tide is turning. Even at the alarmist Economist the CAGW narrative is failing.

  106. Spector says:

    RE: LazyTeenager: (November 16, 2011 at 8:03 pm)
    “This house believes that subsidising renewable energy is a good way to wean the world off fossil fuels.”

    I expect this “weaning process” involves a staged population reduction to 19th century levels and a return to the minimal environmental impact of a Jane Austin period lifestyle.

  107. Mac the Knife says:

    Dave Springer says:
    November 16, 2011 at 1:01 pm
    Curiousgeorge says:
    November 16, 2011 at 11:38 am
    ” Is this some kind of self-imposed guilt trip for being a successful species?”
    “We’re not particularly successful yet. ………About the only metric where we are numero uno is in pavement and a thousand years after we’re gone pretty much every sign we were here will be gone too except for footprints and machinery left on the moon.”

    Why the negative ‘waves’, Dave? Your comment even sounds kinda like a guilt trip…….
    There are +2000 year old roman roads, viaducts, and coliseums strewn across Europe. OK. That’s 2 eye blinks. And I choose to believe that the lunar rover, footprints, LEMs, and flags on the moon will someday be added as US National Historic Parks! That is, if we can restore the economic and national vigor to the US of A! Let’s start with the least expensive forms of energy available and get this wonderfully inventive industrial machine rolling again!
    We don’t need no negative waves, Dave!

    OddBall – ‘Negative Waves’, Kelly’s Heros

  108. Gail Combs says:

    As a chemist I am in favor of not using hydrocarbons for producing electricity if there are better alternatives. The stuff is too useful for things like plastic.

    Hydro is probably the best alternativebut the possibilities in the USA are exhausted or “Protected”

    Windmills aka bird and bat shredders cost more in energy to manufacture than they will probably produce. http://www.windpowerfraud.com/

    Solar Panels: The first problem of course is they only work during the day and therefore need some sort of storage (battery). However there is another problem everyone over looks and that is the fact that solar panels have to be manufactured and use things like copper, indium, gallium, selenide, or Cadmium Telluride. The rare earths have to be mined and currently the main supplier is China who is limiting the supply. So you are still stuck with a “Finite supply” problem as well as the importing problem. (Tellurium is one of the rarest minerals found in the earth’s crust.) On top of that Cadmium Telluride is a carcinogen ( http://www.osha.gov/dep/greenjobs/index.html) and Cadmium is highly toxic and a carcinogen.

    Biofuel might be useful for supplementing vehicle fuel but I rather see it as compost for growing crops. (use the methane?)

    So unless Andrea Rossi’s E-Cat is for real, we are left with Nuclear as a large scale energy producer. And if we are going to go nuclear investing in a good thorium nuclear design only makes sense. That is why India, Russia, the USA and China are all working on Thorium and the UK was considering it.

    Is Thorium the Nuclear Fuel of the Future?
    Mon, August 09, 2010

    The Kalpakkam fast breeder reactor, near Tamil Nadu, India, is well on its way to completion by 2012. Once complete, it will usher in the second phase of India’s three-stage plan to achieve thorium-based energy independence by 2025….

    …there’s one design that we’d surely include in a possible follow-up article (look for it sometime in 2015): By that point, it’s likely that someone will have submitted a credible design to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a thorium reactor. That’s because the United States, India, Japan, and Russia (PDF) are among the countries now working on thorium reactors…..

    And in fact, several countries are investigating the possibility of thorium-based energy generation: India’s working on an Advanced Heavy Water Reactor, Japan has the miniFuji, Russia is working on the VVER-1000 and even the United States has long term plans to experiment with commercial energy generation by thorium. Most of these plans are nebulous, but for some it’s a serious option. The country with the most specific plan is India, which has drawn up a three-stage process to rely almost entirely on thorium by 2030.

    When IEEE Spectrum interviewed thorium reactor designer Ratan Kumar Sinha …

    http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/energy/nuclear/is-thorium-the-nuclear-fuel-of-the-future

    (Updated 11 November 2011) World Nuclear Assoc. http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf62.html

    Thorium in the USA (September 23, 2011) http://www.investmentu.com/2011/September/thorium-the-future-of-nuclear-power.html

    Even the Guardian UK has a neutral to positive article on thorium (1 November 2011) http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/nov/01/what-is-thorium-nuclear-power?INTCMP=SRCH

  109. Mac the Knife says:

    LazyTeenager says:
    November 16, 2011 at 8:03 pm
    “And then tries to game the system with support from the WUWT readers.”

    I came. I read. I voted. What’s your beef, Lazynager?
    They asked us to read, comprehend, and participate in their on-line, non-scientific poll. It’s similar to the UNIPCC reports, except only an ‘select group’ was invited to vote in that non-scientific poll! The Economist’s poll was at least openly offered and honestly responded to.

    Aw, just forget it. You will never learn. Besides, it’s time to throw a big oak knot on the fire in the wood stove (it’s below normal cold here, as most of the year has been) and get to bed.
    ‘To sleep, perchance to dream… ‘

  110. Wayne Delbeke says:

    For Robert Brown

    When I built my new farm house in central Alberta 8 years ago, I considered solar panel power as an option in addition to thick double insulated walls and a geothermal water to water heat exchanger. I priced out solar photovoltaics with consideration of the need for storage at night and during blizzards and consulted with a relative who provides solar systems for locations remote from power lines. I live 110 km from the nearest city but only a few metres from a power line serving oil wells in the area. All in, the cost of PV’s inverter and batteries and housing was in the 6 figures. It would NEVER pay for itself. In fact, it would never pay for the interest on the capital. Not in this location with low winter light and 40 below temperatures. The interest on the capital would be more than the annual cost of electricity from the grid. The decision was simple. Maybe prices have dropped dramatically in the last 8 years, but I doubt they have dropped that much. Maybe if one had different well pumps, different refrigeration and different appliances and LED lighting it could be made to work, but not in a conventional house that you might want to sell someday. Perhaps it could work in the southern US, but not in this climate where snow often makes my existing PV panels inoperative.
    ( I have several PV systems around the farm for aeration, pumping and fencing applications. )
    (And I just checked module prices on the Internet – it’s still a 6 figure project.)

  111. Gail Combs says:

    Philip Bradley says:
    November 16, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    …..Some of us understand that all of our food comes from dirt. Characterizing power as to whether its source is ‘clean’ or ‘dirty’ makes as much sense as characterizing food as coming from a ‘clean’ or ‘dirty’ source.
    ____________________________
    The super market predators are trying to make food not come from “Dirt” too.
    Food Safety’s Scorched Earth Policy: http://farmwars.info/?p=1284

    Talk about being unfriendly to the environment as well as idiotic! Unfortunately the law passed and now the bureaucratic regulation writers are getting ready to make this type of policy law.

    (Environmental types take note we can still kill the idiocy at the federal register level as each regulation comes up.)

  112. Robb714 says:

    This Nut likes the way Odd Ball thinks!

