The Fate of All Carbon

Guest post by David Archibald

The fate of all carbon is Davy Jones’ locker. Following the post on the imminent decline in world oil production and the effect that would have on agricultural operating costs at http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/10/27/peak-oil-now-for-the-downslope/,

let’s have a look at what total peak fossil fuel production looks like and the effect that will have on climate. It will look something like this:

image

Figure 1: World Fossil Fuel Production 1800 – 2300

The figure is in millions of barrels of oil and its equivalent in energy content per annum. Peak production is in 2025. Coal production keeps rising until about 2050 but that is more than offset by the declines in oil and natural gas. China has the largest coal reserves on the planet of about one trillion tonnes. The United States is next with about 250 billion tonnes.

image

Figure 2: Fossil Fuel Production scaled against rate of increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide

There is high quality data on atmospheric carbon dioxide from 1959 from the Mauna Loa observatory. Plotted against the historic fossil fuel production profile, there is a good match fuel burned and what remained in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide has a half life in the atmosphere of about five years. It is very rapidly exchanged with the biosphere and the top 100 metres of the ocean. There is almost no exchange between the atmosphere and the ocean below 100 metres. The oceans have fifty times as much carbon dioxide as the atmosphere and eventually the atmosphere will be in equilibrium with the whole ocean column instead of the top 100 metres. Note the dip in the rate of increase in 1992 associated with the cooling caused by Mt Pinatubo. Similarly, the current solar-driven cooling will be associated with a flatlining of the atmospheric carbon dioxide level as the cooling oceans will absorb more carbon dioxide.

image

Figure 3: Projected atmospheric carbon dioxide level 1800 – 3300

The oceans turn over every eight hundred years. So at one end of the oceanic conveyor, water in equilibrium with the current atmospheric carbon dioxide level is sinking towards Antarctica and at the other end, water in equilibrium with the pre-industrial level of carbon dioxide of about 300 ppm is coming to the surface and immediately taking carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to become in equilibrium with the current carbon dioxide level. The sum of these two effects is to take 0.25% of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and dissolve it in the oceans. If it weren’t for this effect, burning all the rocks we could economically burn would take the atmospheric carbon dioxide level to about 600 ppm. With it, the peak is going to be about 522 ppm in 2130.

From the current level of 390 ppm and with the heating effect of carbon dioxide being 0.1°C per 100 ppm, the consequential increase in atmospheric temperature will can look forward to may be another 0.15°C. This will simply be lost in the noise of the climate system. There is a far greater benefit. The extra 130 ppm-odd from the current level will increase agricultural productivity by 23%. So instead of the world producing 2.2 billion tonnes of grain, the same land area and water will be able to produce a further 500 million tonnes of grain. That increase would be able to sustain about 1,200 million people. Perhaps that is not a sustainable thing because the oceanic turnover will subsequently bury that aerial fertiliser in the deep oceans.

This figure also shows why higher atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have such a dramatic effect on plant growth. Plants can’t operate against the partial pressure differential between their cells and the atmosphere when the atmospheric content is below 150 ppm of carbon dioxide. During the depths of the glacials during the current ice age, which is three million years long so far, the atmospheric carbon dioxide level got as low at 172 ppm. Life above sea level came within a hair’s breadth of extinction due to lack of carbon dioxide. At the pre-industrial level of about 300 ppm, only 150 ppm was available to plants. At the expected atmospheric concentration of 522 ppm in 2130, that will be a 150% increase in useable carbon dioxide.

image

Figure 4: Energy Density per Litre

The next question is,”When carbon becomes rare and expensive, what will we be driving?” The future doesn’t look too bleak in that regard. As a fuel, ammonia has about half the energy density of LPG and handles like LPG in terms of the pressures and temperatures of storage. Ammonia is better than having no liquid fuel at all and can be made from nitrogen and hydrogen produced by electrolysis. The cost of electric power determines the production cost. There are credible attempts being made to produce ammonia from wind power. Electrolysis could handle the swings in power output from wind which electric grids are ill-suited to.

