The Climate Fix is "in"

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The Climate Fix: What Scientists and Politicians Won’t Tell You About Global Warming is now available at Amazon.com

Why has the world been unable to address global warming? Science policy expert Roger Pielke, Jr., says it’s not the fault of those who reject the Kyoto Protocol, but those who support it, and the magical thinking that the agreement represents.

In The Climate Fix, Pielke offers a way to repair climate policy, shifting the debate away from meaningless targets and toward a revolution in how the world’s economy is powered, while de-fanging the venomous politics surrounding the crisis. The debate on global warming has lost none of its power to polarize and provoke in a haze of partisan vitriol. The Climate Fix will bring something new to the discussions: a commonsense perspective and practical actions better than any offered so far.

Editorial Reviews via Amazon

From Publishers Weekly

Pielke (The Honest Broker) presents a smart and hard-nosed analysis of the politics and science of climate change and proposes a commonsense approach to climate policy. According to Pielke, the iron law of climate policy dictates that whenever environmental and economic objectives are placed in opposition to each other, economics always wins. Climate policies must be made compatible with economic growth as a precondition for their success, he writes, and because the world will need more energy in the future, an oblique approach supporting causes, such as developing affordable alternative energy sources rather than consequences, such as controversial schemes like cap-and-trade, is more likely to succeed.

Although some may protest on principle the suggestion that we accept the inevitability of energy growth, Pielke’s focus on adaptation to climate change refreshingly sidesteps the unending debate over the reality of anthropogenic climate change, and opens up the possibility for effective action that places human dignity and democratic ideals at the center of climate policies.

The book is available at Amazon.com and I think it is destined to be a best seller in the “Global Warming” category.

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88 thoughts on “The Climate Fix is "in"

  1. Finally, some critical and clear thinking which proposes incentive and economically sound solutions to our future energy needs. I’ll be ordering my copy today.

  2. It should be clearer that the description of the book is by the publisher, from the Amazon page, not written by Anthony (or so I assume!). And the Publisher’s Weekly quote should be set apart from Anthony’s own comment at the end.
    Sorry to nitpick, but not making authorship clear is a frequent source of confusion on this otherwise excellent blog. It’s not hard to do with careful use of quote marks, indentation, type changes, etc.
    /Mr Lynn

  3. Climate policies must be made compatible with economic growth as a precondition for their success,
    And not the voodoo economics of the “green” jobs that the administration is pushing. Paying $500k per job is not economically viable.

  4. Phil, thats sort of what I was thinking too.
    Climate alarmists have been claiming to understand basic economics for decades now. There seems to be a more conciliatory tone here, but the message is the same so I’m not impressed. They still want to control the economy according to their ideals, nothing new for me to see here.

  5. Growth of energy production is a given for progress—it should not be feared, but desired—and bringing the undeveloped countries up to our level. Then there will be the wealth and resources to fix environmental damage and ameliorate future damage, just as we are doing today in the developed countries.
    We will not be using carbon for major energy eventually as we move to newer and better nuclear power for our industrial energy. Nuclear is the most environmentally friendly as it will have the least footprint and the new systems are orders of magnitude safer than they were/are and the current generation actually has a very good record in the US. Chernobyl is the outlier as its designed truly sucked, being built effectively out of charcoal and set to become a bonfire upon meltdown. Three Mile Island was a success with no injuries and good containment, despite the alarmists pretending that it was a disaster.

  6. David is correct in my opinion. Some environmental legislation has gone beyond rationality, sending jobs to China, doing far more environmental damage.

  7. IMHO, The deep greens & “watermelons” won’t like this as AGW has been purely a political / psychological item for them (either consciously or sub-consciously) since the beginning of the concept. The concept of AGW touched something in them that appealed to some deep sense of guilt & that we must atone for our sins . Suggesting that we should allow energy growth of any kind will get the same reception as suggesting GHG’s may not be the monster problem Mann, Gore, Hansen & company suggests.
    This reaction by AGW supporters is predictable. It is also predictable that the AGW blogs will lash out at Pielke with multiple ad homs, which will only further weaken their case & show the world that they had little of substance behind their argument all along.
    Watch it happen, folks!
    It is a shame because it is apparent that both Pielke’s are level-headed academics, trying to do quality work, free of politics. At the end of the day, that is what we should want from all researchers. Yet, this work will be derided for not following the AGW gospel. Sad.

  8. Climate policies must be made compatible with economic growth as a precondition for their success, he writes, and because the world will need more energy in the future, an oblique approach supporting causes, such as developing affordable alternative energy sources rather than consequences, such as controversial schemes like cap-and-trade, is more likely to succeed.

    To which I can’t help but reply with the classic line that “Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever on a finite planet is either a madman or an economist”.

  9. Common sense? I thought that was long lost. Well welcome back old freind!
    Welcome politicians, tie up your high-horses in the back, have your servants turn off the supercomputers for a spell, grab yourself a cup of coffee and let’s sit down and talk some real turkey, partner.
    But do they still know how to read, speak, and understand common sense?
    Professor Pielke, can’t wait to read it. Long, long overdue.

  10. GM says:
    September 13, 2010 at 8:30 pm
    To which I can’t help but reply with the classic line that “Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever on a finite planet is either a madman or an economist”.

    How many times do we have to tell you that it’s not a “finite planet.”? Nothing is a resource until the mind of man makes it one, and the raw materials, both living and non-living, for creating resources are for all practical purposes unlimited. Then there is the rest of the Solar System, ripe for the taking.
    In another thread you opined loudly that it was not economical to mine the asteroids and the other planets, which is true—for the present. If the neo-Luddites do not stop progress in its tracks and return us to the Dark Ages, one day that bounty will also be ours.
    /Mr Lynn

  11. In general I am far less impressed with Pielke Jr. than I am with Pielke Sr.
    The message I get (right or wrong) is something along the lines of “Well, why don’t we all just agree that man is heating up the atmosphere with CO2 and it’s a problem. We just don’t agree on what we should do about it”.
    I actually believe it is theoretically possible that mankind’s emissions of CO2 MIGHT cause some very slight warming of the atmosphere many, many years in the the future…if nothing else changes and we continue to produce and use energy decades in the future the same way we do today. What I can’t accept is the caveat at the end of the previous sentence. One would expect our average life expectancy to remain at 61 years if nothing else had changed since 1935.
    I don’t believe we have any reliable measure of temperature except for the very short satellite data that exists. In short, I have seen no compelling evidence to even accept the premise that mankind’s emissions of CO2 are causing ANY change in global temperature. This issue is steeped in politics and is very light on empirical science. I remain unconvinced that there is any legitimate need to “fix” anything in terms of CO2. There is no reason to compromise until the believers in AGW actually prove their case.

  12. Pielke Jr. is still a “believer”. He just wants to emphasize adaptation and alternative energy schemes, for the sake of decarbonization, over punitive measures such as carbon taxes and cap and trade.
    While governments should always be ready to protect infrastructure and respond to large scale natural events like floods and hurricanes it is folly to seek to eliminate carbon fuels if they are economically superior and abundant for the sake of appeasing the carbonphobes.
    Color me unimpressed.

  13. RE: GM’s classic line about exponential growth
    Cute. And as I wrote the other day: “Colorful writing is not necessarily good writing.”
    Why not tell us what is bothering you? What exponential growth are you talking about? Perhaps recent fuel production from microbes. Perhaps growth in wind energy. And just because something is cute and quotable doesn’t make it brilliant. If you have a truth to tell, tell it in simple and direct words and let it stand on its own merits. Best to take your cute and (non)classic line and “ x up a rope” for all anyone cares. And that is a classic line which is why I don’t have to explain it.

  14. Mr Lynn says:
    To which I can’t help but reply with the classic line that “Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever on a finite planet is either a madman or an economist”.

    Did I mention the word “madman”? In the same thread it was explained to you that the energy cost of mining asteroids is such that it will first, always be uneconomical to mine them (filtering sea water makes more energetic sense), second, on a BAU technological development path, it will be likely centuries before we are able to do so (even with the extremely large net energy loss), and third, you can not mine asteroids for energy/negative entropy, and there is no substitute for that.
    The above is dictated by the laws of physics, the denial/complete lack of understanding of which seems to be a common diseases afflicting the minds of the posters here. No technological progress can get you past the laws of physics. Something that only a madman (or an economist) will not recognize

    If the neo-Luddites do not stop progress in its tracks and return us to the Dark Ages, one day that bounty will also be ours.

    I find it particularly amusing that the people who warn about the limits to growth all come from highly technical backgrounds, thus calling them neo-Luddites (and coming from people from economic, i.e. non-technical, background most of the time) is deeply ironic…

  15. John F. Hultquist says:
    September 13, 2010 at 8:56 pm
    Why not tell us what is bothering you? What exponential growth are you talking about? Perhaps recent fuel production from microbes. Perhaps growth in wind energy. And just because something is cute and quotable doesn’t make it brilliant. If you have a truth to tell, tell it in simple and direct words and let it stand on its own merits. Best to take your cute and (non)classic line and “ x up a rope” for all anyone cares. And that is a classic line which is why I don’t have to explain it.

    As I said, the lack of respect for the laws of physics and the inability to apply proper reasoning and to work with numbers is a common disorder here. You seem to suffer from it too. If you didn’t you would have noticed the discrepancy between what has to be replaced in terms of energy production, the time scale on which this has to happen, the starting position of wind power, its growth rates and the time this growth rate has to be sustained over. In the previous thread it was mentioned (not by me) that the US alone has to build more than 500 wind turbines every day for the next few decades to make up the shortfall of conventional fossil fuel sources due to depletion.
    Biofuels are much worse because in addition to their miserable EROEI, unless you close the nutrient cycle, something that absolutely nobody is talking about when the topic is discussed (why would they, ecology, who cares…), so it is not at all on the minds of people, they are a recipe for ecological disaster. Whether it is microbes, corn, sugar cane, cellulose, whatever. And they make (and never will make) absolutely no sense energetically – biofuels are converted sunlight, the theoretical limit of photosynthesis efficiency is by a few percent lower than the most efficient solar panels, so you’re always better off with those. And you still require absurdly large areas for that, at present levels of energy demand, i.e. not accounting for future growth.
    Again, economist or madman…

  16. GM, you don’t like the current status quo and you also don’t have faith in the alternative energy options? What is your point then, are you just advocating population statis or population reduction?