  113. Brian Macker says:

    The warming from CO2 is going to come in real handy for our ancestors at the scheduled start of the next ice age. I can’t think of a better gift for them. Think of the future and future generations.

  114. Chris B says:

    Voted No!

  115. David says:

    Jon says:
    November 16, 2011 at 8:21 am
    “And I remain amazed at how the energy/climate alarmists will not concede (are ‘in denial’) that the human influence on climate can be positive, not only negative, from an ecological and economic perspective.”

    I’d be interested in some “positive” ecological impacts that humans have had on our planet … can you list any?

    Well Jon, WW III would have large negative enviromental results. So far the 110 PPM juman caused additional CO2 has allowed crops worldwide to grow 10% to 15% more food on the SAME amount of land with the SAME amount of WATER. Future CO2 increases accelerate this benefit, while any warming is reduced. Sp, without the current human caused benefit enjoyed by all things green on the planet, right now water and food wars (likely WWIII) would be in process.

    The most certain way to increase the capacity to deal with enviromental issues, reduce population, increase standards of living, is to make energy as cheeply as possible, and follow common sense anti monoply regulations within a free market while investing in and improving alternative energy technology WITHOUT mandating that it be used, waiting until the market accepts it do to it as efficiency and the freemarket dictates. Anyone claiming the invisible hand of Adam Smith is not real is in denial of human nature. The harms of CO2 are hypothetical, the BENEFITS are KNOWN.

    “Such is the nature of the Tyrant, when he first appears he is a protector.” Plato.

  116. Jon says:

    Yes we are part of this planet .. a natural part … but with no controls on our population other than what we choose to impose on ourselves (barring the odd pandemic). There are many examples of species on planet earth that have suffered serious declines because of over population, resulting in habitat degredation. We are doing great harm to the environment around us and we will eventually have to pay the bill. My comments were nothing to do with environmentalism etc … just common sense!

  117. Jon says:

    p.s. Mariss … how can you read so much into my question … your world is obviously fictional!

  118. More Soylent Green! says:

    Does anybody know the barrel of oil equivalent of a ton of biomass? How many tons of biomass would it take to make a serious impact on our oil usage? How much land would it take to grow that much biomass?

    The problem with biomass is two-fold. The first problem is we don’t currently have any way to economically convert biomass into usable fuel. The second issue with biomass is the is the energy-density is too low. Fossil fuels are compact, energy-dense fuels. Biomass is voluminous and has a very low energy-density. It takes a lot of biomass to replace a barrel of oil. It takes a lot of land to grow that biomass and even if we’re talking about not using cropland, it’s still a lot of land area. Of course you have to harvest it, process it and distribute it.

  119. More Soylent Green! says:

    @Robert Brown says:
    November 16, 2011 at 11:48 am

    I haven’t the time to refute you point-by-point in detail here. I’ll just summarize by saying you’re premises are almost all incorrect and it’s therefore no wonder you’re conclusions are wrong.

    Scarcity – Which is scarcer, fossil fuels, which the USA and the possess in abundance, or the rare earth elements alternate energy requires?

    Equity – Collectivism has failed, in every incarnation. You can make a commune work, but only if dissenters and misfits are free to leave and be replace by new recruits.

    Economic fascism, which is what Mussolini created in order to overcome the shortcomings of socialism, failed as well, but many modern countries are trying to make it work, anyway. The conceit of the progressives is that it could be made to work, if only the right people (such as yourself), were in charge.

  120. Thomas Ulherr says:

    Jon, you can find one example of what we (i.e. the humans) can do against overpopulation in the PRC: Their one child policy. The whole concept of “overpopulation” is frequently used to justify a variety of things and has nearly as many flaws to it as the concept of CO2 driven CAGW. Malthus was wrong in his time, and he still is wrong now! This planet couldn´t care less about the species which populate it, it is only us (humans) who might care. And if we were to “suffer serious declines because of over population” – well, we then would have to do something about it. At present, people suffer NOT because of exhausted resources, but because of a seroiusly flawed, unbalanced distribution of resources. The above is of course a side-step from the topic – the renewable energy debate at the Economist.

    The PRO side in the Economist debate uses the BEST preliminary PR effort to claim that even the sceptics admit global warming. This shows just what the BEST effort is good for (so far)! I also find it astonishing that the one journal who was most committed to “Free market – free trade – low key government” has now changed sides and opines for subsidies, governmental interference with the market. Who would have thought this.

  121. THessler says:

    I’ve sent several messages to the Economist, challenging their approach to AGW and asking why they made a “house” decision to support the concept. No answer of course.

    In early 2007, the Economist published an even-handed article, stating both sides of the issue. At they end, though, they suggested that we phase out fissil fuel plants and that we had enough time to do so before we approached the 540 ppm of CO2 that “scientists suggest is an acceptable upper limit.” Now, they defend the AGW concept at every turn. Why? Will they regret doing that at some point?

  122. Gail Combs says:

    Jon says:
    November 17, 2011 at 4:37 am

    Yes we are part of this planet .. a natural part … but with no controls on our population other than what we choose to impose on ourselves (barring the odd pandemic). There are many examples of species on planet earth that have suffered serious declines because of over population, resulting in habitat degredation. We are doing great harm to the environment around us and we will eventually have to pay the bill. My comments were nothing to do with environmentalism etc … just common sense!
    __________________________________________

    If you bothered to look you would find the best way to halt over population and the protection of the environment is to promote western industrialized civilization including access to cheap energy.

    Poor third world countries are agrarian societies that depend on agriculture as the primary means for support. For these farmers, children are unpaid help. For example my Ex was driving a tractor by the age of five. This means a large family is seen as a positive were children add to the family’s fiscal bottom line.

    In an industrial society most live in the city or suburbs where children are a drain on the family finances. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that a middle-income family may spend $226,920 to raise a child born in 2010 to the age of 18″ http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-06-09/u-s-child-born-in-2010-may-cost-226-920-to-raise-usda-says.html

    The CIA’s total fertility rate (TFR) by country shows this is true. The listing goes from Niger with a TFR = 7.60 to Japan (1.21) Taiwan (1.15) Singapore (1.11) Hong Kong (1.07) and Macau (0.92)

    The replacement rate is 2.1 and 105 out of the 222 countries listed, like the EU countries, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Russia and China, are at or below 2.1. Another 35 are below 2.5. These include Indonesia, South Africa, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Brazil, Peru, Colombia and the like. The other large well known country, India is a TFR = 2.62

    The countries with the high birth rates are generally Africa, S.E. Asia and the middle east to Asia. Most are desperately poor with a high death rate for children and malnutrition for those who live. “In developing countries, almost one out of every 15 children will die before they reach the age of five” http://www.worldhunger.org/articles/Learn/child_hunger_facts.htm
    The UN reports ““Sub-Saharan Africa remains the most troubling geographic area…. 1 in every 6 children dies before age five…. Nearly 10 million children under five died worldwide in 2006, according to a new report. That is a daily rate of 26,000 deaths.” http://www.wsws.org/articles/2008/jan2008/mort-j31.shtml

    Also “the total fertility rate (TFR)…gives a figure for the average number of children that would be born per woman if all women lived to the end of their childbearing years and bore children according to a given fertility rate at each age.” This means the numbers maybe skewed in countries were women die of famine, childbirth complications, disease or low class status. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2127rank.html

  123. More Soylent Green! says:

    Jon says:
    November 17, 2011 at 4:37 am
    Yes we are part of this planet .. a natural part … but with no controls on our population other than what we choose to impose on ourselves (barring the odd pandemic). There are many examples of species on planet earth that have suffered serious declines because of over population, resulting in habitat degredation. We are doing great harm to the environment around us and we will eventually have to pay the bill. My comments were nothing to do with environmentalism etc … just common sense!

