Is our certain fate a coal-burning climate apocalypse? No!

From the Fabius Maximus website, By Larry Kummer

Summary: The news media overflows with scary stories as we approach November’s United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. The latest are fears about the coal apocalypse, based on forecasts that the fuel of the 21st Century will be that of the 19th C: coal. This is the basis for the IPCC’s projections. Like most aspects of climate modeling, these tales are often told with undeserved certainty — and omit mention of the contrary case (or that there is a contrary case).

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The IPCC’s ominous projections assume that we will burn off almost all of Earth’s fossil fuel reserves, especially its massive reserves of coal. As David Rutledge (Prof Engineering, Caltech) explains:

“Now that Working Group 3 has put its chapters on line, all six thousand pages of the IPCC’s 5th Assessment Report have arrived. Coal is the specter that looms.

“In the IPCC’s business-as-usual scenario, Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 8.5, coal accounts for half of future carbon-dioxide emissions through 2100, and two-thirds of the emissions through 2500. The IPCC’s coal burn is enormous, twice the world reserves by 2100, and seven times reserves by 2500. Coal so dominates that it is not an exaggeration to say that the IPCC and climate-change research programs depend on this massive coal burn for their existence. Without the threat of coal, the IPCC could close up shop and the research program funding would drop to a small fraction of what is spent on research in weather forecasting.”

The following graph shows this scenario for 21st Century energy use, from “RCP 8.5: A scenario of comparatively high greenhouse gas emissions” by Keywan Riahi et al in Climate Change, November 2011. See how the dark stain of coal use grows, reversing the past 3 centuries of evolution to more efficient energy sources.

 

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The IPCC foresees a hot dirty future for the world, in which coal use increases to become the major source of power for the world.

There is an analytical basis for these forecasts in papers such as “Drivers for the renaissance of coal” by Jan Christoph Steckel et al in the Proceedings of the National Academies, predicting that coal use will increase not just in China and India, but also poor fast-growing countries. Popular articles push this story in articles such as “There are 2,100 new coal plants being planned worldwide — enough to cook the planet” by Brad Plumer at Vox.

The IPCC’s projections assume no decarbonization of world power sources from new technology (solar, wind, and perhaps fusion) or regulations (to reduce not just climate change but also air pollution and toxic waste produced by mining and burning this dirtiest of major energy sources). It’s not as certain as we’re told.

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The rest of the story

The IPCC’s projections might be wrong if 2012 was the start of a new trend: world coal consumption fell by 98 million short tons, 1.2% (typically climate stories would translate that into a meaningless statistic, in terms of the height of the Empire State Building, or energy consumed by a Paris home in a century).

World coal consumption peaked in 2011. North American use peaked in 2005; 2012 was down an astonishing 21% since then (USA use in Q1 2015 was -24% from Q1 2005). Europe peaked in 2007, after 6 of its 9 largest consumers peaked: UK and Poland in 2006; Czech, Germany, and Greece in 2007; and Turkey in 2011. Africa peaked in 2008 and Asia in 2011.

History shows that as poor nations grow into the middle income brackets, people become willing to pay for a cleaner environment. That means regulations on the mining and burning of coal, which raises its cost (in the US perhaps going to uneconomic levels). We see the first signs of that now in India and China, although the IPCC’s projections don’t.

China has been the largest driver of global commodity consumption, including coal. Excluding China, world coal use is flat for 5 years, up only 13% for 10 years, and up only 7% in the previous 25 years. A March report by the Sierra Club describes the situation:

“From 2005 to 2012, worldwide coal-fired generating capacity boomed, growing at three times the previous pace. The increase in the global coal fleet was twice the size of the entire existing U.S. coal fleet. That boom is now busting. In India, projects shelved or cancelled since 2012 outnumber project completions by six to one, and new construction initiations are at a near-standstill. In both Europe and the U.S., the coal fleet is shrinking, with retirements outnumbering new plants. China faces a looming glut in coal-fired generating capacity, with plant utilization rates at a 35-year low.”

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China cleaning up, shifting away from coal

China’s coal consumption fell 1.9% in 2012, increased slightly in 2013, fell 2.9% in 2014, and fell almost 8% in the first 4 months of 2015 (there is no Energy Information Agency data after 2012).