  17. GM,
    Please note that in response to my previous comment you make statements about wind and bio that I entirely agree with. I was questioning what sort of exponential growth your first comment was addressing. Is someone actually claiming human population will do that? If so maybe they haven’t heard of the “demographic transition” of developing societies. Maybe they don’t realize many countries do not now have populations that are replacing themselves. Is someone claiming humans are on an exponential trajectory of fossil fuel use? Again, that makes no sense.
    So, briefly, what exactly is it about this post that caused you to make the statement you did? You, Mr. Lynn, and I have now written more words here than the original post and I still don’t know. This post is a short introduction to a book. There are these phrases:
    “and because the world will need more energy in the future”; and
    “the suggestion that we accept the inevitability of energy growth”
    Are these the ideas you object to?

  18. @ John F. Hultquist:
    There two kinds of growth: population (P) and per capita environmental impact (AT), which are the two components of the I=PAT equation. If the I exceeds the long-terms carrying capacity of the environment (planet in our case), we’re in trouble. And that’s determined by the Liebig law which states that for an organism or a population, the one limiting factor among the many that it requires for growth is the one that’s in shortest supply.
    It is the total of population and per capita consumption that one has to look at. The demographic transition will never occur because the resources necessary for those countries to become rich do not exist, but even if we suppose that population stabilizes, per capita consumption will never do so without major societal reorganization because our whole socioeconomic system is organized around economic growth; without it collapses. But you can’t have economic growth without per capita consumption growth (no matter what anyone tells you about decoupling of growth from material consumption, nobody has found a way to do that, even the computers often given as an example for that use an awful lot of mineral resources and energy to build and run). So the total I quantity will keep growing even if P was stabilized. Given that currently I is estimated to be 1.4 times the carrying capacity of the environment, and that’s without accounting for Peak Oil and the depletion of various other mineral resources, you can figure out what we’re headed for.

  19. Eric Anderson says:
    September 13, 2010 at 10:09 pm
    GM, you don’t like the current status quo and you also don’t have faith in the alternative energy options? What is your point then, are you just advocating population statis or population reduction?

    You misrepresent what I was saying. The alternative energy option can not replace what we are getting from fossil fuels. That doesn’t mean they should be abandoned, it meas that we should get our energy consumption within what is reasonably possible to get out of those sources while we work on finding other more concentrated sources of energy. We need to buy ourselves time – if this civilization fail catastrophically, it is game over for the whole planet (the most frightening answer to the Fermi paradox is that all intelligent life tends to do what we are doing right now and self destructs before it ever gets to be heard outside of the confines of its solar system).
    Ultimately there are two main sources of energy we can rely on in the long run:
    1. Energy flows from the sun and from the Earth’s core (the latter is likely to be smaller than the former). You can count wind towards that category too because it is to a large extent converted solar energy. The problem with those is that they are very diffuse and are ultimately very limited (fantasies about Dyson spheres aside).
    2. There is a lot of very concentrated energy locked up in matter. Currently we have conventional nuclear energy, but this is very limited too; breeder and thorium reactors would buy us more time but there are a lot of technical hurdles to be overcome before those become reality, and it is not at all certain that this is even practically possible. All of that applies to a much larger extent to fusion. Of course if someone could find a way to produce anti-matter without the hugely negative EROEI (and the corresponding $25million a gram price tag), that would go a long way towards solving the problem, but this seems even theoretically impossible at this point.
    So the energy (even though I maintain that it is always much more useful to think in terms of entropy, because this encompasses the mineral resources we use too) we can rely on in the long term is very very limited, and this means growth has to end or we will crash very hard and never recover. Not only that, given that we are already in drastic overshoot, growth has to be reversed, and if want people to live comfortable lifestyles this means both reduction of population and limiting non-essential consumption

  20. I read the above post an I’m bemused.
    Did “climatologers” even remotely think they would approach the electorate to make significant demands for painful changes in lifestyle without an absolutely watertight case?
    Or did they foolishly convince themselves that they had a watertight case only to find their arguments falling apart in the adversarial court of public opinion.
    Either way, they have been exceptionally foolish by winding up the political establishment. I would prefer to watch them accept due consequences as a lesson to others not to abuse the good name of science.
    This looks like an attempt to shift ground, to try to save face and mitigate losses. I’m not impressed – climotologers would just take the bitter tasting medicine that is due for the implementation of damaging legislation that has already occurred.

  21. “So the energy… we can rely on in the long term is very very limited, and this means growth has to end or we will crash very hard and never recover. Not only that, given that we are already in drastic overshoot, growth has to be reversed, and if want people to live comfortable lifestyles this means both reduction of population and limiting non-essential consumption”
    well, credibility of panic mongers is very limited and this means that crisis fatigue has set in big-time and it’s boring beyond endurance. Not only that, given that doomsday rhetoric and caricature of the loony sandwich-board doom-prophet are having less and less effect in the hands of every semi-hemi-demagogue with a keyboard, the population of gurus is in overshoot, their decline is ineluctable, and if sanity is to restored, it’s an essential extinction.

  22. GM Says: It is the total of population and per capita consumption that one has to look at. The demographic transition will never occur because the resources necessary for those countries to become rich do not exist
    How do you know these resources do not exist? We have had that discussion before.
    Economical factors are the only thing that hampers energy usage and I would argue as well overall population.
    yet here you go again looking into your crystal ball talking about or we will crash very hard and never recover.
    Science please. I see very little of it except from what I assume is malthus type equations which never work out in the real world since economics tends to trump malthus type equations. We can argue this philosophy all we want, but the burden on proving doom and gloom is on you. Many people before you have worn “less comfortable” sackcloth and worn much better “the end is near” signs.

  23. GM says:
    September 13, 2010 at 8:30 pm
    To which I can’t help but reply with the classic line that “Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever on a finite planet is either a madman or an economist”.

    There are so many problems with this line it is hard to know where to start.
    First, although our planet is finite, many of the materials we use to make goods are effectively infinite resources. For example, iron or aluminum. The quantities of such materials in the earth is so great that we have no prospect of using them up in the lifetime of the solar system.
    Second, we do not in fact consume any of these materials. They are transformed from one form to another. None of them leave the planet.
    Third, as societies become wealthier, they get better at making more valuable things from the same materials. Thus more value (and hence economic growth) can be created from the same inputs.
    Finally, economic growth can continue simply because as people become wealthier, they start to value non-material things more highly. Hence we now have the concept of intellectual property, which would have been meaningless in former eras. Even in Australia, supposedly just a mine for the rest of the world, 70% of GDP is produced in the services sector.

  24. How can it be that an old family doctor with interests in geology, astronomy and marine biology is aware that the greenhouse gas chosen by Earth is water vapour 73% while a professor writing a book does not have this basic knowledge. Methane and Carbon Dioxide come in at 3% each. The reason CO2 variations do not matter is that the absorption bands for infrared are fully saturated. The book “Cool It” by Bjorn Lomborg shows how a little free trade would give nations enough cash to deal with climate changes. He makes no claim to scientific expertise but quietly sinks Al Gore with a few simple illustrations. Read it first. Geoff Broadbent Old North Queensland Doctor

  25. Alex Heyworth said on The Climate Fix is “in”
    September 13, 2010 at 11:53 pm
    First, although our planet is finite, many of the materials we use to make goods are effectively infinite resources. For example, iron or aluminum. The quantities of such materials in the earth is so great that we have no prospect of using them up in the lifetime of the solar system.

    Did you read what I said above about Liebig’s law? Apparently not.

    Second, we do not in fact consume any of these materials. They are transformed from one form to another. None of them leave the planet.

    In the process, however, they get from a low entropy (high-grade ore) to a high entropy (dissolved in the ocean, for example) state. In order to reverse that, you need a lot of negative entropy, which is in short supply.

    Third, as societies become wealthier, they get better at making more valuable things from the same materials. Thus more value (and hence economic growth) can be created from the same inputs.

    Finally, economic growth can continue simply because as people become wealthier, they start to value non-material things more highly. Hence we now have the concept of intellectual property, which would have been meaningless in former eras. Even in Australia, supposedly just a mine for the rest of the world, 70% of GDP is produced in the services sector.

    And as societies become wealthier, they start eating more meat, buying electornic toys, going on vacation to the Hawaii, and other such activities that ultimately increase their per capita resource consumption. Again, show me an example of society that had actually decreased its per capita consumption by becoming wealthier. Do not give me an example of a single area where some small efficiencies improvements have been introduced, give me an example of a society that has lowered it’s total environmental footprint. It doesn’t exist because it never happens.
    Again, economist or madman

  26. Ben D. said on The Climate Fix is “in”
    September 13, 2010 at 11:51 pm
    How do you know these resources do not exist? We have had that discussion before.

    Because only the energy needed for that in 2050 will be 4 or 5 times the current energy consumption. Care to elaborate where it is going to come from when in the same time, Peak Oil, Gas, Uranium and Coal are going to hit in that order?

  27. Yet another post pushing the premise that man’s emissions are definitely causing the earth to warm, no mistaking, so lets put another brick on top of the foundations and ask everyone what colour to paint it.
    Pielke and the other luke-warmers are just a tool of the Climate Change brigade.
    The publishers description easily confused as an Amazon review is bare faced cheek. Why would this site use the book’s advert and not an impartial review. This would never have been done on the old WUWT. Just a week or so now feels like a lifetime away.
    Are we supposed to not notice what is happening here?

    • Philip Thomas
      This fear of yours that there has been some sort of manipulative sea change in WUWT is unfounded. The Pielke’s have always been respected and given a forum here. Anthony is at the helm. If you don’t like the tone of the articles then wait around, there will be some you do like.