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Figure 5: Competitive Price Ranges of Nitrogenous Fertiliser Feedstocks

It is said that half the World’s protein consumption comes from synthetically produced ammonia. Until recently, the most competitive feedstock has been natural gas. But with the natural gas price internationally linked to the oil price through the LNG market, it is being displaced by coal as the preferred feedstock. Coal-based urea plants have twice the capex of natural gas-based ones. The oil price that triggers a switch to coal is about $50 per barrel in energy equivalent terms. Above that level, coal is the preferred feedstock up to about $200 per barrel at which point wind energy may be viable and the coal has a high value use as feedstock for liquid fuels.

In the longer term, the cost of nuclear power will be the main determinant of transport and agricultural operating costs.

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Steve Garcia

With China currently designing and planning on building 50 Thorium nuclear reactors, I have to wonder why that isn’t in the mix shown.

commieBob

Some wag said that we’ve had a fifty year supply of oil left for the last fifty years.
Do the graphs include shale gas and oil?
Do the graphs include any of the frozen methane at the bottom of the ocean?

Enginer

As I have said before, petroleum and even coal are much too valuable as raw materials to waste them by combustion.
If (God willing) Andrea Rossi’s E-Cat really works, as I understand the L.E.N.R. principle, burning crude oil derivatives for thermal energy will a thing of the past.
If it really is degasified nano-nickel and a few promoters reducing the Coulomb barrier, then larger units are obviously possible. It’s just a matter of simple heat transfer to avoid the nickel melting.and thus reducing the reaction area.
Even the thorium molten salt reactors will be enormously non-competitive with nickel-hydrogen.

FergalR

If the US EIA’s report from earlier this year is to be believed there’s at least 3 times more technically recoverable natural gas in shale. With today’s technology.
http://www.eia.gov/analysis/studies/worldshalegas/
Assuming we can readily tap methane clathrates by the end of the century there’s no peak fossil fuel in sight.

Hoser

Finally, nuclear energy gets mentioned at the end. We don’t need to wait until 2050 to use it. People will be dying unless we maintain high per capita energy use. We should be using more than 2 or 3% of the fuel in a reactor load. The nuclear fuel is far too valuable to stash underground as a radioactive mess. We need to build integral fast reactors. Burn closer to 100% of the fuel and much of the waste. Several problems solved. Consider moving to LH2 fuel produced using nuclear power. With excess inexpensive energy, many currently impossible things become practical.

davidmhoffer

In the longer term, the cost of nuclear power will be the main determinant of transport and agricultural operating costs.>>>
I’m not really all that concerned about energy. There’s lots of options, and lots of technology yet to be discovered. Now…all the carbon sinking into the ocean where the plants can’t get at it anymore, that concerns me.
Because that means… no more food.

“Peak production is in 2025.”
Ah, that is a projection and with all projections the future isn’t written in stone so therefore the above statement is not accurate to write with “is in” as if it is so.
Something like “Peak production is projected to be in 2025 based on ___ projection” and fill in the source of the projection. Thanks.

Dear David,
Can you point me to the new data on China’s coal reserves? The 2010 Survey of
Energy Resources for the World Energy Council has the US with the largest coal reserves with 237, Russia was second with 157, and China is listed with 114 or 1/10th the reserves you are quoting.
I wasn’t aware that China’s coal reserves had increased by a full factor in the last year or so. I would love to see the data behind an increase of that magnitude.
Here is the 2010 report that I am quoting for top 3 national reserves. The specific reserves by nation start on Page 10.
http://www.worldenergy.org/documents/ser_2010_report_1.pdf
Best,
Jack H Barnes

“…with the heating effect of carbon dioxide being 0.1°C per 100 ppm…”
The relationship is not linear.
John M Reynolds

David,
I believe the energy of the future will be fusion. We are close to break even already with fusion, another technology breakthrough or two and well be there. Plus, ammonia for autos? Hmm…. big problem with all that production of nitrogen oxides when burned, seems pretty much like a show stopper to me. More likely to be hydrogen or electric cars as I see it. A final comment, I think if we develop the vast shale oil deposits around the world that graph (oil portion) could be extended at least another 30-50 years. We should be spending 30-50 billion a year on fusion energy research, not the meager ~1billion a year currently allocated to insure that we make it to the next technology before the fossil fuels run out.