    If only they would bring back Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom to Nick at Nite maybe we wouldn’t have so many people with such unreal ideas of nature. Nature is never in balance for very long, if ever.

    How is it when a herd of deer overbreeds, it’s natural. When humans do it, it’s unnatural?

    Name a species that doesn’t expand to it’s limits. Name a species that voluntarily controls it’s population. Name a species that doesn’t have an impact on the environment.

  124. As an old subscriber to The economist, I normally read their online debates. I voted against their motion and enjoyed Mr Bradley`s clear arguments against it. BTW, the voting closed narrowly in our favor.

    In the debate of CC The Economist is clearly biased in favor of CAGW. A little strange, since the title of the magazine is “The Economist!?”

    For many years, I was subscribed to New Scientist as well but I couldn`t stomach their pro CAGW bias and I canceled the subscription three years ago. I hope, The Economist will not push me so far again…

  125. Jon says:

    More Soylent Green! thanks for agreeing with me :)

  126. JPeden says:

    Jon says:
    November 17, 2011 at 4:37 am

    There are many examples of species on planet earth that have suffered serious declines because of over population, resulting in habitat degredation. We are doing great harm to the environment around us and we will eventually have to pay the bill.

    Then underdevelopment is the problem you should be worried about, partly due to its direct relationship to population growth and also to genuinely polluting individual lifestyles and resulting political-economic societies, and conversely: Regimes and Ideologies which lead to no development, underdevelopment, or de-development are, therefore, the component of the problem which we can control at a macro-level.

    Hence, totalitarian Regimes such as the Obama Administration’s “Progressive” Communism and equivalent Ideologies seeking the same, such as Environmentalism’s regressive CO2 = CAGW, are the problem. See the comparison of the results of North Korea’s System to South Korea’s.

    The U.S.’s Constitutional Capitalism is obviously not the problem. Or else give me an example of its unremedied “environmental degradation” or “serious declines” in a species, or a problem not likely to be remedied just like the rest have been; of course also with a comparison to a more effective System, and not in comparison to “perfect”. The only System I can think of is possibly France’s, or the like, where they’ve wisely turned to nuclear energy and have thus avoided the unremedied problem of fossil fuel development in Totalitarian countries; while they also seem to be in line for the usual failures of a Socialist-Communist System, and apparently are also getting closer and closer to being unable to even defend their own country without using nuclear weapons – if NATO’s performance in Libya is any measure, apart from the U.S.’s contribution.

    And for the results of yet another set of experiments suggesting Communism’s direct relationship to the environmental degradation of habitat, check out the effect of the various congregated “Occupiers” on their immediate environments.

    Is that the kind of “solution” you want?

    [Also check out Willis Eschenbach's investigation here at WUWT, "Where are The Bodies?", concerning the lack evidence for species extinctions, since you also appear to be overly spooked by this particular spectre.]

  127. Jon says:

    Gail Combs … if you bothered to read this you would see that promoting western civilization would be crazy! http://www.sustainablescale.org/ConceptualFramework/UnderstandingScale/MeasuringScale/EcologicalFootprint.aspx

  128. JPeden says:

    “Hence, totalitarian Regimes such as the Obama Administration’s “Progressive” Communism and equivalent Ideologies seeking the same, such as Environmentalism’s regressive CO2 = CAGW, are the problem. See the comparison of the results of North Korea’s System to South Korea’s.”

    In such centrally controlled Totalitarian Systems, Jon, wealth creation simply does not occur, and wealth itself “degrades” down toward the level of being completely Slave-based, with similarly classically “imperialistic” solutions being the only other temporary stop-gap. The opposite occurs in a Market-based System. Therefore…..

  129. Jon says:

    JPeden … I am not proposing any solution … just making a statement based on the way we are heading with respect to resource depletion.

  130. JPeden says:

    Jon says:
    November 17, 2011 at 8:28 am

    Gail Combs … if you bothered to read this you would see that promoting western civilization would be crazy! http://www.sustainablescale.org/ConceptualFramework/UnderstandingScale/MeasuringScale/EcologicalFootprint.aspx

    From the link, right off: The Ecological Footprint is rooted in the fact that all renewable resources come from the earth.

    But, Jon, wealth creation comes from the human mind’s creativity, involving innovation and invention which in turn can be rooted in deriving the energy necessary for Humanity’s true progress, and thus for increasing people’s “standard of living”, from the earth’s resources – as exampled by all of the inventions so far which utilize the earth’s resources for he betterment of Humanity, including the most recent invention as to energy supplies, nuclear energy. Nor has the potential for hydro-power come anywhere close to being exhausted. Etc..

    Of course these resources might become exhausted or exceeded at some very far off time, thus resulting in your dreaded “ecological overshoot”, the fallacies of which have been examined in detail previously at WUWT.

    The main fallacy is the usual one which plagues a panicked, uncreative mind, and also characterizes the CAGW Propaganda Operation: that in order to prevent ecological overshoot or our imminent demise at our own hands, we should produce it immediately “before it’s too late” by curtailing and even reversing wealth creation by imposing an obviously regressive Totalitarian System upon the whole world, with its well known and proven consequences. Such that “the alleged cure is manifestly worse than the alleged disease” in being immediately fatal!

    Face it, Jon, you are not going to live forever. But you and your fellow neurotics and “save the world” controllists should at least leave the rest of us alone, to be able to push forward using our own genuinely miraculous capacities of our human minds, instead of trying to make us heel to your closed minded, uncreative and effectively clinically depressed mental state.

    Ask yourself, Jon, are you really only Totalitarianist fodder? Or else just who is “crazy”?

  131. JPeden says:

    Jon says:
    November 17, 2011 at 9:11 am

    JPeden … I am not proposing any solution … just making a statement based on the way we are heading with respect to resource depletion.

    Yes you are proposing a solution, de-development via the curtailment of wealth creation, or else some kind of genocide, based upon your alleged “facts”. But if you are not proposing a solution, then at least stop calling real solutions to the problems which you seem to excessively fear “crazy”.

    It’s not “common sensical” and you are only playing into the hands of Totalitarian Controllists, who are obviously already affecting your mind adversely.

    Seriously, start using your own inherent capacities to find your own outlook and contributions to the real problems. And you’ll feel much better to boot.

  132. Jon says:

    JPeden .. what a heap of @#$%!