  28. Unlike most even here, I’m not polarizing into “for GM” or “against GM”. I think there are important issues on both sides.
    Remember the Haber process? Used to fix nitrogen, a staple of our current fertilizer production. That was invented by Germans in WWI – an invention that happened under a state of duress because there was a need. Many other major inventions have happened under similar circumstances. Sure, the last thing one can do is predict inventions, or assume that inventive capacity is infinite and accessible on demand. But challenges do have ways of eventually being met.
    Following the challenges of the Industrial Revolution, town sewers were built, the understanding of sepsis and cleanliness and pasteurization and vaccination grew to protect health, railways brought the countryside back within romantic reach of city dwellers again, wages went up, the Methodist church arose to cope with the alcoholism following the inner disruption of moving to cities, education improved by leaps and bounds, finally the Clean Air acts were passed… The major indication of success was demographic – population increase.
    Now the population has increased so much, and life has continued to change and globalize so much, there are new challenges that the negative sides of global changes bring up (overpopulation, exhaustion of nonrenewable resources, pollution, technologically advanced warfare, terrorism, control by the banking elites, etc).
    We should not forget the huge and continuing improvements in both quality and quantity and length of human life in the last century, owed to human inventiveness, decency, creativity, and respect for life.
    But neither should we forget the sudden escalations of problems into global warfare and fundamentalisms that “divide and rule”. Winston Churchill was laughed out of court… until Hitler became very real.
    So I think there are elements of truth on GM’s side (the pessimist projections of straight bookkeeping, and the new-ish global possibilities of catastrophically multiplying sudden collapse) and elements of falsity (the neglect of creative potential, much of which can already be found, much of which can clearly be developed further if the situation of dire need provokes sufficient support eg thorium reactors).
    GM does not perhaps realize that most of those here also see the same facts as GM sees but draw different conclusions eg
    * the population curve working out in practice not exponential but S-shaped;
    * agriculture could be developed to sustain a far bigger global population if all the orthodox and unorthodox creative possibilities already known were developed;
    * we need to proactively find ways of cooperating rather than competing because war is the single item that bankrupts wealth most rapidly.
    Can I suggest that we could start that process of cooperation right here, with discovering where GM and others AGREE? then it might be a lot easier to see where both the pessimists and the optimists, both the apocalyptic liberal dreamers and the practical economic realists have important and complementary contributions. At present there is so much ding-dong and then the science itself suffers.

  29. Charles Higley says:
    September 13, 2010 at 8:04 pm
    Chernobyl is the outlier as its designed truly sucked, being built effectively out of charcoal and set to become a bonfire upon meltdown.
    I agree with your comment about nuclear (e.g. 4th generation) being the logical future for at least baseline electricity generation.
    There is a great book you may have read by Zhores Medvedev, “The Legacy of Chernobyl” that gives a detailed account from the inside of the series of events – principally politically driven – that led to the Chernobyl accident. Gross human error was at the heart of it. The design used graphite as the neutron moderator – graphite is the best moderator and also maximises the yield of plutonium, which the military periodically creamed off. Thus the RBMK design had partly military objectives. The design as such (apart from being a charcoal bonfire as you say) was not too bad, it took a series of stupendously stupid decisions to precipitate the meltdown.

  30. Slightly O/T but this from the Daily Telegraph:
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/8000350/Arctic-fox-joins-polar-bear-on-new-list-of-Arctic-species-in-danger-of-extinction.html
    Plus ca change; plus c’est la meme chose comes to mind!
    Reply: It’s seriously off topic, but I’m not deleting so I can quote the article for the major funny.

    Sea ice in the Arctic fell to its lowest level since records began in 2007 and scientists predict the area could be largely ice free in summer within 10 years.

    ack ~ ctm

  31. Mr. Lynn says:
    “not making authorship clear is a frequent source of confusion on this otherwise excellent blog”

    Yes.

  32. Jeff L says:
    “IMHO, The deep greens & “watermelons” won’t like this as AGW has been purely a political / psychological item for them (either consciously or sub-consciously) since the beginning of the concept…”
    Dead right! The whole global warming fraud is nothing but the drip-drip-drip brainwashing of the public by every organ of the state and the mass media combined. They have conjured out of thin air (ha!) a whole lexicon (or should that be lexi-con?) of global warming jargon with which we are so familiar; the “carbon footprint” the “ocean acidification” etc., and they’ve invented scores of icons and symbols to associate with these false concepts; the polar bear, the “melting” ice-caps, extreme weather events, and the latest desperate “let’s throw in some starving Africans” pictures to try to prop up their miserable lying propaganda.
    In spite of the billions spent, there’s still not an atom of evidence that the Earth’s climate has been, or will ever be, altered by any human activity short of nuclear war. Hence the need for all the brainwashing: to get the public to “see” something that isn’t there (and never existed), and so succumb to policies based upon that fantasy.

  33. “charles the moderator says:
    September 14, 2010 at 2:10 am
    Philip Thomas
    This fear of yours that there has been some sort of manipulative sea change in WUWT is unfounded. The Pielke’s have always been respected and given a forum here. Anthony is at the helm. If you don’t like the tone of the articles then wait around, there will be some you do like.”
    The use of the Publishers blurb is a completely new approach by WUWT. I welcome articles from all corners of the debate so long as they are fair and balanced. It is the tone of this site that has seperated it from the others and it is the tone that I believe is changing. I will wait; I have done for some time now. Nothing has caught my interest intelectually since Thomas Fuller began to use too many words to say nothing. Suprise me – please.

  34. I see that GM is attempting another thread hijack to his / her favorite Panic Attack. Having carefully ignored all the evidence to the contrary presented in response to prior such rants. To spare folks who DID read it the first dozen times, I’ll not repeat it all, and the links to references, simply give the high points of the results. The super short form is:
    1) Meadows et.al. is a broken argument based on false assumptions.
    2) We have effectively infinite energy available to us.
    3) That means we can do effectively infinite material transformations, we never ‘run out’ of stuff.
    4) The whole planet is a resource. The tons per person is astounding.
    5) Real populations do not do exponential growth, they do S shaped, so all the exponential paranoia is just that.
    6) Technology is your friend.
    7) The sizing is such that we might need to worry about where we are on the S shaped curve in about 500 years or so.
    GM says: To which I can’t help but reply with the classic line that “Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever on a finite planet is either a madman or an economist”.
    I’m an economist. I’d suggest you learn some of it too. One of the things we have to study is Malthus (one of the founding lights of economics and why it is called The Dismal Science). So right off the bat, your putting ‘economist’ as a contra position to Malthusian doctrine is about as bass-ackward as you can get. Then we have to learn a great deal about population dynamics and demographics. You might want to learn a bit too.
    So in response to your “classic” I’ll give you a “modern” understanding. ALL biological populations follow an S shaped growth curve, not an exponential.
    Take a basic biology class ( I recommend bacteriology) and you will be taught this.
    The reason it tops out can be any of several; from predators growing apace to evolution of new diseases or even just eventually reaching a ‘carrying capacity’ limit of food, shelter, or environmental degradation. But that is not a disaster, just a natural limit to the growth rate.
    Given the relative evolution rates of bacteria and people and our growth rate, the most likely limit on US will be antibiotic resistant bacteria. News tonight had a new ‘gene packet’ identified that gives just about any bacteria resistance to almost all present antibiotics. Cases identified in several US states with all individuals having come from India, where it is much more common. So long before we hit any ‘resource limits’ (which is itself an oxymoron) we will start dropping like flies from our old causes: TB, Staph, Strep, Plague, etc. as they join MRSA in the antibiotic proof group. As bacteria swap “plasmids” across species, these genes will fairly rapidly come to be widespread.
    So take what joy you may ( knowing that the “doom and gloomers” are only really happy with a looming disaster of death and destruction) from the knowledge that we are on the cusp of losing the race of new antibiotics vs bacterial evolution and billions will die. Hopefully this new found source of worry will let you let go of the pointless and irrelevant resource limit panic.
    I’ve done the S shaped growth experiment with several species personally. Many bacterial cultures. Some snails. Fish especially. Had a 250 gallon tilapia tank I let free run. The fish ended up stopping growth at about 4 inches instead of 14 inches, and I got more but smaller fish. Eventually the number also stabilized at a very high population density. BUT stop it did.
    So please please please: Put down the “Limits to Growth” as it is horridly flawed.
    Forget about the ‘exponential growth’. It is a LIE. A broken assumption that is not real. A falsehood. And irrelevant to the real world.
    I can make a fine house out of trash and dirt. (“Earthship”; links in the link I posted earlier that you seem to have ignored). I don’t think we’re in danger of running out of trash and dirt any time soon. It is fully self supporting for water, energy, and waste recycle. We can grow many more tons of food than at present IFF we ever need to (but we don’t) with examples like Rice Intensification waiting in the wings with 4 x to 9x potential (demonstrated) yield improvements.
    We can make beams and wall board of of straw (that we burn, trash, feed to cows, or plough under today). We can ECONOMICALLY extract U from sea water and the amount that washes into the sea is more each year than needed to power the whole planet. We don’t do it as the land sources are a bit cheaper. We run out of energy when we run out of planet. And with energy we can do everything else.
    So please memorize these words: “Don’t PANIC”.
    Panic is a very bad strategy for problem solving and clouds ones ability to think.

  35. Excerpt from: Charles Higley on September 13, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    Chernobyl is the outlier as its designed truly sucked, being built effectively out of charcoal and set to become a bonfire upon meltdown.

    Graphite is used for crucibles for molten steel, which may be wholly made of graphite (smaller ones) or graphite may be a lining material (industrial size). It takes a lot to get it burning, and as with the slightly-better-burning next-lowest form of carbon, anthracite coal (diamond being next-highest), without a substantial continual supply of fresh air it tends to go out leaving behind an unburned portion.
    Chernobyl’s design sucked for many reasons, but the use of graphite in and of itself wasn’t one of them.
    Meanwhile in reactor designs and other industrial processes, liquid sodium is used as a coolant, sodium is even used inside the stems of engine valves for better heat transfer. And you know what happens when sodium is exposed to air or dropped in water…

  36. GM. I read your posts and your replies and feel nothing but sadness, your total lack of faith in the human race is a despair to the soul.
    Nineteenth century scientists were of the consensus that all had been discovered and only needed expanding for full understanding of all things. Science can be blind for it was proved beyond scientific doubt that heavier than air machines could never fly.
    Meantime everyday seeing birds and insects proving them wrong. Who would have thought in the nineteen seventies that GM and all of us could discus issues of world importance in real time from all over the world,, from our little screen at home. The inventiveness of man will overcome all obstacles when the need arises and shortages will become an opportunity for inventive change.
    The more we learn, the larger the horizon of the unknown becomes, our knowledge in the twenty first century still makes us babes in the woods. Many surprises await us in all branch’s of knowledge for we have yet only scratched the surface all of our sciences are riddled with anomolies
    GM the world is filled with impossible possibilities that will one day be every day such as your internet.