China has shown little concern about climate change, but air pollution from coal is a major public policy problem. “The cost of China’s reliance on coal: 670,000 smog-related deaths a year“. “Beijing to Shut All Major Coal Power Plants to Cut Pollution“. There are headlines like this every month, as public pressure grows for drastic action.

The Sierra Club report describes this and other reasons for China’s shift away from coal:

“Within China, the following policy trends are playing a significant role in determining future coal capacity: (1) Small Plant Replacement Policy, (2) air pollution mitigation, (3) economic restructuring, (4) expanding renewable, gas, nuclear, and hydro power sources, (5) climate policies, (6) energy efficiency initiatives, and (7) shifts in the regional distribution of generating capacity.”

Of course, alarmists have swung into action to minimize the significance of this: “China’s CO2 emissions have been plummeting lately. What’s going on?” by Brad Plummer at Vox.

More good news

Has the IPCC underestimated the improvements during the next 20 years? That would drastically change their forecasts for the 2nd half of the century.  For example, use of solar and wind is skyrocketing as these technologies improve. Even more important, we’re using energy more efficiently — as shown in this graph of energy efficiency from the World Bank. We’ve improved much in a mere 7 years, with great potential for the future.

GDP per kilogram of oil equivalent of energy use

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More speculatively, new tech to produce energy might lie in our future. There are dozens of advanced nuclear and fusion projects under development. A new report by Third Way describes what’s happening…

“The American energy sector has experienced enormous technological innovation over the past decade in everything from renewables (solar and wind power), to extraction (hydraulic fracturing), to storage (advanced batteries), to consumer efficiency (advanced thermostats). What has gone largely unnoticed is that nuclear power is poised to join the innovation list.

“A new generation of engineers, entrepreneurs and investors are working to commercialize innovative and advanced nuclear reactors. … Third Way has found that there are nearly 50 companies, backed by more than $1.3 billion in private capital, developing plans for new nuclear plants in the U.S. and Canada. The mix includes startups and big-name investors like Bill Gates, all placing bets on a nuclear comeback, hoping to get the technology in position to win in an increasingly carbon-constrained world.”

Conclusions

Global coal consumption has been volatile over time, so we should not rejoice yet. These ominous IPCC projections rely on a large-scale shift of the world’s power generation mix to coal, and a massive rise in power use. Current trends show that neither of these is inevitable. Even if the major climate models have the science right (a large assumption), many of the inputs are little more than guesses.

This doesn’t mean that we should close our eyes and rely on hope. We need to prepare for extreme outcomes. But there are many threats in addition to climate change. For example, our destruction of the oceans is a serious and imminent threat (details are here and here). We need to allocate spending by an overall risk assessment, not by what special interest group generates the most fear in the public.

However there are logical measures that should command support of Right and Left (and so both sides ignore them). Increased funding for and supervision of climate research (e.g., our satellite sensors are inadequate and aging). A massive increase in energy research and development, to provide ample, cheap, clean energy for the future. Most important, prepare for reoccurrences of past extreme weather (hurricanes hitting east coast cities, decade-long droughts in the southwest).

“We don’t even plan for the past.”

— Steven Mosher (member of Berkeley Earth; bio here), a comment posted at Climate Etc.


Background

Fabius Maximus is a non-profit multi-author website reporting about geopolitics (broadly defined), begun in 2003.  Since then we have published 3,240 articles; these have received over 6 million pageviews (now getting  ~100 thousand per month). We publish 12-14 articles per week, of one to two thousand words each. Readers have posted over 39,000 comments.

Our content is distributed by Google News. We are accredited as news media with several organizations, such as the National Bureau of Economic Research and Stratfor.  Much of our coverage focuses on science-related public policy issues, with 416 articles discussing research in sciences such as oceanography, astronomy, and climate science. These also include interviews with and articles by scientists (e.g., economist Ed Dolan, biologist Dan Botkin, and climate scientists Judith Curry and Roger Pielke Sr.). Our articles are widely republished (e.g., those about economics at Roubni’s Global Economics).

Here is some background information About the website and Profiles of the authors.

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128 thoughts on “Is our certain fate a coal-burning climate apocalypse? No!