  133. Smokey says:

    I agree with JPeden.

  134. Jon says:

    Try reading this: http://environment.research.yale.edu/documents/downloads/0-9/105flores.pdf

    [Reply: When posting a link, please indicate what it's about. ~dbs, mod.]

  135. Gail Combs says:

    Jon says:
    November 17, 2011 at 8:28 am

    Gail Combs … if you bothered to read this you would see that promoting western civilization would be crazy! http://www.sustainablescale.org/ConceptualFramework/UnderstandingScale/MeasuringScale/EcologicalFootprint.aspx
    ________________________________
    When looking at information it is always wise to remember H. L. Mencken”s words:
    “The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it.”

    So who are these people and what is their possible hidden agenda?

    The first clue is the code word “Sustainable” which means the United Nation’s Agenda 21. Full text of Agenda 21: http://www.un.org/esa/dsd/agenda21/res_agenda21_00.shtml

    The second clue is the funding from the Santa-Barbara Family Foundation. Jack Santa-Barbara, with a PhD in Experimental Social Psychology, is a Board Member of the International Forum on Globalization: http://nz.phase2.org/about-sanz/phase2-board and http://alternativeenergy.procon.org/view.source.php?sourceID=007071

    I do not know about you but I do not want to be part of Jack’s worldwide “Social Experiment.”

    THE PEOPLE

    David Batker …has taught in the Training Department of the World Bank, and has worked for Greenpeace International….

    Herman E.Daly…… From 1988 to 1994 he was Senior Economist in the Environment Department of the World Bank

    Josh Farley…. major research interests include mechanisms for allocating resources under local control and national sovereignty that generate global public goods, developing transdisciplinary case study approaches to environmental problem solving as an educational tool, ecological restoration of rainforest ecosystems, economic globalization, ecosystem valuation, watershed management, and international development…. http://www.sustainablescale.org/Advisorypanel.aspx

    And from the “first ever de-growth conference in North America” on the president of the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy

    The evidence is overwhelming that unlimited industrial growth is no longer possible…..

    Speakers list:
    Brian Czech is the president of the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (CASSE), a non-profit organization based in Arlington, Virginia. The mission of CASSE is to educate the public and policy makers on the fundamental conflict between economic growth and: 1) environmental protection; 2) economic sustainability; 3) national security, and; 4) international stability. He currently serves as Conservation Biologist in the national office of the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service….. http://www.wiserearth.org/article/c58d0167042c9186e37cce6187029f92

    WHO is doing the funding:
    It is The Santa-Barbara Family Foundation ($5,330 in 2008)

    Who else does the Santa-Barbara Family Foundation donate to? Well Well Well, The biggest donation is to the International Forum on Globalization!!! No surprise there since that is Jack’s baby.

    This of course goes along with the Description

    “The Santa-Barbara Family Foundation is a private foundation located in Lynden, ON. It supports selected organizations across Canada, with a primary focus programs for environment protection and sustainable communities.” http://ajah.ca/explore/fo/13433

    International Forum on Globalization

    …the IFG became the first major organization to initiate work on alternative policies and visions to the current global economic model enforced through institutions such as the World Bank, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), as well as international investment agencies and other such bureaucracies. Our work is closely linked to social and environmental movements, providing them with critical thinking and frameworks that inform campaigns and activities “on the ground.” http://www.ifg.org/programs/alternatives.htm

    From the Second Biennial Conference of the United States Society for Ecological Economics http://www.ussee.org/v2/pdf/USSEE2003_ConferenceProgram.pdf

    ……Center for Energy and Environmental Studies….
    Indicators for Sustainable Energy Development: The Development of a Three-Dimensional Index Agenda 21, the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development adopted in 1992, presents the features of sustainable development in four dimensions: social, economic, environmental and institutional. To embark on a path towards increased sustainability, regions need to achieve certain objectives within each dimension, preferably simultaneously…..

    Santa-Barbara, Jack
    The Santa-Barbara Family Foundation, Lynden, Ontario, Canada
    The Scale Project

    The Mission of The Scale Project is to influence relevant intergovernmental bodies to integrate the scale concept into their policy decisions, and to assist them implement those decisions in an effective manner. ….

    The Sustainable Scale Project http://www.sustainablescale.org/specificprojects/EnergyFutureCampaign.aspx

    Three key criteria for a new paradigm must be:
    * Ecological sustainability, and
    * Social equity
    * Non-violent conflict resolution.

    An international campaign is needed to work toward the development of a binding agreement amongst all nations for the sustainable production and equitable consumption of energy.

    Jon I suggest you read up on the World Bank and IMF

    You can start here:
    IMF:
    http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/IMF_WB/Budhoo_IMF.htm
    http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/IMF_WB/Budhoo_50YIE.html

    World Bank:
    http://www.whirledbank.org/development/sap.html

    The World Bank and the environment. It is about money not the environment and not the people. I describe what is going on in these to comments.
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/09/25/they-had-to-burn-the-village-to-save-it-from-global-warming/#comment-754959
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/10/13/borlaug-2-0/#comment-767559

  136. DirkH says:

    Jon says:
    November 17, 2011 at 8:28 am
    “Gail Combs … if you bothered to read this you would see that promoting western civilization would be crazy! ”

    We have constantly changed and revolutionized the technologies that maintain and increase our wealth, and this process doesn’t stop. The “ecological footprint” scare assumes a static state of technology and is therefore invalid.

  137. Robert Brown says:

    “Finally, I personally dislike the word “capitalism”. It is a Karl Marx word that incites class warfare. The actual benefits to society come from the free market. Regulation is necessary to make a level playing field and set reasonable standards, and courts are necessary to adjudicate disputes and punish fraud. Other than that, the less government interference, the more wealthy the entire society becomes. The richest countries are the most pollution free; the direct result of the free market in operation.”

    Most of this a completely agree with — it is close to what I said as well, although I’m less sensitive about the terminology per se. “Capitalism” and “Communism” at this point are religious mythologies to many people, as is “Socialism”. All this does is get in the way of common sense. There are no pure capitalisms any more, because “pure” capitalism doesn’t work for entirely common sense reasons. There are no countries that are pure communism AFAIK, and damn few microsocieties (e.g. religious groups that practice it), if any. If you view socialism as a spectrum in between, nearly all countries are hence “socialist”, with some leaning more towards the communist end of things and some leaning more towards the capitalist end of things, but even acknowledging this, or that this is actually a good thing, is too much for econo-religious zealots.

    I don’t think that I agree that the entire reason gasoline prices are so high is because of artificial limits on the supply side — that’s a bit too simple. They’ve also risen because many of the “easy” oil fields have played out, and the cost of finding and drilling to new sources has steadily risen. There is no possible comparison between drilling a well in the middle of texas close to a road and drilling a well in the middle of the Gulf. They’ve also risen because society is less tolerant about the hidden costs of drilling that were previously ignored and is insisting that oil companies assume responsibility for cleaning up the inevitable messes and put things “back” when they leave so that they don’t leave a mess behind either. You can view this as government “getting out of the way” if you want to, but all it is really doing is forcing we the people to assume those costs for them — the cost out of pocket for doing the work has to be borne one way or the other.