  37. From: E.M.Smith on September 14, 2010 at 2:53 am

    So please memorize these words: “Don’t PANIC”.
    Panic is a very bad strategy for problem solving and clouds ones ability to think.

    After observing GM’s modus operandi, I can see the distinction needs to be made between those who panic and those who seek to utilize the panic of others.
    😉

  38. GM says:
    September 13, 2010 at 9:34 pm
    “[…]I find it particularly amusing that the people who warn about the limits to growth all come from highly technical backgrounds, ”
    The Club Of Rome? Paul Ehrlich? Are you kidding?

  39. @Lucy Skywalker:
    I’m neither pro nor anti GM. I’m pro-truth. And there are clearly demonstrated and working at present technologies that give us near infinite energy available. That puts the nail in the ‘running out’ coffin. There are clearly working at present food production systems and home building systems and… {very long list left out…} that put the lie to the ‘running out of stuff’ meme. One simply MUST have basic facts right before attempting to predict what the future will hold. So as soon as GM has a grip in the reality of what technology is already doing, I’ll be more than happy to explore where there might be some interesting extrapolation that is made from there. Until that point, it’s just an exercise in getting them up to speed on what has already been solved; often in a dozen different ways.
    GM says: Did I mention the word “madman”? In the same thread it was explained to you that the energy cost of mining asteroids is such that it will first, always be uneconomical to mine them (filtering sea water makes more energetic sense),
    Also incredibly wrong. Once you have a small colony in space, out of the gravity well, dropping materials in is almost free. Especially energetically. There is already in existence a project evaluation of taking a ‘nickel iron’ asteroid and shaping it into a triangle airfoils shape with solar heating, then deorbiting it. (The technically inclined will recognize ‘nickel iron’ as ‘stainless steel’). Not only is the energy required vastly less than that needed to mine and refine iron and nickel then make stainless steel, but the economics are incredibly good as well.
    The biggest problem? ONE such deorbit load is a one year supply of stainless steel and would ‘crash’ the world price so low as to destroy the market.
    It really does pay to do a bit of library work prior to ranting about what can’t be done… This particular plan was developed by the Japanese, IIRC. BTW, the present work on SSTO vehicles is looking to drop the cost to orbit per pound by about an order of magnitude, with more after that possible. We could do it today if we wanted to, with existing technology.
    you can not mine asteroids for energy/negative entropy, and there is no substitute for that.
    Um, and you know there is zero uranium and thorium in space how? I’d expect it to be about as common as it is on earth. Not to mention all the solar harvesting plans. The energy density in sunshine in space is rather high.

    The above is dictated by the laws of physics, the denial/complete lack of understanding of which seems to be a common diseases afflicting the minds of the posters here.

    Oh please, lose the ad-hom attacks. There are more technical masters and Ph.Ds per capita here than I care to think about. I’ve had a collection of classes from the Engineering College at University prior to settling on Economics and have a teaching credential in Data Processing (along with a Math award and several years of math classes). Including a couple of years of physics classes and a rather fascinating Geology of the Solar System class. You seem to have no clue about the level of education here, especially considering that I’m one of the lesser lettered folks.

    No technological progress can get you past the laws of physics. Something that only a madman (or an economist) will not recognize

    Did you flunk an econ class or something? Where does your hatred of economists come from? No, no, don’t tell me… FWIW, economists are widely employed in agriculture and factories doing something called “linear programming” as a part of process optimization. Often the title is “Manager” rather than Economist, though. They MUST be familiar with what is achievable with the technology, and what is not. I had a whole class devoted to just that kind of problem. Looking at choices between different production paths and calculating the one with the best return. Many (maybe most) “agri-business” has a “farmer” with an Ag-Econ degree running the place and deciding how to most profitably make your food. Biology and chemistry figure highly in their training. And yes, even understanding ‘the laws of physics’ especially as applied to land, tractors, harvesters, trucks, fuel, sprays, freezing, thawing, weather, …

    I find it particularly amusing that the people who warn about the limits to growth all come from highly technical backgrounds, thus calling them neo-Luddites (and coming from people from economic, i.e. non-technical, background most of the time) is deeply ironic…

    And I find it astounding that you actually believe that.
    Look, most of the “Technology will free us” folks are Engineers. Not Economists.
    As I mentioned before, Malthus IS an economist and his doctrine is REQUIRED reading in Economics training. Often it takes years for Econ majors to grow out of that indoctrination and many never do. You have this spectacularly backwards. It is the non-tech folks who moan in their latte about doom. It’s the tech folks who tout Tech as the cure all. (I’m the odd bit as I’m some of each, trained in both).
    GM says: You misrepresent what I was saying. The alternative energy option can not replace what we are getting from fossil fuels.
    And once again, spectacularly wrong. We can easily (though not cheaply) replace all fossil fuels with “alternative energy”. It is just too expensive to be worth it at present. A couple of examples (that you would already have seen had you read the link I posted): California can get ALL its electric energy needs from a 10 x 100 mile wave bobber farm off the coast. Make that 10 x 200 if you want to power all the oil driven transport too. The coastline is way longer than 200 miles. (And the bobbers are spaced such as to not hinder life at all). Demonstration plant being installed in Hawaii for the Navy and a few bobbers going in off N. California already.
    ALL of the USA can be powered by a solar farm in the Mojave of about 100 x 100 miles. The country is about 2500 x 1200 miles. Think about it… Oh, and no “Research” is needed to do that. This is based on existing and proven designs. It’s not about the technology, it’s about the linear programming solution that says it costs a bit more. Sterling engine thermal works best, though others can also be built. Thermal has the advantage that heat can be stored for use at night.
    All this and more at:
    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/03/20/there-is-no-energy-shortage/
    What can be done with mud:
    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2010/08/08/everything-from-mud/
    Near Infinite energy supply:
    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/05/29/ulum-ultra-large-uranium-miner-ship/

  40. So, if I get this right…
    To keep the economic engine flowing, we have to go into massive debt to buy this inferior wind and solar technology on the premise of reducing CO2?
    When the science is in question.

  41. ‘Hope Reigns Eternal!!!’ Well, not really.
    Life is so difficult, we have to listen to everyone and make up out own mind every single day.
    ‘It’s always better to listen to an optimist than a pessimist’, said the realist. And then he also said, ‘Of course, sometimes pessimists can say some pretty intelligent things and we should listen to them too.’

  42. Why has the world been unable to address global warming?
    Who says that the World NEEDS to address Globwl Warming?

  43. There is no
    newer and better or cheap nuclear power–
    and it is amazing to watch the spinners
    of nukes (telling you to feel good about nukes) always deftly dancing away from
    gore’s (mr uranium dust)personal connection to GE nukes
    and his family’s historic links to nukes
    (his senator grandfather founded the nukes
    industry in tennessee-you know–TVA)–
    just the facts–not more nuke coolie hot air–
    http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2010/04/after-getting-bailed-out-by-american.html
    leaky yankee nuke pipes
    http://iraqwar.mirror-world.ru/article/228057
    http://iraqwar.mirror-world.ru/article/224327
    http://notsylvia.wordpress.com/2009/10/30/the-origins-of-the-global-warming-scare-2
    trillion dollar loan guarantee to nuke industry
    http://www.psr.org/assets/pdfs/alexander-webb-bill.pdf
    http://alethonews.wordpress.com/2010/02/25/look-out-for-the-nuclear-bomb-coming-with-your-electric-bill/
    http://indymedia.org.nz/article/77839/uranium-dust-gore
    http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/polluted-by-profit-johann-hari-on-the-real-climategate-1978770.html
    http://www.alternet.org/environment/146813/how_global_warming_and_capitalism_are_deeply_intertwined_?page=entire
    leaky yankee nuke pipes
    http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=18951
    http://alethonews.wordpress.com/2010/02/25/2009/12/03/theres-more-to-climate-fraud-than-just-tax-hikes/
    http://nuclear-news.net/2009/06/05/is-nuclear-a-green-fuel-%C2%AB-voices-from-ghana/
    http://nuclear-news.net/
    http://nuclear-news.net/2009/05/06/former-federal-regulator-plans-for-fermi-3-nuclear-reactor-could-lead-to-job-loss/
    http://arizona.indymedia.org/news/2009/10/74943.php
    http://narcosphere.narconews.com/notebook/brenda-norrell/2010/06/popcorn-and-beans-depleted-uranium-and-raytheon
    http://narcosphere.narconews.com/notebook/brenda-norrell/2010/07/racism-irony-and-censorship-trademarks-us-media

  44. The planet is not finite. Nature transforms. Nature is creative. All of human progress has been accompanied by novel ways to transform worthless material into something useful and uplifting. That’s what nature has always done and that is what we must continue to do if we are not gripped by fear and loss of courage. Even the call for green energy is a form of creative repurposing of something worthless into something useful. What happens when you eventually run out of wind and sun because you need more? You invent something more novel and daring, you create more abundance. The direction is always towards more and more, as our imaginations continue to soar. The planet is not finite because our imagination will continue to create. Problems are merely a matter of bad timing and lack of creativity.

  45. I have not read this new book by Roger Pielke, Jr.
    Based on what the lead-in post says about it, I will probably not read it.
    This is because it appears to be just another case of putting politics before objective knowledge of climate reality is obtained. Has anyone read the book? I would be open to being convinced otherwise.
    John

  46. E.M.Smith
    ———–
    So in response to your “classic” I’ll give you a “modern” understanding. ALL biological populations follow an S shaped growth curve, not an exponential.
    Take a basic biology class ( I recommend bacteriology) and you will be taught this.
    ————
    this claim is false. Population dynamics is far more complex than this.
    Historically human populations don’t necessarily follow an S curve either.
    Maybe economists need to broaden their education?