    • Already have my DeLorean, but converted it to use quality cord-wood. Problem was that I took the car to the future and it was really hard to come by any coal. But in the future there are a lot more trees, due to the high levels of CO2, and it’s a lot easier to fire up the wood powered flux capacitor when there are a lot more trees.

    • You need to generate 1.21 Jigawatts of power to get back to the future.
      The professor did not say Gigawatts, he said Jigawatts!
      Mr. Fusion is a good idea too.

      • Jiga is the traditional pronunciation of the Giga prefix, which was swamped by hordes of semi-literate teenage gamers with their new gigabyte drives.

        This latter pronunciation was formalized within the United States in the 1960s and 1980s with the issue by the US National Bureau of Standards of pronunciation guides for the metric prefixes. A prominent example is found in the pronunciation of gigawatts in the 1985 movie Back to the Future.

      • The irony is that the greenies want to take us back to the past by eliminating the use of many Gigawatts.

      • If LENR is correct. Big IF. There is substantial evidence that the Widom-Larsen weak force effect is real. It is NOT cold fusion. There is zero evidence that it can be harnessed successfully. Brillouin has acheived COP ~2 in their low temp system, and possibly ~4 in their high temp. If ITER is the model, then they need to get > 7.5. No evidence for that. Yet.

      • Even if LENRs are a viable source of energy, the green nazis will come up with an excuse to stop their implementation. Some of you are ignoring their end game. They don’t want you using electricity period. The progressives (same as nazis) want most of us dead. The sooner the better. They must save the planet from the spread of humanity. We are the monsters in the minds of these monsters that need to be gone to save the earth.
        Thorium reactors using liquid salts could be about the safest source of power around. But you won’t see the greenies campaigning for their development. In fact, cheap electricity is their worst nightmare by their own admissions.

      • For the technically minded, I can recommend the 5 lectures by Mitchell Swartz and Peter Hagelstein at MIT. The first one is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0aXShVzGNg
        The others are easily found, they occur on subsequent days.
        I found all fifteen hours riveting. Especially Hagelstein, as he is probably the better speaker and his presentations come first during each lecture. The guy is no idiot and no fraud. He won an award for his work on x-ray lasers, but has paid a price for his subsequent interests in cold fusion.

      • ??
        I appreciate this is a touchy topic at WUWT, but what have I done that the previous three comments did not do to merit moderation?

  1. So, with the data available…”China’s coal consumption fell 1.9% in 2012, increased slightly in 2013, fell 2.9% in 2014, and fell almost 8% in the first 4 months of 2015″…couldn’t the IPCC modeling team create a trend line that will take coal consumption to near zero sometime in the future??? (sorry, couldn’t resist)

    • Scott,
      Following up on that fun comment — at one of my first jobs I wrote a report showing that the company’s revenues were on trend to hit zero in 10 years. Unfortunately the memo went viral. The President called me in and gently explained that there are few straight lines in nature. Better yet, he didn’t fire me.

    • I thought that China is in a bit of a recession? That might temporarily explain a reduction in coal use which will likely turn around.
      Certainly their stock market is currently a mess.

      • Precisely; sauce for the gander, you know. How their energy consumption could somehow be immune to their economic travails escapes me.

      • Catcracking,
        China was not in a recession during 2014! China’s reported real GDP growth in 2014 was 7.4%/ That would be awesome for us, but was their slowest in 20 years.
        They are in the midst of the inevitable slowdown from their catch-up phase of double-digit GDP growth to the slower growth typical of middle-income nations.

      • Editor of the Fabius Maximus website:
        Yes, your comment is right in each of its points.
        Also, in the West coal is mostly used for power generation but in China coal is mostly used for home heating. Hence, in China coal consumption always falls in the first 4 months of each year; i.e. as winter departs. And also, in China any reduction to disposable incomes has an immediate effect on coal consumption.
        Richard