    Or, of course, we could just let them make a toxic mess and leave it all behind and NOT clean it up. It worked, and continues to work, in the Great Lakes — just don’t eat too many meals of fish, or any at all if you’re pregnant, or assume a risk of highly nonlinear and randomly apportioned hidden costs in the form of uncompensated cancer and early death and birth defects.

    It is thus a matter of judgement as to whether or not it is better to permit/encourage offshore drilling or prohibit/tax the hell out of it to discourage it. There is a distinctly nonzero risk of catastrophe associated with every well that is drilled. It may be very small, but the payout when it hits is, as we have seen quite recently, astronomical — tens of billions of dollars. Furthermore, it is impossible to reduce the risk to zero — there are a dozen ways a similar accident could happen that cannot be anticipated or that somebody, somewhere, will deem to be a risk that is so low it can safely be ignored — until it hits anyway. Would a well withstand an 8.5 undersea earthquake with a nearby epicenter? Would the ten closest wells? We could have the gulf oil disaster times ten all at the same time with something that isn’t really even particularly unlikely, not on a hundred year time frame of exposure times tens of thousands of wells on all kinds of coasts. If the equivalent of the Charleston earthquake strikes with a dozen wells drilled right off of the atlantic coast, would we end up with a $200-300 billion price tag and a company bankrupt and unABLE to pay for fixing it? Unlikely, perhaps, but not unlikely enough that the expectation value of the cost is negligible. It’s a matter of judgement that determines the point at which you think Russian Roulette becomes a worthwhile game if played with a substantial payoff and a gun with a thousand chambers (one loaded) or ten thousand (one loaded).

    The point is that unless you can conclusively prove that this sort of thing CANNOT happen — manifestly impossible, as it has — it seems as though it is difficult to claim that it is a “fault” for we the people to be involved in the decision of precisely what fraction of the risk WE are going to end up assuming in order to help make a very tiny subset of all of us rich (or so broke that we have to pick up the rest of a catastrophic cost).

    In the meantime, we can point to TMI, Chernobyl, the nukes in Japan that are still toxic and hot, the Exxon Valdez, the Gulf Oil disaster, Love Canal, the mercury soaked ex-paper mills in eastern NC that are still leaching massive amounts of mercury into the ecosystem, the PCBs and mercury in the fish in the Great Lakes, the banks in the Fed, 2/3 of the telecommunications industry, and the entire tobacco industry as pretty much certain proof that no, corporations cannot be trusted to do the right thing and police themselves or each other and that yes, we the people can and regularly are left holding the bag when they “impossibly” melt down, run aground and spill, come apart and spill worse, dump toxic waste and hide it, walk away from toxic waste and leave it until it dumps itself, spew industrial waste and chemicals into the drinking water for a hundred or so unregulated years before at best SLOWING DOWN in modern times (it hasn’t stopped), manipulating the money supply to their own substantial and unearned advantage, loaning money as if they were banks to customers on an unsecured basis, and hell, just flat out poisoning everybody with an addictive carcinogenic substance and leaving we the people who don’t smoke to pay the enormous bill in the form of health care (and a dozen other incidental costs) of those who do.

    Again, don’t interpret this as a statement that we should, or shouldn’t drill offshore for oil. What I think that we SHOULD do is soberly and honestly go over the cost benefit of doing so, compared to the cost benefit of dumping some of the money that we are indeed going to be liable for if we permit it (one way or the other — who REALLY pays for the Gulf, after all? — into alternative investments with a different risk/cost/benefit profile. I do not thing that it makes any sense at all to claim that we should “obviously” just permit it, or that high oil prices are the “fault” of people who are deliberately obstructing people’s opportunity to get rich mining something that is clearly in the commons — who owns the ocean bottoms if not everybody and nobody, after all — without considering the risks that WE assume without ever getting paid for them as they do so, without considering whether or not we collectively would rather hold onto the resource and preserve it for the future rather than “spend it” in this way now.

    Less religion, more common sense. Oil, coal, and gas aren’t perfect. Only if one acknowledges and includes all of their upfront and hidden costs and risks can one rationally look at their benefits and make the BEST choices. I personally am not at all calling for gasoline and oil to be banned. I drive a Ford Excursion — the world’s largest passenger car and second least politically correct personal vehicle (behind the Hummer), own and fish from a boat with a large motor, cook on natural gas, and so on. I am unconvinced of AGW; indeed I’m mostly convinced that there is no significant AGW although arguablI am rationally concerned about the probable future progression of costs, benefits, and uninsured risks associated with their extraction, and think that it is painfully obvious that we should be pushing the development of solar energy as a mid-range and partial alternative, both to eke out our (still reasonably low cost) supply and to help us bridge the gap until fusion or improved solar and storage technologies do indeed let us SLOWLY restructure our society into one that is sustainable for thousands of years without the tremendous disparity in wealth and income that destabilizes the world today and causes much human suffering. I’d actually like to see us get there before the resources are too depleted, as well, as I still think that burning oil and coal is wasting much of their virtue as raw materials to get something (energy) that can easily be gotten other ways.

    rgb

  138. DirkH says:

    Robert Brown says:
    November 17, 2011 at 11:10 am
    “I’d actually like to see us get there before the resources are too depleted, as well, as I still think that burning oil and coal is wasting much of their virtue as raw materials to get something (energy) that can easily be gotten other ways.”

    We have energy resources for 1,500 years at current consumption according to a German study.
    613,180 EJ, to be specific. Yearly consumption is 457 EJ. This doesn’t count Uranium in seawater.
    German:
    http://www.bgr.bund.de/DE/Themen/Energie/energie_node.html
    http://www.bgr.bund.de/DE/Themen/Energie/Downloads/Energiestudie-Kurzstudie2010.pdf?__blob=publicationFile&v=3

    As for the qualities of oil etc as raw materials, this argument overlooks that hydrocarbons can be synthesized given enough energy, or gained from plants if so desired. For instance, the algae E. braunii stores energy in oil droplets with a chemical composition very similar to Diesel. So, if the stuff is scarce enough, you might use that as the source for your chemical processing.

  139. JPeden says:

    Jon says:
    November 17, 2011 at 9:40 am

    JPeden .. what a heap of @#$%!

    Jon, wake up. I’m simply not frightened by these and your kind of Doomsday Scenarios once they are exposed to my rational capacities. Nor do I need a stifling Religion of Doom or Apocalypse in order to “cope” with my own ultimate fate and my problem of achieving meaning in my life by instead serving the Religion’s fabricated and destructive “blame game”, essentially blaming me for my own failure to cope – validly, if I subscribed to it such as you do in the case your chosen Religion of Ecological Overshoot – but then dishonestly trying to transfer the blame to everyone else and make them heel to my will, which already shows a given permanent failure to cope. In other words, by trying to take everyone else down with me because of Ecological Overshoot, CAGW, Social Justice, and the like.