  47. E.M.Smith says: September 14, 2010 at 3:50 am

    Thank you very much. I endorse your point about going for truth. I’ve bookmarked your reply. You’ve now closed all the escape hatches into apocalypticism that I can conceive – at least until I’ve done thorough justice to all your material. And probably beyond. I think I can meanwhile take the line “Chiefio – right until proven wrong”.
    Ah, Chiefio, can you now take on the James Martin 21st Century School at Oxford, and answer their key material?? I see Schellnhuber’s mentioned there. Didn’t look any further.
    I’ve just one thing to thank GM for. That’s thanks for rousing me to think and write, and EMS ditto.

  48. E.M.Smith says
    ————
    Also incredibly wrong. Once you have a small colony in space, out of the gravity well, dropping materials in is almost free. Especially energetically.
    ————
    I hope you’re right, but until I see the figures for this I will assume otherwise. My instincts are saying changing the orbital vector of a big chunk of nickel iron to intersect earth orbit is gonna be expensive.
    Just think about all the whining over the expense of the miserable little space station we have in orbit now.

  49. Thanks for your post, E. M. Smith. I had forgotten the earlier saga. Now I realize that GM is just hobby horse-riding, I will ignore any future comments.

  50. GM says:
    September 13, 2010 at 8:30 pm
    To which I can’t help but reply with the classic line that “Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever on a finite planet is either a madman or an economist”.

    Another ridiculous, tautological straw man. Economics is the study of scarce resources that have alternative uses.

  51. GM while I often agree with you, and I agree that things should be quantified, context is also important. 500 wind turbines a day seems like a big deal. However it comes to less than 200,000 per year, which for an economy that can build 16 million cars trucks and buses a year doesn’t seem so much. In the long run we do not have any energy limitation. We could phase out fossil fuels entirely over a 30 year or so time horizon without strain. We could even phase out nuclear if that made sense, which it probably doesn’t. We probably do have real food limitations due to water and some mineral limitations, but energy is only a matter of will and time.

  52. R. Shearer
    September 13, 2010 at 8:09 pm
    “David is correct in my opinion. Some environmental legislation has gone beyond rationality,”
    Some?

  53. Well,
    1. I’m glad we got this all straightened out!
    2. I thought everyone knew that Publishers Weekly’s mission was to sell books and so didn’t bother to mention it; and
    3. Lucy, your link to the “school” – Thanks, that’s worth following up.
    4. I missed Chiefio’s “Everything From Mud” post last month, so there is proof that I haven’t been keeping up with the reading. Additional proof: I really did not know what GM was alluding to with the first comment and that’s why I prodded for an explanation.
    5. “lesser lettered folks” ?? That woke me up. Good one, E. M.;
    How’s this: E. M. Smith, LLF

  54. E.M.Smith says: September 14, 2010 at 3:50 am
    Good post Chiefio – I’ll take a look at some of your links.
    Incidently, to try and understand where some of these apocalyptic visions come from, I Googled ‘Peak Oil’. I was shocked at what I read. These doomster’s make the AGW people seem complacent. You can find article after article ‘proving’ that oil production will decline in . . . . well, it’s usually about six years from whenever the article was written. All these articles are well written, and contain a lot of technical jargon, like Hubbert curves etc. One even claimed that the Government know we are about to run out but cannot speak the truth for fear of stampeding the financial markets.
    Chiefio, you could think about maybe reading some of that stuff and doing a post – it sure would help some of us more impressionable types to sleep better at night 🙂

  55. E.M.Smith / Jaye Bass / Alex Heyworth / Lucy Skywalker / DirkH / DEEBEE/ kadaka (KD Knoebel) et al;
    The two links below are brilliant sources refuting GM’s claims.
    NOTE: I have been trying to mostly boycott wikipedia [ the William Connolley thing ] but the link to wikipedia I used below has a good treatment of the now famous Simon–Ehrlich wager. Old population/scarcity doom monger Ehrlich lost : ) .
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ultimate_Resource
    http://www.juliansimon.com/writings/Ultimate_Resource/
    John

  56. “The Kardashev scale is a method of measuring an advanced civilization’s level of technological advancement. The scale is only theoretical and in terms of an actual civilization highly speculative; however, it puts energy consumption of an entire civilization in a cosmic perspective. It was first proposed in 1964 by the Soviet Russian astronomer Nikolai Kardashev. The scale has three designated categories called Type I, II, and III. These are based on the amount of usable energy a civilization has at its disposal, and the degree of space colonization. In general terms, a Type I civilization has achieved mastery of the resources of its home planet, Type II of its solar system, and Type III of its galaxy.[1] Science fiction also may expand the scale to Type IV, where a civilization has mastery of the resources of its universe, and sometimes Type V, all the universes.
    The original and the final draft for this particular scale had energy consumptions ranging so widely from each other, that Kardashev himself revised the scale as to include values between, in hundredths. The human civilization as of 2010 is currently somewhere around 0.72, with calculations showing we will reach Type I status around 2100, Type II status around 3100 and Type III status from one hundred thousand to one million years time.” (Wikipedia)
    We are now around 0.72. So we have long road to go to Type II which is only level where we can survive longer than Dinos.
    So GM relax and enjoy interglacial.

  57. From: LazyTeenager on September 14, 2010 at 6:33 am

    I hope you’re right, but until I see the figures for this I will assume otherwise. My instincts are saying changing the orbital vector of a big chunk of nickel iron to intersect earth orbit is gonna be expensive.

    Depends on where and when you change it. We calculate space probe trajectories years in advance, and make mid-course adjustments with small pushes to adjust where they’ll be many months later. If the math is right and the force is applied properly, and you don’t mind waiting awhile, a multi-ton space rock can be set on a collision course with Earth by a blow from a sledgehammer.

    Just think about all the whining over the expense of the miserable little space station we have in orbit now.

    The operative word E.M. Smith used was colony. A colony is a (practically) self-sufficient entity, they’ll be able to mine and grow and generate what they need to survive. The expense of the space station comes from ferrying everything up from Earth. Big Hope #1 is a colony on the Moon, looks like the essentials are there, only the initial base and the processing equipment will be needed. But the occupants will still be tied to Earth, and the interesting stuff is elsewhere. The main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter is the place to be, lots of available resources. Ceres, the dwarf planet, looks to be a good place to set up shop. With just enough gravity to keep things together without it being too hard to get away from, it has a good mix of rocky minerals and water. Available water is important, not only for life but for reaction mass for spacecraft.

  58. In response to the flap over “To GM, or not to GM”
    Believe it or not, I am thankful for GM’s inability to grasp simple concepts, as it has led to Chiefio’s elegant response above. ( E.M.Smith @ September 14, 2010 at 3:50 am ) I too have bookmarked the comment, and have copied it into my “Useful Arguments for Useless Idiots” file for future conflicts. Now I can return to ignoring GM’s diatribes.

  59. GM,
    You said something like, “Just think about all the whining over the expense of the miserable little space station we have in orbit now.”
    Nah, the colonization by mankind beyond old Terra Firma will be by profit making capitalists. : ) The people with money will go along with the paid employees of the space colonization corps. So, no need to worry about the public funding mess.
    Remember, look at what public funding of climate science has wrought, yuck, the destruction of some of the credibility of science.
    Individual people actually have empirical evidence of being smarter and more adaptable than any government.
    John

  60. I don’t think the climate needs a ‘fix’.
    If it’s anything like software, the ‘fix’ will introduce three other bugs, known as ‘features’ to the people who implemented the ‘fix’.
    What ‘features’ will we get as the reult of the climate ‘fix’?

  61. Environmentalists are anti-industrialists, anti-capitalists, and anti-modernists.
    Be they scientists, educators, students, researchers, corporate moguls, artists, or whatever, they are unaware – or worse in denial – of planetary mechanics which solely dictates our climate thru Input Of the Torque (IOT) imposed on the Sun by the Jovian planets (Landscheidt).
    Environmental organizations, in the words of Edwin X. Berry PhD are designed like watermelons: Green on the outside, red on the inside!

  62. Lucy Skywalker says:
    September 14, 2010 at 1:28 am
    Unlike most even here, I’m not polarizing into “for GM” or “against GM”. I think there are important issues on both sides.

    As indeed there are with most issues.
    Remember the Haber process? Used to fix nitrogen, a staple of our current fertilizer production. That was invented by Germans in WWI – an invention that happened under a state of duress because there was a need.
    It was invented pre-war – 1909 or there abouts. Germany could not have fought the war without it being in existence already.
    Following the challenges of the Industrial Revolution, town sewers were built, the understanding of sepsis and cleanliness and pasteurization and vaccination grew to protect health, railways brought the countryside back within romantic reach of city dwellers again, wages went up, the Methodist church arose to cope with the alcoholism following the inner disruption of moving to cities, education improved by leaps and bounds, finally the Clean Air acts were passed… The major indication of success was demographic – population increase.
    And following the demands of the Black Death? Ah yes, we went round whipping ourselves…
    Beware of remembering the successes and forgetting the failures. Medicine is especially good at that. I could start listing them, but I’m sure everyone else has their own favourites.
    * the population curve working out in practice not exponential but S-shaped;
    It is looking exponential in terms of world population.
    http://www.vhemt.org/world.pop.time.jpg
    If I knew how to do in-line images, it would probably help.
    Populatation controlled by an external force goes S shaped. Population controlled by choice looks rather like the graph of x^3.
    You can simulate this by using an Excel model (robust of course… 😉 )
    Have a starting population where 99% of the population have 1 child (per couple), and 1% have 10 children. Then start adding the generations on, and keep adding them If you know spreadsheets, you can parametise the expansion conditions, and experiment with different shapes of graphs.
    A t -> infinity, population growth tends towards the maximum growth rate, no matter how small the initial segment of the population is with that rate.
    * agriculture could be developed to sustain a far bigger global population if all the orthodox and unorthodox creative possibilities already known were developed;
    It could. But there would still be limits, so that’s not solving the problem, but kicking the can down the road. Pulling in anything that is not inexhaustible, will just make the problems worse when the buffers come. That pretty much leaves you with water, sunshine and air. Possibly electricity generated from other sources, but I can’t guarantee that.
    There have been indications that our food is less nutricious than from the 1970’s because of mineral depletion – it has been about 12,000 years since glaciers dragged pulverised rock over thousands of miles to fertilise the ground with minerals, and with modern farming, they may be getting low.
    That’s not proven – but you can dig now (if you pardon the pun).
    * we need to proactively find ways of cooperating rather than competing because war is the single item that bankrupts wealth most rapidly.
    That depends on which side you are, and how you deal with winning.
    Can I suggest that we could start that process of cooperation right here, with discovering where GM and others AGREE? then it might be a lot easier to see where both the pessimists and the optimists, both the apocalyptic liberal dreamers and the practical economic realists have important and complementary contributions. At present there is so much ding-dong and then the science itself suffers.
    Unfortunately, GM has the same bug as the “Team” – the “I’m saving the world” bug. That leads to similar traits such as being a stuck record, and dealing poorly with dissention. I personally do believe there are finite limits to growth, and I can explain where that belief comes about.
    Mathematically it’s not really up for negotiation, timing-wise – there’s everything to play for.
    In any case, what you do about it is your business. I’m not here to save the world.

