Guest post by Thomas Fuller
Like mountain fruits enjoyed out of season and shipped long distance, there are climate pleasures I need to avoid, such as piling on with criticism of 10:10, Michael Mann, Joe Romm and my beloved late, great state of California.
It’s too easy and doesn’t get the job done. Summer is the silly season and we’re having a lovely fall in San Francisco.
It’s been a lovely fall in many parts of the world, and a less than lovely spring in many parts down South. But overall, be prepared for claims of the hottest month leading to the hottest year on record.
Let’s assume for the moment that it turns out that way (I think a sharp drop starting this month means we’ll miss that dubious distinction narrowly). What really should we think if this year is the warmest on record? And if, as I strongly suspect, next year is dramatically cooler due to the confluence of La Nina and a shift in the PDO, what should we make of that?
I don’t know.
I assume this world will continue to warm slightly. I assume that we will not agree to cut our energy usage drastically. I assume we will not make a whole-scale conversion to wind, solar and biofuels.
I assume, then, that the voracious appetite for energy in the developing world will mostly be satisfied with coal, and that in 40 years we will be consuming more than three times as much energy as we do today–mostly generated by coal.
I personally consider that a grave problem for the world, no matter what it portends for global temperatures.
But if you consider what we have not done, perhaps we have no right to complain. And I’m not talking about Kyoto, Cap and Trade, blah-blah-blah.
What we have not done is enable nuclear power to be used as much as it should, due to fears of nuclear waste. What we have not done is push combined heat and power, due to their lack of lobbying strength. What we have not done is finance Waste to Energy plants, due to the pressing need for cash for, I don’t know, financing Facebook and American Idol. What we have not done is push for uprating our hydroelectric facilities, clear the way for pumped storage for a not-so-rainy day, or invest in other utility-level storage technologies.
The Green Consortium that has been yelling at us about climate change and energy has ignored all of the technologies that could make a difference. And skeptics have been too busy noting all of their errors, personal quirks and logical absurdities to notice that yes, people, we have an energy problem coming down the road.
As I’ve written here before, I believe forecasts of energy consumption by the DOE and the UN are far too low. If I’m right, and the world’s energy needs triple before 2050, the amount of coal we will burn to satisfy those needs will make skies the world over as grey as the skies over most of China’s cities today. Whatever it does to temperatures (and I do believe it will do something, warming regional temperatures and causing further misery in the developing world), the normal pollution and black carbon will amount to a problem for the world.
I’ll repeat the simple math: We used 500 quads last year. A quad is equivalent to 36 million tons of coal being burned. A straight line continuation of consumption trends puts us at 2,000 quads around the year 2030, and maybe 3,000 quads by 2075. That’s a lot of coal.
There are days when I am optimistic about our ability to prevent such a firestorm. This is not one of those days. I read the news today and saw the foolishness of the green movement, the correctness of the skeptical criticism, and sat down to write this feeling like we’re all missing the point.
Richard Lindzen and Anthony Watts, John Christy and Steve McIntyre, all bright, sincere and honest people, are correctly noting the defects of the warmist arguments. And the warmists can’t seem to string two sentences together without making a huge mistake. They haven’t done anything right in a year.
But we’re still going to be burning a heckuva lot of coal in 2030. It’s really not a good thing to look forward to. I intend to be here in 2030, a lot greyer and more irascible, I’m sure. But I don’t want the skies to be as grey as my hair.
Thomas Fuller http://www.redbubble.com/people/hfuller
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