  2. Maybe wrong place to post but some is about Coal
    Some years ago I subscribed to the New Scientist when it had that natty blue and white cover. Very rational and informative. Several recent issues came my way this week – on the question of ‘climate change’ NS seems to have become deranged.
    13 June 2015 Cover states “FIVE METRES AND COUNTING – first watertight calculations of sea level rise” Pages 8-10. ‘Meltdown imminent – at least five metres is already locked in’. The West Antarctic ice sheet is ‘already doomed’ – ‘this means a 3.3 metre rise is now unavoidable’. Wilkes Basin – ‘already losing ice’. ‘Even in the unlikely event we manage to limit warming to 2 degrees C we’re in for a 0.8 metre rise as the oceans warm and expand’. ‘Can geoengineering save coastal cities?’ ‘Suck all the excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere….?’ Although fluffy about dating, I find this article truly ‘alarming’.
    18 July 2015 Pages 10-11. ‘Coal Renaissance sets us for 4degreesC rise’. The article calls for carbon pricing that is ‘high enough to kill first coal, then oil and gas’ ‘Poor nations are unlikely to be keen on the idea, fearing it will harm their development. But a relatively small ‘coalition of the willing’ could force it on the world …. a carbon pricing bloc could impose punitive taxes on goods imported from non-carbon pricing nations’. ‘It now seems virtually inevitable that we are going to keep burning enough fossil fuel to raise global temperatures by more than 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels’ ‘Our only hope of sticking to 2 degrees C is to slash energy use instead – such as by cutting down on air travel. Climate scientists should set an example themselves.’
    How could the NS editor seriously allow this stuff to appear?
    11 July 2015 Front cover states “33 REASONS WE CAN’T THINK CLEARLY ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE” and at Pages 28-33 the title is “The Road to Climate Hell” The 33 reasons vary from ‘Ignorance’, ‘Confirmation Bias’, Social Comparison’, to ‘Place Attachment’, Tokenism;, ‘Financial Investments’, ‘Habit’ . It’s a deeply weird article. ‘Scepticism’ doesn’t get a look-in.
    In the same issue there’s an amusing piece under OPINION entitled ‘Time for a New Act’ which suggests that ‘climate scientists’ have ‘done the heavy lifting …..the Nobel prize has been won’ and it’s time they bowed out and ‘we need to hear a lot more from artists and lawyers, priests and playwrights, economists and engineers, moralists and financiers and a lot less from the lab’ – citing the pope’s recent encyclical.
    The inference is that ‘climate scientists’ are no longer believed?

    • First thought is … MONEY: methinks why would the “New Scientist” go to such trouble ?
      Perhaps they get paid (like certain so-called universities get paid) by the self-perpetuating EPA. Just a thought !
      Thank you Coeur de Lion: very, very interesting indeed.
      Regards,
      WL

      • I stopped buying New Scientist several years ago, when they abandoned science for propaganda.

  3. “This is the basis for the IPCC’s projections. Like most aspects of climate modeling, these tales are often told with undeserved certainty — and omit mention of the contrary case”
    That’s pretty dumb. The author looks exclusively at RCP 8.5. That’s the highest one used. But there are also IPCC RCP’s 2.6, 4.5, 6.5 (W/m2) that were calculated. They are the contrary cases. No-one is saying that RCP 8.5 is certain.
    It may be that not all available coal will be consumed. People are trying to find ways to agree not to do that. But it isn’t a done deal.

    • Nick,
      “No-one is saying that RCP is certain.”
      (1) I disagree. RCP8.5 is often described by activists and journalists (but not in AR5) as the “business as usual” scenario, as a certain (or practically so) outcome if we fail to reduce CO2 emissions> Seldom do they mentioning the other factors that make it scenario unlikely.
      (2) “People are trying to find ways not to {burn all available coal}. But it isn’t a done deal.”
      Yes, that’s is what I said. At some length. How is that a rebuttal?

      • Well, here you say it:
        “The IPCC’s ominous projections assume that we will burn off almost all of Earth’s fossil fuel reserves, especially its massive reserves of coal.”
        They don’t. The point of scenarios, like the RCPs, is that the climate scientists acknowledge that it is not part of their expertise to work out how much carbon will actually be burnt. So they work out a variety of cases. Their projections are conditional – if 8.5, then this, if 6.5 then this, if 2.6 then this. The IPCC doesn’t assume one or other is true.

      • Nick,
        “The IPCC’s ominous projections assume …”
        That’s doesn’t mean that all the IPCC’s projections are ominous. It means that the IPCC’s ominous projections assume…” The strong mitigation (RCP2.6) and 2 medium stabilization scenarios (RCP 4.5 and 6.0) do not paint such ominous outcomes.
        I should have made that clearer in the text. I had a discussion of all 4 RCP’s, putting RCP 8.5 in context, but cut that due to its length — but doing so left the discussion of RCP8.5 without a broader context.