    You and the rest might as well be overtly Deathworshipping as an “ethic” smack in the face of your own life and actual potential!

    So give up your chosen Religion right now, for your own good, Jon. You do have a real choice and yours won’t work for you. And the Religion’s side effects are blatantly evil when applied to the rest of us. Take the blame for your own very personal problem upon yourself, then do something about it. Unfortunately or fortunately, it’s something which only you can do!

    I’m certainly not going to follow you, regardless.

  140. Robert Brown says:

    “As a chemist I am in favor of not using hydrocarbons for producing electricity if there are better alternatives. The stuff is too useful for things like plastic.”

    Gail, it is worth noting that, as a physicist, I agree with pretty much everything you say (with one modest exception). Not just in this reply, in your other reply on the population problem. I grew up in India (my father worked for Ford Foundation) and most Americans simply have no idea what they’re talking about when they attempt to minimize Malthus or argue for unconstrained procreation. Yes, the best way to defeat Malthus is to civilize the world and make it uniformly wealthy, but we’re at least decades if not a hundred years from managing that trick, and cheap, inexhaustible, uniformly distributed energy resources are a NECESSARY (and probably sufficient, over time) condition for managing it. Fission-based nuclear is itself at best a bridge technology in the long run, at least as far as proven e.g. thorium or uranium reserves is concerned, and not even that long a bridge if it becomes as common as it probably should be.

    One thing nobody here seems to want to address is: What is the human species going to do for energy in the year 3000? In the year 2500? In the year 2100? The answer to this seems to be tightly linked to what we choose to do right now. In the year 3000 we will not be burning coal, or oil, or natural gas. The interglacial will almost certainly be over, and all of these resources will have run out. We will be starting up a (probable) 90,000 years of ice age, with no gas, no oil, and a vast reduction of arable land.

    There are precisely two basic sources that could credibly be supplying enough energy to sustain a meaningful civilization at that time, at least as far as I can see (with more knowledge about energy than most). Nuclear fusion, presuming that we have mastered it at an economically feasible level, and solar. Sure, there will be dribs and drabs from hydro, geo, maybe wind, but the only reliable non-fossil fuel sources present in sufficient abundance to run the planet a thousand years from now with sustained, uncollapsed civilization (a high rate of energy consumption, in other words) in between are Deuterium (and other fissionables, perhaps) and insolation from the sun. Biofuels are solar fuels, by the way. Wood is a solar fuel. Hemp and other fast-grow crops are solar fuels. Whale blubber is a solar fuel. Even oil and coal are solar fuels, although they are OLD solar fuels, not sustainably renewed.

    Oh, and the sun itself runs on fusion. So really, there is only one basic source — fusion, although it would be nice to be able to bring the fusion source down to earth instead of having to deal with its indirect collection and redistribution.

    Solar is, of course broad — it encompasses many technologies. It isn’t just solar cells, it is solar updraft towers, it is solar heaters and solar heat engine generators, it is biofuels. It isn’t just one KIND of solar cell — the kind of solar cell that ultimately proves to be best may not have been invented yet. It might end up being bioengineered and not toxic at all, and by their nature, the toxic kinds of solar cells are pretty much 100% recyclable with very little loss of toxic compounds. Similarly, we may or may not have discovered or figured out how to mass-implement a sustainable energy storage mechanism, but there have been and continue to be pretty significant advances in this at e.g. MIT and elsewhere.

    As several Northerners have noted, solar is far from perfect, although IF WE HAD THE WILL TO DO SO we could no doubt provide 100% of the energy per capita consumed in the US right now to every human alive on earth inside fifty years. We could accomplish this without even all that much sacrifice; it would be paying for itself completely in the not too long run. To get the energy from the sunny south or southwest US up to the cold dark northeast and Canada would be a pain in the ass, no doubt, but again this is the sort of problem that engineering and discovery are likely to solve, if we start putting enough energy and money into looking for the solution. For example, using equatorial electricity to make high energy density hydrocarbons and shipping THEM might actually be feasible if we can’t do better with very high voltage transmission lines, if we don’t invent a way to transmit it down a superconducting wave guide with minimal loss per thousand miles.

    I don’t think that this is an either/or question, as many here seem to do. Solar actually is a good complement to fossil fuels and is already an economic win — even unsubsidized, a straight up win — in much of the Southwest. I don’t think it is necessary to burn MORE fossil fuels as an “in your face” to AGW fans just because they are wrong — expensive silliness at best — or to pretend that solar is much worse than it is to make burning stuff look better by comparison. Realistic common sense appraisal of alternatives plus the VISION to start researching and engineering a steady state world-spanning energy system will serve everybody better than EITHER of the religious dogmas that seem to dominate climate/energy discussions.

  141. Robert Brown says:

    “We have energy resources for 1,500 years at current consumption according to a German study.”

    Current consumption, if you add up all of the joules, and spread them out over the time. Not constant/current cost.

    rgb

  142. Gail Combs says:

    Jon says:
    November 17, 2011 at 10:24 am

    Try reading this: http://environment.research.yale.edu/documents/downloads/0-9/105flores.pdf

    [Reply: When posting a link, please indicate what it's about. ~dbs, mod.]
    ________________________________
    Jon,

    I used to be a member of Greenpeace, Sierra Club, Nature Conservancy and WWF. My land is habitat to deer, bear, grey fox, hawks, owls, coyotes, bobcats and more.

    I am not opposed to conservation by any means. What I am opposed to is a bunch of “Holier than Thou” hypocrites who wish to reduce me to slave/serf status while elevating themselves to the “Aristocracy” That in a nut shell is what you as a “Useful Innocent” are actually promoting.

    Do you think for one minute the people promoting this “De-development” are going to live like us?

    Do you think Al Gore, David Rockefeller, Maurice Strong or the founders of the WWF 1001 club, people like Agha Hasan Abedi (Founder and president of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International), Giovanni Agnelli (Fiat & International Advisory Council of Chase Manhattan Bank) Sheikh Ali Ahmed (convicted Diamond & gold smuggler….) and the Duchess of Alba (one of the richest women in Europe, owning 2 billion Sq. Meters of land across the country including castles and mansions) are going to give up their wealth and status and live a simple life? Not hardly or they would already be leading by example and living like monks. http://www.undovedmind.org/ISGP/articles/organisations/1001_Club_members_list.htm

    Maurice Strong made it very clear who is the real target when he said:
    “It is clear that current lifestyles and consumption patterns of the affluent middle class — involving high meat intake, consumption of large amounts of frozen and convenience foods, use of fossil fuels, appliances, home and work-place air-conditioning, and suburban housing — are not sustainable. A shift is necessary toward lifestyles less geared to environmentally damaging consumption patterns.” Rio Conference (Earth Summit II) 1992

    The target is you and me not THEM, the ultra rich, soon to be our lord and masters if you and your fellow Innocents have your way.