It will look something like this:

Because We Say So®

Meh…sounds like we’re all gonna die. 2800 AD. AD=All Done?
Enough with the doomsday,please.

An alternative view?

On the other hand: the Russians have a very plausible theory that “fossil fuels” are, in fact, the end product of the decomposition and subsequent reformation of carbonates deep in the earth’s crust under the influence of high pressure and clay catalysis.
Having worked on synfuel production, and having analyzed the gunk that plugs the catalysts, I can verify that the Fischer-Tropsch process produces a product that is indistinguishable from “fossil fuels”.
That being the case, and with the abundance of carbon sources in the crust, it would seem that it will be a very long time before we run out of “fossil fuels”.
Also, it is a “natural” process. (Had to slip that one in; couldn’t resist.)

from the article:
“China has the largest coal reserves on the planet of about one trillion tonnes. The United States is next with about 250 billion tonnes.”
Wikipedia is telling a different story. They say that the U.S. is No. 1 in coal reserves.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal#World_coal_reserves
I realize that Wikipedia is not God. Their treatment of AGW is deplorable. And in general, they go along with ‘Establishment’ views on controversial subjects, while maintaining a facade of journalistic pseudo-objectivity. However I was not aware that coal reserve estimates were all that controversial.
Do you have a reference in the scientific literature for your claim?

William

“Peak production is in 2025.”
The ignorance and stupidty of this statement is unbelievable.
What are hydrocarbon fuels made from?
What is the most common, and third (or is it fourth) most common element in the universe?
All our descendents need is an industrial process and energy to combine them in a way that locks up liquid chemical energy.
There is and will never be a “peak”.

Alex Heyworth

While I agree with the broad outline of your analysis, David, there are a couple of points on which I think you may not be quite right. You refer to the link between LNG and oil prices, yet my understanding is that the link between gas and oil prices has been broken in the US, due to recent discoveries of large volumes of shale gas. With the prospect of the US becoming an exporter rather than an importer of LNG, and other significant new gas discoveries in the UK, elsewhere in Europe and in Australia, it seems very likely that the international price link will soon be broken also.
Second, I wonder to what extent your information on natural gas reserves has taken into account these new discoveries.

Similarly, the current solar-driven cooling will be associated with a flatlining of the atmospheric carbon dioxide level
There is no compelling evidence that the current cooling is solar-driven. We cannot tell at this point, e.g. http://www.leif.org/EOS/2011GL049380.pdf [ SNIP: Now that was just a tad ungracious and not relevant, don’t you think? -REP]: “One of the merits of using three separate data sets in a correlational analysis is that intercomparisons can be made. After treatment for removal of autocorrelation and nonstationarity through simple averaging and differencing, we find statistically‐significant secular correlation between sunspot number and geomagnetic activity. This is expected, and it serves as important support for our analysis method. On the other hand, after making the same treatment to the global surface temperature, correlations between temperature and either sunspot number or geomagnetic activity are not significant”.

Doug in Seattle

Yawn. Another peak oil scare story.

Resourceguy

What is the source for the forecasts and the methodology used? In addition to the earlier comment on where the shale gas and oil is, where is Putin’s oil hunt in the Arctic and the eventual opening of Mexican gulf waters?

kadaka (KD Knoebel)

Ammonia to fuel vehicles? It’s used as an industrial refrigerant. When companies using it have problems, whether used for cold storage or in an ice cream plant, if the power goes out or something mechanical goes wrong, and the ammonia is vented as it expands, neighborhoods face evacuation. Yes I know this firsthand, really stinks up the area. And yes, the hazmat people get involved.
And someday we could have ammonia refill stations as common as gas stations are today, with the expected underground tanks? I don’t think so.