  63. E.M.Smith says:
    September 14, 2010 at 3:50 am
    Also incredibly wrong. Once you have a small colony in space, out of the gravity well, dropping materials in is almost free.

    Only if your time is free. Your time is not free unless your food is free. If your food is free, why are you messing around with rocks?
    Especially energetically. There is already in existence a project evaluation of taking a ‘nickel iron’ asteroid and shaping it into a triangle airfoils shape with solar heating, then deorbiting it.
    First *find* your ‘nickel iron’ asteroid. There’s a lot of space that consists of…space. Then there’s a lot of space that consists of asteroids made from fairly worthless silica.
    (The technically inclined will recognize ‘nickel iron’ as ‘stainless steel’).
    I recognise chromium and iron as stainless steel – I’m obviously not technologically inclined.
    Not only is the energy required vastly less than that needed to mine and refine iron and nickel then make stainless steel, but the economics are incredibly good as well.
    The biggest problem? ONE such deorbit load is a one year supply of stainless steel and would ‘crash’ the world price so low as to destroy the market.

    The biggest problem is the time it would take. F=d(mv)/dt You need a lot of “spare mass” to throw around in order to get the “useful” mass to the place you want in within a reasonable time-scale.
    I would however, recommend you take your time de-orbiting a year’s supply of stainless steel as the shock-wave from the crater formation would be the thing destroying the market. There’s a limit as to how much mass the atmosphere can make “fly”.
    Um, and you know there is zero uranium and thorium in space how? I’d expect it to be about as common as it is on earth.
    It’s not how common it is on earth, it is how concentrated it is. Earth has water to concentrate minerals. Or magma when it gets desperate.
    OK, sea water disperses minerals, but two-edged swords and all that.

  64. Jaye Bass says:
    September 14, 2010 at 7:34 am
    Another ridiculous, tautological straw man. Economics is the study of scarce resources that have alternative uses.

    So why do they study money?

  65. “According to Pielke, the iron law of climate policy dictates that whenever environmental and economic objectives are placed in opposition to each other, economics always wins. ”
    So how would he explain the great success of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, elimination of lead from gasoline, the huge reduction in the use of CFC’s, RoHS, etc? It seems to me that when the environmentalists can clearly demonstrate the problems of continuing the status quo, they will gain not only popular support but support within the scientific community, and change will come about, even at the expense of economics. The situation is different with AGW, in which the environmentalists may have had some early support, but the evidence that would warrant drastic changes in our economic system (and most likely a sustained drop in our standard of living) does not stand up to scrutiny.

  66. Pielke believes that global warming is real, which is a shame. He also thinks that remedies proposed by advocates have gone too far for the public to accept and sets to work proposing kinder, gentler ways to mitigate. To me spending any money and effort to fight a non-existent threat is totally irresponsible but you can’t say this to a true believer. Don’t forget that Bjørn Lomborg also believed in warming but felt that the way to handle it was to prepare for the warming instead of trying to stop it. He was vilified and threatened by radical advocates of warming for that. I suspect those same people will attack Pielke as well for having come up with a middle course or “Lomborg Lite.” Rather than wasting his effort on books like this he would be better off trying to master the facts on warming. If he reads me he will discover that the anthropogenic global warming has never been observed, that temperature curves from NASA, NOAA, and the Met Office showing it are cooked, and that arctic warming is real but non-carbonaceous and started at the turn of the twentieth century when warm currents began to reach the Arctic. And if he really does his homework he will discover Ferenc Miskolczi’s work with radiosondes which proves that CO2 has not done any greenhouse work for the last 61 years.

  67. LazyTeenager says:
    September 14, 2010 at 6:33 am
    ————
    . . . My instincts are saying changing the orbital vector of a big chunk of nickel iron to intersect earth orbit is gonna be expensive.
    Just think about all the whining over the expense of the miserable little space station we have in orbit now.

    The big expense in space exploration and colonization is the cost of getting out of Earth’s gravity well. Eventually we’ll figure out how to do it cheaply (the Space Elevator is the most exotic, but might be possible within this century), and once we do, “the sky’s the limit.”
    /Mr Lynn

  68. Arno Arrak says:
    September 14, 2010 at 5:19 pm
    . . . If he reads me he will discover that the anthropogenic global warming has never been observed, that temperature curves from NASA, NOAA, and the Met Office showing it are cooked, and that arctic warming is real but non-carbonaceous and started at the turn of the twentieth century when warm currents began to reach the Arctic. . .

    Has Arno Arrak’s work,
    http://www.amazon.com/What-Warming-Satellite-global-temperature/dp/1439264708/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1279741512&sr=8-1
    been discussed here? If not, perhaps it might be worth having him do a lead post, summarizing it.
    /Mr Lynn

  69. 1. Mix Natural Gas with Coal = higher temp = less Soot + effectively, twice the electricity per N. Gas.
    2. LNG Icebreaker-Tankers Sell North Alaska Gas EXCEPT that near the pipeline (which pressures the Oil). To China.
    3. Remaining Soot harvested to provide the Fly-ash for Giga-crete — to build Tankers.
    = Cuts Global Soot in half
    4. New Zealand’s successful “No-Fish” Zones = restore the Balance of boneless/bony Fish = Cheaper Fish
    = Also: 94.6% of the Increase in CO2 will reverse, as bones are Calcium CARBONATE.
    5. All new Homes have Ground Water Heat Pumps (for Military/High Wind/Super-Disease Reasons = provides a Water supply in the basement).
    – – but also uses 15-to-40% the energy of other systems. Legislation for shared wells would make it cheaper to build, as well as run.
    6. Science needs 25 parts per million of GDP per year from 1744. = over Triple what we do now = + $75 B/yr
    >>> This Doubles the Economy in 40 years – – Cost: half a percent of the Economy.
    OR: make 90% of Military Research Public (possible as Anything Specific, today, would be obsolete by the time a Real Threat built up e.g. China — – – the only worthwhile Military R&D $ is: keeping our ECONOMY at a HIGHER TECH Level — so they can’t Catch Up).
    … this was the method used for 160 years, from 1798 when Eli Whitney got a Military Contract for Interchangable Parts, until the A-bomb Secrets Theft persuaded Ike to Classify everything. Note he precisely MATCHED the Classified R&D – – 0.5% of GDP – – with new, Civilian Science – – lest Real Growth, go to near Zero.
    Which it has
    save for Population Growth (including Illegals).
    Since the early 1970s, Except for the High Tech Revolution 1992-8.
    Basically Bush #1 .. PAID for that, by tripling NASA Space Science.
    Clinton looked “Lucky”, even if the Growth began before his election & ended 2 years before he Left. So he could NOT have caused it, & did … kill it.
    This reinforced the Lesson of Nixon greeting the Moon Landers = JFK paid for it, Nixon gets the credit.:
    Politicians learned THIS Lesson:
    Anything for the Future = it takes too long = you only MAKE YOUR SUCCESSOR LOOK GOOD.
    But nothing BIG can be done Instantly.
    So we are DOOMED.
    Debt, AGW, a Super-disease from an Enemy, China Passing us in Tech …
    We are doing Nothing about ANYTHING.
    It used to be the Republicans BUILT things, but Anarchists ate the GOP.
    It’s only a matter of which DOOM catches us first.

  70. John F. Hultquist says:
    5. “lesser lettered folks” ?? That woke me up. Good one, E. M.;
    How’s this: E. M. Smith, LLF

    Mikey Likey 😉
    I actually have a few other letters I can add after my name if I was “into” that. A Doctorate of Divinity (cost me $20 😉 Yes, when other folks were just getting the free ‘Minister’ I did the hard work of going for the Doctorate. Added application AND writing a check! Then I can have “CDP” as I did the (actual work) and testing for that professional credential in Data Processing.
    So I’m E.M.Smith, A.B., CDP, DD, LLF
    and of all of them, I think I like the LLF the most 😉
    I occasionally think I ought to get a Ph.D. in something (earned) just to feel like I’m not not being lazy… but it’s getting a bit late in the game for that now :-{ I could probably get one in “climate science” for some of what I’m finding, but that would require a thesis advisor not of the AGW cloth… Oh well. For the greater good, then, will have to do.
    Vince Causey says: Incidently, to try and understand where some of these apocalyptic visions come from, I Googled ‘Peak Oil’. I was shocked at what I read. […]
    Chiefio, you could think about maybe reading some of that stuff and doing a post – it sure would help some of us more impressionable types to sleep better at night 🙂

    I cover peak oil somewhat in the “no shortage of energy” posting. The short form is that the Hubbert Curve is just a bell curve fit over the oil production data. Works well for a single field with a single technology. Not so well globally with long times for technology to change. They also miss that what is a resource changes with price and changes with technology. So all the Trillions of bbl of oil in tar sands and shales were not “oil” until the price when over about $35 /bbl for good sands and $100 / bbl for shales.
    So take a look at the ‘no shortage’ link and if that is not enough, leave a comment on it and I’ll do another posting specifically on oil. (One of the more interesting bits is that in the lab we’ve taken carbonate rocks and with naturally occurring catalysts heat and pressure made oil. Substantially what is likely to happen in subduction zones (per the Russian Theory). They have been using that theory to find LOTS of oil… There are also some interesting oil wells that were ‘depleted’ and then found to be ‘refilling’…
    @Z : OK, you ‘got me’. I was sloppy. I ought to have spent even MORE time listing that particular asteroid types you have to get together to melt in space to make the particular alloy you want and that chromium is ‘part of the mix’ too. But ‘nickel-iron’ is what folks are used to hearing, so I just truncated at that. But, just to satisfy you and for painful completion:

    IIIF Group
    This small group has a broad variety of structural classes from find to broadest (Of – Ogg.) They differ from other meteorites in having low nickel content and a unique trace element distribution. They have high amounts of chromium, and low amounts of germanium, cobalt, and phosphorus. Troilite and Schreibersite are generally absent. This is considered to be evidence that this group originated in the core of a small, differentiated asteroid.