    Oh and to add insult to injury. Strong,”Godfather of the international environmental movement” since the 1972 1st Earth Summit, worked for Dome Petroleum, re-built Ajax Petroleum into the renamed Canadian Industrial Gas & Oil Co. and was president of Petro-Canada. On top of that are Strong’s ties to the United Nations Oil-for-Food scandal that sent him scurrying to China to avoid prosecution. Mr. Tongsun Park who handed Strong the check, was an adviser and then the CEO of the Canadian Atomic Energy Co. (AECL) which marketed nuclear reactors to Asia.

    Maurice (Strong) must now remain in China (where he is very welcome) to avoid questioning by the FBI and Canadian investigators about the $1 million that Tongsun gave him and which Mo(Maurice) tried to hide in his son Fred’s nuclear power company, which now is bankrupt.” (Pittsburg Tribune-Review, July 30, 2006.)

    And speaking of nuclear there is the Molten Metal scam that Al Gore and Maurice Strong pulled off leading to a congressional investigation and law suits. Also Strong as head of AZL, was sued for hyping the stock ahead of a merger that failed. He settled for $4.2 million. Strong’s American Water Development Inc. was the target of environmental protesters afraid that the San Luis Valley in Colorado would be turned into a desert if he pumped and sold the water to Front Range cities as he originally intended. http://www.oneonta.edu/faculty/baumanpr/geosat2/Dry_Land_Water/Dry_Land_Water.htm

    FOLLOW THE MONEY

    These people are about scamming us and not about “concern” for the environment.

  143. JPeden says:

    “So give up your chosen Religion right now, for your own good, Jon. You do have a real choice…

    Look at it this way, Jon. Simply being able to choose is a freaking miracle. Exercise your own capacity wisely!

    Even Determinism, where people allege that they can’t do anything about anything, is a choice and displays a capacity to judge which disproves Determinism! And to make a long story short, that’s the only way the words “being determined” and “not being determined” can make sense to begin with in the real world, in other words by being quasi-falsifiable, and that we can even communicate to each other in relation to the real world.

    On the other hand, Climate Science tries to totally evade the real situation and the rules which apply to it, in favor of its goal to manipulate people.

  144. DirkH says:

    “Robert Brown says:
    November 17, 2011 at 11:50 am
    “We have energy resources for 1,500 years at current consumption according to a German study.”

    Current consumption, if you add up all of the joules, and spread them out over the time. Not constant/current cost.”

    Well Joules are Joules and not Dollars. But talking about the cost, which is of course an interesting issue: IF costs of non-renewable resources rise, which I expect, albeit only slowly AND renewable technology gets cheaper (which I expect for solar, but not for wind – wind seems to have reached the end of its downward price slope), then over time it will become economic to produce electricity with solar without the need for subsidies. A while later it will, if these trends continue, become economic to produce synthetic hydrocarbons, namely Methane, with excess solar electricity (or directly from sunlight via an as yet uninvented technology) and store energy this way.

    What I wanted to point out is that we have all the time in the world for such a transition. There is absolutely no need to pour billions of subsidies into the renewable energy sector now – that’s pure crony capitalism if you ask me. You get a whole lot of Solyndra’s – Germany’s artificial renewable boom also continues crashing down, look at stock valuations for Conergy or Q-Cells – the Danish Vestas Wind turbine makers are at a 5 year low – so that’s all artificially inflated boom and bust cycles.

    But WORRYING about where we’ll get our energy from in 2100? There’s not the slightest need for that. A much more pressing need is improving the standard of living the world over; using cheap fossil fuel; that should even be in the interest of Malthusians like Jon because a rise in living standards always goes hand in hand with dropping fertility and better environmental protection.

    See http://www.gapminder.org ; or search for Hans Rosling on youtube, wait, here he is:

  145. Gail Combs says:

    Robert Brown says:
    November 17, 2011 at 11:48 am

    Gail, it is worth noting that, as a physicist, I agree with pretty much everything you say (with one modest exception). Not just in this reply, in your other reply on the population problem. I grew up in India (my father worked for Ford Foundation) and most Americans simply have no idea what they’re talking about when they attempt to minimize Malthus or argue for unconstrained procreation…..
    _____________________________________
    Robert,
    I have not been to India but I have been in Mexico several days walk from the nearest road. I have seen the pregnant 15 year old with two or three kids hanging on her skirts. However LOOK at the progress that has been made since you were in India as a kid and I was in Mexico as a newly wed. Mexico has a FR = 2.29 and India a FR = 2.62. Even in Africa the total fertility rate in both cities and rural are declining according to a study I read.

    …However, until the late 1980s there was little evidence of any change in fertility. Since then, many changes have occurred in sub-Saharan Africa. Although population growth rates remain high, signs of reductions in fertility are appearing in several populations once regarded as having little or no prospect of lower levels of reproduction in the short term…

    Barney Cohen reviews levels, differentials, and trends in fertility for more than 30 countries from 1960 to 1992. He finds evidence of fertility decline in Botswana, Kenya, and Zimbabwe, confirming the basic results of the DHS. What is new here though is his finding that the fertility decline appears to have occurred across cohorts of women at all parities, rather than just among women at middle and higher parities, as might have been expected on the basis of experience in other parts of the world. He also presents evidence that fertility may have begun to fall in parts of Nigeria and possibly in Senegal. http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=2207&page=3

    However the problem of “Over Population” is being “Taken Care of” whether we agree or not. It would seem there are those in our own government who have decided to play god and there is where I have a major nit to pick!

    Epicyte, Calif. using a grant from the USDA came up with spermicidal corn. A North Carolina company based in Pittsboro acquired it in May 2004. Allegedly Dr. Ignacio Chapela, a University of California microbiologist, reported that the spermicidal corn is being tested in Mexico. However the actual transcript I found is about the 3 and 10 percent GMO genetic contamination of remotely grown corn in the Mexican hinterlands of Oaxaca. http://www.mindfully.org/GE/GE4/Chapela-Interviewed-Metrofarm9feb02.htm

    Silvia Ribeiro, of the ETC organization,… stated in La Jornada: “The potential of spermicidal corn as a biological weapon is outrageous, since it easily interbreeds with other varieties, is capable of going undetected and could lodge itself at the very core of indigenous and farming cultures. We have witnessed the execution of repeated sterilization campaigns performed against indigenous communities. This method is certainly much more difficult to trace.” http://www.alternet.org/story/18154?page=2

    As far as energy goes, as I said thorium looks like the best bet with continuing work on fusion indicated as a long term solution.

    As a farmer I would absolutely LOVE to see hemp grown in the USA. It is a very useful plant in so many ways. “Banning it” was one of the most idiotic moves the US government ever made! http://www.industrialhemp.net/

    Time to push another hemp bill in congress. I was hoping while the democrats were in control we would get a bill passed.

  146. Smokey says:

    Congratulations to Robert Bradley for winning the Economist debate!

    Final score: 48% For, 52% Against [Robert argued against the question.]

    Kudos. The enviro crowd lost another debate. It’s getting to be a habit.

  147. @pittzer-Bunker fuel does offer some solutions, however a few company’s currently own re-refineries and have been able to take used motor oil and cheaply frac it back to original specs. A new re-refinery in being built in Georgia to accomplish this. Today’s technology offers some affordable solutions to the issue.