David Archibald

Larry Fields says:
November 13, 2011 at 6:42 pm
I first got interested in China’s coal reserves when I plotted up their production profile against the view that their reserves were of the order of 120 billion tonnes. Now that their annual production is 3,000 million tonnes per annum, the new power plants they were building were going to run out of coal before they wore out. Could the Chinese be so idiotic? No, the real number is somewhere north of one trillion tonnes. So they have at least three hundred years left at the current rate. Note this document, page two at the top:http://www.battelle.org/ASSETS/5C05BD3561BD4891888EB7090849541D/china_coal_industry.pdf

Richard Patton

That prediction has been made again and again for the last 100 years and we have more proven reserves than ever. There are several proven processes to convert any carbon based waste into either natural gas or light crude (and they don’t require more energy in than you get out like corn based ethanol). The only problem is the stuff pulled out of the ground is still cheaper. When and if the reserves drop or the technology improves even further we will switch to recycling our garbage (and I predict even digging up old land fills) to get our gas and oil. One of the reasons that it is so hard to switch from gasoline for cars is that gasoline has the highest energy density (Jules/liter) than any other fuel. Natural gas takes more volume, ethanol takes more volume etc.

Bruce

5 years ago the idea of vast quantities of shale gas were laughed at (The Oil Drum is still laughing and looking like idiots). It turns out shale oil isn’t that rare either.
“Geologists have known about the oil in Niobrara for about 80 years. But no one ever thought it could be recovered economically… until now.”
http://oilshalegas.com/niobrarashale.html
There are many fields that were “uneconomical” with old technology that will be revisited.

R. Lee Shearer

Hey, alternative view, while FT could happen in some places, it does not produce biomarkers, hopanes, steranes, etc. These are the same compounds that are in peat, coal AND oil.
How much nitrogen and sulfur did you incorporate into your FT fuels? Not much, right?

Leif Svalgaard says:
November 13, 2011 at 7:08 pm
[ SNIP: Now that was just a tad ungracious and not relevant, don’t you think? -REP]: “
No, not at all. Anthony is, of course, entitled to post what he wants, but I do think that his avoiding of this is below his usual high standard.

RossP

Don’t forget the “little” bit of coal the Norwegians have found
http://www.creditwritedowns.com/2011/03/3000-billion-tons-of-coal-off-norways-coast.html
I’m with Steve Garcia ( Nov 13 5.32pm) on this one –the Chinese will lead the way with Thorium just like they have lead the way on many scientific innovations for thousands of years.

I looked at the first graph and said to myself this is crap so didn’t read any further, I had just finished reading the prospects for shale gas for New Zealand and given the shale gas situation around the world well i ask you …….

janama

OT – but relevant to Dr Archibald’s work.
In a study of cyclic behaviour of the Sun, Russian scientists now predict 100 years of cooling. IceAgeNow reports that these are not just any scientists. This forecast comes from astrophysicist Dr Habibullo Abdussamatov, head of the Russian segment of the International Space Station, and head of Space Research of the Sun Sector at the Pulkovo Observatory of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
http://thewatchers.adorraeli.com/2011/11/12/100-years-of-cooling-global-cooling-habibullo-abdussamatov-climate-change-solar-minimum/

janama says:
November 13, 2011 at 7:44 pm
In a study of cyclic behaviour of the Sun, Russian scientists now predict 100 years of cooling. IceAgeNow reports that these are not just any scientists.
This ‘study’ is very poor and ignores recent work on solar activity. It is ‘coolist’ alarmism.