    So you rope in some IIIF type for the chromium. Then you get your nickle and iron in the proportions desired, and you melt them in space and form your lifting body from it.

    IVB Group
    These meteorites all have around 17% nickel content. They are structurally Ataxites. While they appear to be pure Taenite, under a microscope they are seen to consist of a plessitic mixture of Taenite and Kamacite. The IVB group has low values of gallium and germanium supposedly consistent with formation in the core of a small-differentiated asteroid.

    If you want more nickel.

    IIAB Group
    The IIAB group meteorites are Hexahedrites or coarsest Octahedrites, which consist of large Kamacite crystals with minor Taenite. The group formed through fractional crystallization of a slowly cooling magma. These are examples of the broadest (Ogg) known nickel-iron crystal structure, and generally have the lowest nickel content of the iron meteorites. The trace element concentration of these meteorites is similar to some Carbonaceous Chondrites and Enstatite Chondrites so they probably are fragments of a C-type asteroid.

    If you want more iron. You can also select for more, or less carbon and other elements you might want, or not want, in any particular steel melt. Other choices here:
    http://www.manzanitalab.com/content/iron-meteorites
    You will also note that these alloys (that the common man would call stainless steel given their uses) are mostly made of Nickel
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inconel
    Also, from: http://www.nickelinstitute.org/index.cfm/ci_id/11021.htm
    we have:

    The majority of stainless steels contain nickel (Ni), which is added for a number of reasons but particularly to change the crystal structure from ferrite to austenite. Austenitic stainless steels are ductile, tough and, most importantly, easy to form and weld. These steels are not magnetic in the annealed condition. The most common example is Type 304 (S30400) or “18/8” – the most widely used stainless steel in the world. The lower carbon version, Type 304L (S30403) is always preferred in more corrosive environments where welding is involved. There are numerous applications for this grade, ranging from domestic kitchen sinks and building facades to commercial food processing equipment and chemical plant piping.

    And the chart further down shows an Austenitic stainless as being
    904L N08904 austenitic 20% Cr 25% Ni 4.5% Mo
    So forgive me for leaving out the Mo too…
    So yes, you need some Chromium, and it is in the Nickel Iron asteroids along with everything else you need. And YES, you can have stainless steels with more Nickel in them than Chromium.
    Sheesh… the detail you have to go into sometimes … and folks complain that my comments are too long already.
    Oh, and the de-orbit plan has an atmospheric skip phase, then a high heat phase like the shuttle. It ‘lands’ in water so there is no crater. And since I’ve been drug back to this: Look up transfer orbits. Some orbits are ‘free’ energetically. Others have net energy gain. All it takes is time. And a large computer. And if you are delivering a years supply at a whack, you can ‘entrain’ them spaced on 1 year intervals and then you don’t care too much how long it takes, once the first one arrives.
    Z says: So why do they study money?
    Because it’s so SHINY!!! Unlike paper currencies… Oooohhh, the Shiny Thing!!!
    😉
    Gold and other precious metals up nicely today as the world wakes up to their paper currencies not really being “money” as money has “store of value” in the definition and currency only has “medium of exchange”…

  71. Z says:
    September 14, 2010 at 3:23 pm
    E.M.Smith says:
    September 14, 2010 at 3:50 am
    Also incredibly wrong. Once you have a small colony in space, out of the gravity well, dropping materials in is almost free.
    Only if your time is free. Your time is not free unless your food is free. If your food is free, why are you messing around with rocks?
    Especially energetically. There is already in existence a project evaluation of taking a ‘nickel iron’ asteroid and shaping it into a triangle airfoils shape with solar heating, then deorbiting it.
    First *find* your ‘nickel iron’ asteroid. There’s a lot of space that consists of…space. Then there’s a lot of space that consists of asteroids made from fairly worthless silica.

    That would be what most of us call prospecting. Yup, there are “useless” silica asteroids out there just like there are iron-nickel ones. You’ve already got a ton of earth crossing asteroids cataloged so send out a nice solar electric probe to find the one(s) you want to nab. Nudge it where you want to go with a gravity tractor and robotically process it in (lunar) orbit. I’m assuming we’d prefer to park the rocks either there or at one of the lagrange points rather than risk any multi-megaton accidents. Oh, and your time is close to free if food is your only cost because you don’t need people up there. Robots will do just fine and once the rock is close enough teleoperation becomes pretty straight forward.

    The biggest problem is the time it would take. F=d(mv)/dt You need a lot of “spare mass” to throw around in order to get the “useful” mass to the place you want in within a reasonable time-scale.

    Now expand that equation for the real answer:
    F=d(mv)/dt=mdv/dt+vdm/dt
    Yes, you can get your thrust by pushing a lot of mass at low energy (exhaust velocity) or you can push a little mass with high energy, i.e. specific impulse matters a lot. And since you’ve got some time you can afford low thrust electric options that are mass efficient. You want to de-orbit so gravity drag is your friend. Generally the most practical have exit velocities close to the desired delta-v’s so something like a CDEA or hall thruster is probably what you would want. On the other hand you’ve got all of this orbital energy you’re just dying to get rid of so why not drop a tether and use the earth’s magnetic field as a giant dynamo to power your thruster and go for some really high Ve’s?
    No laws of physics are violated and until they are no other arguments about limits hold much water with me. GM’s favored negentropy isn’t violated either (much as I personally dislike the term and concept). At this point GM will invoke a hand waving economic argument just as he dismissed the viability of breeder reactors which have already been demonstrated although for various reasons, many political some economic, have not entered the mainstream. The fact remains that there is still plenty of energy here on earth, even more in the rest of the solar system, and more than enough mass with the right number of protons in it to meet our needs for an incredibly long time. The real practical limits to growth are the artificial constraints Ehrlich and GM would impose upon us.
    And the lack of quality TV. Don’t forget the TV.

  72. Chiefio,
    Thanks for your link to the no-oil-shortage post – a very well researched article.
    The abiotic theory is interesting, but one of the strongest arguments against is that at the depths where it is supposed to form, the temperatures are so high that the oil breaks down again. Not sure if it’s true, but that’s what some folks are saying.

  73. GM & Z & Lazy Teenager — whatta trio!
    As for the asteroid thing, I’ve also seen suggestions that it be left in Earth orbit at some convenient altitude and mined there. Most of them are almost “pre-sorted” into elements, it seems, so the task is rather straightforward. And the precious metal by-products of a 1-mi. diameter rocky/metallic asteroid would likely match total terrestrial mining output to date. Current $$ value, about $1M/capita, for the planet. Of course, the prices would crash, but that’s another way of saying the resources would be plentiful.
    According to the lowest band of the UN population projections, which has the virtue of always having been right so far, population will peak at ~8 bn by 2030. No problem.
    As for the energy needed to maintain them (us) all in the manner to which they/we’d like to be accustomed: I hope, in less than a year (perhaps as little as ¼-½ a year) to be saying, “Tolja so!” The long-underfunded, but finally moving (since 2 yrs or so ago) project tracked at FocusFusion.org is on track to (perhaps) attain “scientific break-even” during 2010. That’s the biggie. Then comes a 2-5 year engineering/design period, followed by open licensing world-wide to manufacturers of prefab units, suitable for shipping/trucking anywhere, one per standard container.
    The product will be a little 5MW generator, no radioactivity, no waste, 5¢/W capacity, output 0.1 – 0.25¢/kwh, which are about 1/20 of current best North American figures. Which will quickly render all renewable plant into economic roadkill, followed shortly by most conventional plant.
    Tiny footprint (~50 sq. m.), and fueled by boron, of which there is enough on-planet to last till about when the sun goes ‘red giant’ in a billion years or two at 10X current electrical demand. Only a few hundred million years if you count 10X all current energy demands. 😉
    The CO2 and energy shortage issues just go away.
    And yes, it will be excellent for spaceflight, too.

  74. E.M.Smith says:
    September 14, 2010 at 8:58 pm
    I cover peak oil somewhat in the “no shortage of energy” posting. The short form is that the Hubbert Curve is just a bell curve fit over the oil production data. Works well for a single field with a single technology. Not so well globally with long times for technology to change.

    The advances in technology have ensured that the peak lasts longer, but instead of a symmetric drop on the other side, it’s a bit of a cliff.
    The Cantell oil field in Mexico is a bit of a poster child for that.
    They also miss that what is a resource changes with price and changes with technology. So all the Trillions of bbl of oil in tar sands and shales were not “oil” until the price when over about $35 /bbl for good sands and $100 / bbl for shales.
    For the seventh time (or so) it’s not about reserves, it’s about *production*. Hubbert’s peak is not a reserve peak, it’s a *production* peak. US oil field peaked in production in the early 70’s – all over the price changes and technology changes have not changed that. The peak in production since the early 70’s has remained – the early 70’s.
    @Z : OK, you ‘got me’. I was sloppy. I ought to have spent even MORE time listing that particular asteroid types you have to get together to melt in space to make the particular alloy you want and that chromium is ‘part of the mix’ too.
    There are only two details for stainless steel >10% chromium (or else it’s not stainless) and iron (or else it won’t be steel) – everything else is fluff. Nickel doesn’t matter – it’s fluff like the rest. Having said that, I’ve never been able to find how little iron could be in something and still be called steel.
    But ‘nickel-iron’ is what folks are used to hearing, so I just truncated at that. But, just to satisfy you and for painful completion:
    IIIF Group
    This small group has a broad variety of structural classes from find to broadest (Of – Ogg.) They differ from other meteorites in having low nickel content and a unique trace element distribution. They have high amounts of chromium, and low amounts of germanium, cobalt, and phosphorus. Troilite and Schreibersite are generally absent. This is considered to be evidence that this group originated in the core of a small, differentiated asteroid.