  148. Bill Parsons says:

    I consider this a valuable, if surprising, contribution from the Economist:

    http://www.economist.com/node/21532246

    On a personal, curmudgeonly note – since it seems to bother no one else – I hate that the Economist articles gives no names. [Note to Economist editors and writers: that white space beneath the dateline in your magazine? That's where the names go. In a blog, I understand the pseudonyms, but in a magazine filled with (practically nothing but) editorials, it would be best if you would "man up" and sign your names. Congratulations, and well-done to Mr. James Astill in this symbolic effort to wean yourself away from your journal's anonymity.]

  149. Jon says:

    I am amazed how so many people can read so much into a few sentences … this was my original question: “I’d be interested in some “positive” ecological impacts that humans have had on our planet … can you list any?” Like always on this site anyone who is even perceived to be an environmentalist etc. is jumped upon … and labelled with names such as greens, warmists etc etc. It’s interesteing that people do this when they feel threatened or need to push and agenda … similar tactics were used by the nazis against certain groups in the 1930’s.

    I am not and never have been an environmetal activist … I am certainly not a Totalitarian as one comedian suggested. I do not believe in human induced global warming. I believe the world (or certain parts of it) is warming but that it is a natural phenomenon.

    If you have no concerns for the environment then so be it … I feel sorry for you. Our natural surroundings are something we should cherish … it’s too late to think about it once it’s gone. I have spent my whole life living and working in the natural resource sector and I have a deep respect for it. I spend a lot of time utilizing natural resources through hunting, fishing. canoeing, hiking etc. Natural resources can give us so much if they managed to make them sustainable.
    I realize that most people in the western world live in cities and have a total disconnect with the natural world … perhaps some education is in order so that people know where there meat, vegetables and other resources come from!

  150. Jon- I am an Environmental Consultant and have been for 22 years. One can be an Environmentalist and still use common sense. Common sense and Science tells us that Global Warming is real, however Science combined with common sense tells us Man has little to do with it. One group you leave out is hunters. They care more about the “Natural” World as a group then almost anybody but yet are dismissed as neanderthals and no I don’t hunt. Man is an animal of the highest order, we evolved because of the Natural World not in-spite of it.

    Once you get out of the major cities those of us in the country and I mean rural country know all about that which you speak. Your issue is with the city dwellers which actually make up a small portion of the Country as a whole.

  151. Jon says:

    Thanks Steve … I am a big game, small game and waterfowl hunter … I do not take pleasure in killing things but it puts nutritious healthy food on the table!

  152. Reference says:

    Robert,

    Thanks for the tip.

    W. S. Jevons in his 1865 classic, The Coal Question.

    The link goes to Google Books.

  153. G. Karst says:

    Jon says:
    November 18, 2011 at 5:08 am

    I realize that most people in the western world live in cities and have a total disconnect with the natural world … perhaps some education is in order so that people know where there meat, vegetables and other resources come from!

    This “education” cannot be delivered within our current educational system. It would require that every individual spend some time (at least from planting to harvest), living and working on a farm. I have always thought that farm service should be a mandatory requirement for graduating from high school. It would also help with the labor shortage experienced by farmers that no longer produce 12 children. All people should be fully aware of the sources of life sustainability.

    As a nature and environmental course, it would far exceed anything given in a classroom. GK

  154. Gail Combs says:

    Steve Lindsey says:
    November 18, 2011 at 5:49 am

    …..Once you get out of the major cities those of us in the country and I mean rural country know all about that which you speak. Your issue is with the city dwellers which actually make up a small portion of the Country as a whole.
    ______________________________________
    Steve, I really wish you were correct. The city/suburb dwellers (super market predators) out number the rural dwellers by about 3 to 1 and this has allowed an unrealistic view of nature to grow to the point that people fear to touch a goat or a lamb or a horse and rush for the hand sanitizer. (Studies are showing farm kids have better immune systems and less allergies)

    For the US 1990 Census:
    urban population = 187,053,487,
    [non urban] rural = 61,656,386.
    The US Census uses two types of urban areas: Urbanized Areas (UAs) of 50,000 or more people and Urban Clusters (UCs) of at least 2,500 and less than 50,000 people. “Rural” encompasses all population, housing, and territory not included within an urban area. http://www.census.gov/geo/www/ua/urbanruralclass.html

    Jon,
    Actually I called you a “Useful Innocent” In many ways we all are because the target is good hearted people who want to help. Cancer scams such as Cancer Society of America (as opposed to the real American Cancer Society) are a good example. I got sucker by them.

    The fact that you are a target is no reflection on you, but on those who would use kindness and concern as a weapon to work ill. I went through the dissection above to show how to determine the hidden agenda of those who give us information.

    BIOFUEL and SUSTAINABILITY
    “Sustainability” by the way is a real hot button among some of us farmers because it is the concept used to push Agenda 21. We started out in 2005/6 ignorant, wondering why the USDA was trying to shove “Traceability” down our throats when it was not needed. Much research (thank you Gisela) tracked it back to the World Trade Organization and then to the UN, Agenda 21 and “Sustainability” After five to six years fighting the Government/Ag Cartel, you are going to get an automatic response if you use “Sustainability” along with “environment” and “population control”. Those are all used as the justification for why we are going to lose our farms, get million dollar fines and/or tossed in jail. The “Farm Wars” has been much more up front and personal than CAGW. It is not about a 10% increase in prices but losing your entire “life” Also the consequences to humanity are worse – corporate controlled famine. See: http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-how-goldman-gambled-on-starvation-2016088.html
    Broad picture: http://www.financialsense.com/contributors/william-engdahl/2011/06/29/getting-used-to-life-without-food-part-1
    Derivatives Market Collusion: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/12/business/12advantage.html
    Who’s who: http://www.scribd.com/doc/60473464/Food-4-Thought-Who-Controls-Our-Food

    SUSTAINABILITY:
    Senate 25 X 25 resolution (Sustainability): http://www.25×25.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=310&Itemid=56
    The best “farmer” site is Gisela Swift’s NAISinfoCentral: http://xstatic99645.tripod.com/naisinfocentral/id31.html

    Barbara Peterson’s FarmWars:
    http://farmwars.info/?p=5280

    Walter Jeffries
    http://nonais.org/2010/12/19/sustainability/

    The Henshaw Documents (2006) are well worth reading as it was the catalyst that made many farmers realize just how deep tin manure we were. http://nonais.org/index.php/2006/10/02/henshaw-documents/

    The “Farm Wars” have been hidden much better than CAGW mainly because our allies were “captured” http://farmwars.info/?p=5032

  155. Rob Bradley says:

    YES, ANYONE CAN REPRINT OR OTHERWISE EMPLOY THIS ESSAY, AND WE WOULD LOVE SOME OF YOU ‘TALENTED AMATEURS’ TO POST AT WITH US at http://www.masterresource.org (if not, of course, at WUWT).

    Thank you for the comments,

    – Rob Bradley

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