Stephen Wilde

David said:
“The oceans turn over every eight hundred years. So at one end of the oceanic conveyor, water in equilibrium with the current atmospheric carbon dioxide level is sinking towards Antarctica and at the other end, water in equilibrium with the pre-industrial level of carbon dioxide of about 300 ppm is coming to the surface and immediately taking carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to become in equilibrium with the current carbon dioxide level. ”
Agreed up to a point but one can logically go a step further.
That water which was ‘in equilibrium’ with some pre industrial CO2 level (some 800 to 1000 years ago depending on the actual length of the thermohaline circulation) is also of a slightly different temperature because of the different climate conditions at that time so it is not so much the CO2 content that is significant but rather the CO2 absorption capability of that water as it re emerges from the thermohaline circulation.
A slightly reduced absorption capability from re emerging slightly less cold water would have an effect on atmospheric CO2 content and I think it is that slow oceanic overturning which provides the best fit for the long term relatively monotonic rise in atmospheric CO2 recorded at Mauna Loa.
We can see from the seasonal variations in CO2 that the response to atmospheric temperature is very rapid but clearly something much bigger, slower and stronger is driving the background rise. That background rise has little relation to the variability of human CO2 emissions.
I believe Murry Salby is going to put it down to changes in the CO2 absorption capability of the oceans and soil moisture on land which, if so. would suit me very well.
Would the above affect David’s figures somewhat ?

David Archibald says:
November 13, 2011 at 7:16 pm
I first got interested in China’s coal reserves when I plotted up their production profile against the view that their reserves were of the order of 120 billion tonnes. Now that their annual production is 3,000 million tonnes per annum, the new power plants they were building were going to run out of coal before they wore out. Could the Chinese be so idiotic?
David,
The report you are quoting was created in 2005 with the newest information in its references as of 2003. Infact, that report is primarly based on information from the 2000 window of 11 years ago. In it, China was the worlds largest swing exporter of coal. However, if you read Bloomberg in 2011, China is arguably the largest importer of coal today.
“China’s July coal imports climbed 36 percent to 17.53 million metric tons from a year earlier, sxcoal.com, a Shanxi-based industry portal, said on its website, citing Chinese customs data.
That exceeded the customs bureau’s record of 17.34 million tons in December and 13.73 million tons in June. The official customs data is due to be released Aug. 22. ”
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-08-17/china-s-coal-imports-rise-36-on-power-demand-sxcoal-says-1-.html
Can you hazard a guess as to why China is ramping up its imports of coal when they have these massive undocumented reserves you are creatively quoting.
I look forward to your reply,
Jack H Barnes

Brian Macker

Funny how all three peaks just happen to occur on 11/11/2011. Perhaps the time when the person making this baloney up had something to do with that, ya think?

RockyRoad

Leif Svalgaard says:
November 13, 2011 at 7:53 pm

janama says:
November 13, 2011 at 7:44 pm
In a study of cyclic behaviour of the Sun, Russian scientists now predict 100 years of cooling. IceAgeNow reports that these are not just any scientists.
This ‘study’ is very poor and ignores recent work on solar activity. It is ‘coolist’ alarmism.

Not surprising. The only valid alarm we should listen to is the one that gets us up for work in the morning. The rest are pretty much fictitious and a waste of time.

The CO2 levels shown in the first graph for the last ice age are not to be trusted as they tend to be 30–50% low due to traumatic changes, including microfracturing, as the ice cores are collected. Even so, CO2 was dangerously low, as it is still dangerously low even today. We will always be safer at levels in above 1000 ppm up to 4000 ppm. We would have lush crops and plenty of food, utilizing water and nutrients more efficiently than now.

Mike Wryley

If ancient co2 levels were as high as 5000 to 7000 ppm, One would assume that not only did the oceans cope (and perhaps convert that co2 into oil) but perhaps the plant world overate. With current co2 levels at only 400 ppm, it’s humanity’s responsibilty set as much carbon free as possible. Heck, it may be our raisin d’être in the biosphere.

janama

Leif Svalgaard – thank you – I take your point.

I’m not going to debate all this but I strongly suspect your numbers are light. The curves are flatter on the down slope. Other energy sources such as Uranium, Theorem, gas hydrates and so on are not properly accounted for. I would also remind that concepts such peak anything are way more complex then most published models suggest. I am old enough to remember all but BS that came from the doom and gloom produced by the “Club of Rome”. Except for population I don’t think many of their predictions ever came close to the mark. Models that are static and deal with well know static things are very good, we all know that and use them all the time. Models that deal with dynamic things are not worth the electrons to send them around. That we also know from experience. This kind of thing is valuable do not misunderstand me. We all need to keep a very skeptical eye or both open when dealing with these things that all.