    High amounts of a trace element does not mean it exceeds 10% of the overall composition. It means it will be several hundred parts per miliion. It needs to exceed 10% if you want to call stainless steel.
    You will also note that these alloys (that the common man would call stainless steel given their uses) are mostly made of Nickel
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inconel

    Would these be technologically inclined common men? I’m obviously not technologically inclined. For me stainless steel has chromium in it (>10%). Nickel just makes it hyper-allogenic.
    Oh, and the de-orbit plan has an atmospheric skip phase, then a high heat phase like the shuttle. It ‘lands’ in water so there is no crater.
    Actually, that makes it worse. Dust clouds aren’t too bad on a global scale, a bit of rain and they’re gone. Walls of water? You’re going to have to put out “No Swimming” signs on many thousands of miles of beach. Or “Run like crazy!” signs. Your choice.
    And since I’ve been drug back to this: Look up transfer orbits. Some orbits are ‘free’ energetically. Others have net energy gain.
    “Free” is only net energy. Unfortunately entropy means there will be a cost to those. It’s the unfortunate thing of You can’t win. You can’t break even (unless at 0K which is impossible) and you can’t get out of the game
    Free energy is nice, unless that free energy consists of a 30m wall of water travelling several thousand miles. That’s not so nice.
    Z says: So why do they study money?
    Because it’s so SHINY!!! Unlike paper currencies… Oooohhh, the Shiny Thing!!!
    😉
    Gold and other precious metals up nicely today as the world wakes up to their paper currencies not really being “money” as money has “store of value” in the definition and currency only has “medium of exchange”…

    OK, let me be more specific, why do economists study what *they* consider money, when it is neither scarce, nor has alternative uses (beyond poor non-absorbent toilet paper).
    And if I’ve closed all my HTML tags correctly, I’ll be amazed…

  75. Tsk Tsk says:
    September 14, 2010 at 9:53 pm
    That would be what most of us call prospecting. Yup, there are “useless” silica asteroids out there just like there are iron-nickel ones. You’ve already got a ton of earth crossing asteroids cataloged

    Just to clarify this, they don’t cross the Earth (or we’d be running around like headless chickens clucking about the End Of The World) they cross (within a certain distance at least) Earth’s orbit.
    Earth’s orbit is a mighty big place. I wouldn’t like to walk it.
    so send out a nice solar electric probe to find the one(s) you want to nab. Nudge it where you want to go with a gravity tractor and robotically process it in (lunar) orbit.
    Right. So we have a large multi-million ton rock that flies by the Earth’s orbit (at some random point) at many thousands of miles per hour, and we’re just going to move it to lunar orbit? With a solar electric probe? That’s a one that uses solar cells right? Solar cells which produce power measured in watts? To push several million tons of rock?
    Let’s assume kindly that this process will take a decade. During that time, the lunar orbit will have flown around the solar system about 10 times, and the rock we’re moving will have flown around a bit too. Given that a 3 body system is non-deterministic, how are you going to even have the faintest idea where your lump of rock is going to end up given you’re sending it around 5 or 6 bodies a number of times?
    I’m assuming we’d prefer to park the rocks either there or at one of the lagrange points rather than risk any multi-megaton accidents.
    Risk them? They would be virtually inevitable if only we could move them. They’re inevitable even when we can’t…
    Now expand that equation for the real answer:
    F=d(mv)/dt=mdv/dt+vdm/dt
    Yes, you can get your thrust by pushing a lot of mass at low energy (exhaust velocity) or you can push a little mass with high energy, i.e. specific impulse matters a lot. And since you’ve got some time you can afford low thrust electric options that are mass efficient.

    That was one of the original specifications – a reasonable time. If we had all the time in the world, we could just paint a giant bullseye in the desert somewhere with “Come to Momma” written beneath it.
    And wait.
    You want to de-orbit so gravity drag is your friend.
    They are orbiting the sun, not the earth. De-orbiting them would merely make them crispy on both sides before they disappeared without trace. You want them to stop their change in altitude (sun relative) and change their speed (earth relative). That’s going to require force (and hence thrust) like it’s going out of fashion.
    With solar cells. And a bottle of gas measured in kilograms.
    Generally the most practical have exit velocities close to the desired delta-v’s so something like a CDEA or hall thruster is probably what you would want. On the other hand you’ve got all of this orbital energy you’re just dying to get rid of so why not drop a tether and use the earth’s magnetic field as a giant dynamo to power your thruster and go for some really high Ve’s?
    Because it probably won’t even come close to the Earth? Earth crossers cross Earth’s orbit. The Earth is more than likely nowhere even close when that happens. Even if it is, it won’t be when it happens again.
    Though it is feasible (though highly unlikely) that it will be at the right place at the right time. This is known as “Come to Momma!” time.

  76. Just to clarify this, they don’t cross the Earth (or we’d be running around like headless chickens clucking about the End Of The World) they cross (within a certain distance at least) Earth’s orbit.

    Pedantic and it is common usage to simply say earth crossing asteroids or earth crossers.

    Earth’s orbit is a mighty big place. I wouldn’t like to walk it.

    Your point? Do you mean that I can never intersect the orbit at the same time as the earth itself? Oh, this is going to be a fun exchange…

    so send out a nice solar electric probe to find the one(s) you want to nab. Nudge it where you want to go with a gravity tractor and robotically process it in (lunar) orbit.
    Right. So we have a large multi-million ton rock that flies by the Earth’s orbit (at some random point)

    Orbits are random? Oooo, I can be pedantic too. Google MPEC.

    at many thousands of miles per hour, and we’re just going to move it to lunar orbit? With a solar electric probe? That’s a one that uses solar cells right? Solar cells which produce power measured in watts? To push several million tons of rock?

    Umm, re-read what I wrote. You find the rocks you want with the cheap probe, then you use a gravity tractor to nudge it to where you want. I never specified the power source, but since you asked nicely it would be fission. Size to taste.

    Let’s assume kindly that this process will take a decade.

    Let’s, but why? If I can grab a rock that has more platinum/iridium/gold etc. than has been mined in the history of humanity and I need those resources why would I limit myself to 10 years? 20, 30, possibly more would be viable depending on the cost of the mission.

    During that time, the lunar orbit will have flown around the solar system about 10 times, and the rock we’re moving will have flown around a bit too. Given that a 3 body system is non-deterministic, how are you going to even have the faintest idea where your lump of rock is going to end up given you’re sending it around 5 or 6 bodies a number of times?

    You’re joking right? Moon, sun and earth. There’s a 3 body problem which must be non-deterministic and therefore no stable orbits exist. Good thing it’s a cloudy night tonight and I can’t see the moon. You must be right!
    You do understand just how many probes we’ve sent to the outer planets with multiple close passes to multiple bodes don’t you? Orbital mechanics is a very well understood discipline. Again, google MPEC. Here, I’ll save you the time:
    http://www.hohmanntransfer.com/crt.htm#news
    How on earth do they get those ephemerides?

    You want to de-orbit so gravity drag is your friend.
    They are orbiting the sun, not the earth. De-orbiting them would merely make them crispy on both sides before they disappeared without trace. You want them to stop their change in altitude (sun relative) and change their speed (earth relative). That’s going to require force (and hence thrust) like it’s going out of fashion.
    With solar cells. And a bottle of gas measured in kilograms.

    Now you’re just being intentionally dense. Everything is orbiting the sun by your straw dog argument. You do understand that the rock does not have to actually impact the earth to be useful, don’t you? Let me simplify. Step 1: capture to earth orbit or lunar orbit or a lagrange point to taste. Step 2 bring refined material down to earth. I was describing the second step with the de-orbit comment and again don’t assume that I have to use solar electric. I’m sticking with electric propulsion (Note that you can use electric without the solar. Gosh!) because you’re so concerned about mass fraction. If you’re willing to tolerate lower specific impulses then there are even more options. If the process begins in lunar orbit or a lagrange point then I probably need to change step 2 to include a transfer vehicle to earth orbit and move the previous step 2 to step 3.

    Because it probably won’t even come close to the Earth? Earth crossers cross Earth’s orbit. The Earth is more than likely nowhere even close when that happens. Even if it is, it won’t be when it happens again.

    Which is why you deliberately nudge the orbit of the rock to where it will be captured. Then you start refining it.
    Oh dear, did you just write “earth crossers?” I think you did…

  77. Tsk, tsk;
    Thanks for the fisking job. Don’t have the patience once I see that kind of superficial condescending mash-moosh of half-accuracies. I no longer have faith in the reception and comprehension capacity of anyone who’s put so much ego into a post.

  78. Well, what a surprise. My simple reminder that the greenhouse gas is water vapour 93% has been either unnoticed or ignored-thankfully not denied-we don’t need denialists. Perhaps the CO2 story has been so thoroughly implanted in our mid-brain that it prevents cortical function and has made common sense an uncommon commodity. Asteroid trapping is more fun-you just need a big glove. Old North Queensland Doctor

  79. Tsk Tsk:
    … NASA has already done a Sample Return.
    It may have been Small, but it got back because, without Friction, weather, etc. Space is Ultimately Predictable.
    Everything you said “felt” right because of your Experience. On air-filled Earth.
    So it takes 10 years. I hear we use Tax Money for Schools.
    How many years is that ? Platinum would be:
    ~$ 200 B/year in U.S. advantages because it replaces enough oil World-Wide to break OPEC. A Platinum Program would be about @$25 B/year.
    PS: I forgot Platinum in my suggestions cheap Platinum should go in every engine reduces the losses ~ 40%.
    And cheap Platinum would near eliminate Soot (except Forest-burning).
    100 mpg is Assured (50 for an SUV).
    … in fact platinum “wash” spark plugs, with just Micrograms of Pl, already add 3+ % to mpg.
    It could be done Today – – but Tomorrow, your new car will be “totalled” as Thieves rip apart the engine to get the UNTRACABLE Platinum out of the cylinders. The Price Must come down.

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