David Archibald

Jack H Barnes says:
November 13, 2011 at 6:14 pm
Jack, there are some figures in this link:
http://en.sxcoal.com/energysafe.aspx
They range from 860 billion tonnes up to beyond 2.0 trillion tonnes.
jmrsudbury says:
November 13, 2011 at 6:28 pm
From the current level, it is pretty flat at about the rate.
Alex Heyworth says:
November 13, 2011 at 7:03 pm
The link between the natural gas price and the oil price is only broken for the US because of the commitment drilling to keep the shale acreage. Most shale gas requires $8/gj or thousand cubic feet to provide a return. That will come. The shale gas thing will attenuate the decline, and I am a believer in shale gas because I am long a shale gas company. But shale gas numbers are a stab in the dark at the moment. For example, the USGS had 80 TCF on the Marcellus Shale at one stage then downed their estimate to 20 TCF. Shale gas and shale oil wells have vicious decline rates – down to 15% of the initial flow by year three.

David Archibald

Leif Svalgaard says:
November 13, 2011 at 7:08 pm
Going through the reference in the paper you cited, I see Hoyt and Schatten’s “The Role of the Sun in Climate Change”. On the first page of the introduction of that book is the story of Meton, living in Ancient Greece in 400 BC, who deduced a correlation between sunspot activity and weather based on his own observational evidence.

David Archibald

Jack H Barnes says:
November 13, 2011 at 7:58 pm
Most coal is in the north, imports in the south. Same reason why they import iron ore when they have lots of it themself. But a little bit of Google work will find a range of numbers on what China’s coal reserves. A big Chinese coal reserve position does not fit the narrative that China is doing a lot in renewables. The Chinese are underplaying it because the idiot Europeans have been paying the Chinese to build windmills and dams. 30% of Chinese wind farms are not connected to the grid. So why did they build them? Because they did not pay for them.

Acorn1 - San Diego

This report, and it’s COMENTS, illustrate the two problems we have with
present-day governments.
1…number 1… Going after the cheapest energy for Homo sapiens.
We must always, always, do this. Spending excessive tax payer money
for green energy sources is foolish. Let the market do this.
2…number 2… Keeping atmospheric CO2 as high above 170ppm as possible.
We must always, always, do this. Continued recognition, or maybe a start, of
this must go on. We need to chop down AR5 to the correct size. We cannot
let the UN and governments all around to keep this hoax in the forefront.
How do this?

Crispin in Waterloo

@David A
Thanks for the analysis. I would like to contribute a couple of things. Willem Nel (University of Johannesburg) analysed the available fuels as ‘peak energy’ occurring in 2050, with peak coal in 2070. Obviously some assumptions have to be made about future finds etc.
Willem also arrived at a similar figure of about 530 ppm CO2 max for all known fossil fuels + 100% assumed still to be located. Certainly it will not get to 600 ppm unless it turns out oil is abiotic and produced under the surface of the Earth by heat, pressure and the plentiful H+C down there.
Re the coal available – Mongolia has huge coal deposits (some seams over 100 ft thick) and they have hardly started looking yet. I was surprised to see the figure for the US being so low and the Mongolian deposits not noted (which are I think certainly larger than 250 b/tons). Heaven knows what is under Siberia. It is enormous and right next door. I have heard that many countries have downrated their coal reserves (see what Germany did) for political reasons and that the actual deposits are much larger than stated. They started reporting ‘recoverable’ coal which of course depends on price. It was used as an excuse to say tehre was ‘nearly none’ and raise the price accordingly because after all, the oil guys have been getting away with that (flimsy?) argument for years.
The peak energy analysis also noted there is little Uranium available compared with Thorium. Geothermal looks good and on course there are vast hydro energy sites in Africa (far more than Europe generates total at the moment).
I agree transport will be electric. It is just so efficient in terms of vehicle cost and maintenance. The fertiliser from electricity angle was interesting.

Acorn1 - San Diego

Some additions to clarify:
Present-day governments are totally tied to the UN’s IPCC. So we need to cut
its influence to zero.
The idea of a “carbon footprint” is totally foolish. Carbon is great, CO2 that is, is
in the atmosphere. We are continuously told it’s not. WRONG..! How educate
the elite, how the masses?

R. Gates

Leif Svalgaard says:
November 13, 2011 at 7:08 pm
“Similarly, the current solar-driven cooling will be associated with a flatlining of the atmospheric carbon dioxide level.”
There is no compelling evidence that the current cooling is solar-driven. We cannot tell at this point….
_____
The evidence is not there but past episodes of a quiet sun give strong hints, and I would say this is compelling enough to suspect a partial solar influence during the exceptionally quiet sun we’ve seen in the past decade. But the flattening of temperaturesover this period certainly isn’t only solar driven, but certainly the increase in aerosols from multiple sources both natural and anthropogenic, as well as a period of time in which La Nina has dominated the ENSO cycle must also be factored in. Of course, La Nina dominance over decadal timeframes may indeed be related once more back to the solar cycles as well, as hinted at in these and many other studies:
http://www.agu.org/journals/ABS/1994/93PA03501.shtml
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1474706502000244
But back to the point…it is dubious that we’ll see a flattening of CO2 levels, as their long-term direction is not driven now by natural factors as much as anthropogenic. Simply look to periods of global recession to see a temporary slow-down in the growth of CO2. It never actually flattens, but simply grows more slowly during these periods.

Crispin in Waterloo

@Jack
>Can you hazard a guess as to why China is ramping up its imports of coal when they have these massive undocumented reserves you are creatively quoting.
++++++++++
For the same reason the US chooses to import its oil: to use up what is advertised as a fixed supply of known dimension so your domestic supply will be the only resource left.
China is buying coal from Mongolia for $12 per ton at the border. Why dig at home??

davidgmills

Since this is an energy post, I ran across an article yesterday about a company that is starting production on a new very inexpensive battery made of water, salt, carbon and manganese. Its founder and patent holder is a PhD at Carnegie Mellon and the company has got huge startup funding from the government and from the private sector. In addition to using extremely cheap materials, it is nontoxic, and because of its low internal causticity (I’m guessing here), it lasts far longer than ordinary batteries according to the manufacturer.
It claims to have demonstrated >5000 life cycles of 100% depth of discharge with a target goal of >20,000.
I’d like comment on the company: http://www.aquionenergy.com/technology

davidgmills

Follow up post to above….
Video of the company’s founder and inventor here:
http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/science-scope/video-batteries-made-of-salt-water-last-10x-longer/10976

ferdberple

commieBob says:
November 13, 2011 at 5:45 pm
Some wag said that we’ve had a fifty year supply of oil left for the last fifty years.
We certainly heard it predicted during the 70’s. Soon to run out, peak oil. Only thing we ran out of was cheap oil. There was lots of the expensive stuff, even back then.

R. Gates says:
November 13, 2011 at 9:36 pm
The evidence is not there but past episodes of a quiet sun give strong hints, and I would say this is compelling enough to suspect a partial solar influence during the exceptionally quiet sun we’ve seen in the past decade.
The past decade has had the same solar activity as a decade a century ago so we have been there before. And I don’t know of which hints you are talking. ‘Compelling enough to suspect’ is too vague for me. Either it is compelling or it is not. It is like being pregnant. I linked to a recent paper http://www.leif.org/EOS/2011GL049380.pdf that concluded that “After treatment for removal of autocorrelation and nonstationarity through simple averaging and differencing, we find statistically‐significant secular correlation between sunspot number and geomagnetic activity. This is expected, and it serves as important support for our analysis method. On the other hand, after making the same treatment to the global surface temperature, correlations between temperature and either sunspot number or geomagnetic activity are not significant”. So we have no basis for ‘suspecting’ anything. Wishful thinking is, of course, always allowed.

AlexS

More speculative dreams. No one can predicts what will happen in 2030 even less in 2050.
Maybe we will have technology to extract more “fossil” fuels or maybe not. Or maybe we have but even more economically energies appear.
No one knows.