      • But your argument goes nowhere. The IPCC calculates the result of 8.5, and says, that would be bad. You say, but we may not burn that much. That’s just saying RCP 6.5 is more likely, or maybe 4.5. That’s why the IPCC does it that way. It leaves it to others to figure which of the scenarios is more likely. Or less passively, to try to move to a better one.

      • Nick,
        ‘But your argument goes nowhere.”
        I disagree, In brief, the public policy debate about climate change is to a large extent driven by forecasts of extreme outcomes if we don’t act. These often point to projections using RCP 8.5 as the horrific “base case” result from inaction. That is not correct.
        It’s not described as such in AR5, but activists and journalists get that impression because RCP8.5 is the only RCP given assuming no policy action, and its additional dark assumptions are not obvious.
        Including a baseline case for inaction would have been valuable (IMO, essential), one with more likely assumptions for growth of GDP, technology, and population. In that context RCP8.5 would provide a useful outlier scenario, showing results of inaction AND bad luck.

      • “RCP8.5 is the only RCP given assuming no policy action”
        Where are policy actions assumed? Here is what the IPCC actually says in Box SPM.1 AR5:
        “Climate change projections in IPCC Working Group I require information about future emissions or concentrations of greenhouse gases, aerosols and other climate drivers. This information is often expressed as a scenario of human activities, which are not assessed in this report. Scenarios used in Working Group I have focused on anthropogenic emissions and do not include changes in natural drivers such as solar or volcanic forcing or natural emissions, for example, of CH4 and N2O.
        For the Fifth Assessment Report of IPCC, the scientific community has defined a set of four new scenarios, denoted Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs, see Glossary). They are identified by their approximate total radiative forcing in year 2100 relative to 1750: 2.6 W m-2 for RCP2.6, 4.5 W m-2 for RCP4.5, 6.0 W m-2 for RCP6.0, and 8.5 W m-2 for RCP8.5. For the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) results, these values should be understood as indicative only, as the climate forcing resulting from all drivers varies between models due to specific model characteristics and treatment of short-lived climate forcers. These four RCPs include one mitigation scenario leading to a very low forcing level (RCP2.6), two stabilization scenarios (RCP4.5 and RCP6), and one scenario with very high greenhouse gas emissions (RCP8.5). The RCPs can thus represent a range of 21st century climate policies, as compared with the no-climate policy of the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) used in the Third Assessment Report and the Fourth Assessment Report. “
        (My emphasis)
        The scenarios are simply based on the amount of emission, not on policies.
        Terms like stabilization simply refer to the outcome, not the policy. From the Glossary:
        “Two intermediate stabilization pathways in which radiative forcing is stabilized at approximately 4.5 W m–2 and 6.0 W m–2 after 2100 (the corresponding ECPs assuming constant concentrations after 2150)”

      • Nick,
        The papers on which the RCP’s in AR5 were based are quite clear about role of mitigations actions — changes in the policies by which we run this planet.
        The representative concentration pathways: an overview”, Van Vuuren et al, Climatic Change, November 2011:

        The four selected RCPs were considered to be representative of the literature, and included one mitigation scenario leading to a very low forcing level (RCP2.6), two medium stabilization scenarios (RCP4.5/RCP6) and one very high baseline emission scenarios (RCP8.5).

        They describe RCP2.6:

        The RCP2.6 was developed by the IMAGE modeling team of the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency. The emission pathway is representative of scenarios in the literature that lead to very low greenhouse gas concentration levels. It is a “peak-and-decline” scenario; its radiative forcing level first reaches a value of around 3.1 W/m2 by mid-century, and returns to 2.6 W/m2 by 2100. In order to reach such radiative forcing levels, greenhouse gas emissions (and indirectly emissions of air pollutants) are reduced substantially, over time (Van Vuuren et al. 2007a).

        Turning for more details to “Stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations at low levels: an assessment of reduction strategies and costs“, Van Vuuren et al, Climatic Change, March 2007. It is all about mitigation actions we can take.

        The analysis takes into account a large number of reduction options, such as reductions of non-CO2 gases, carbon plantations and measures in the energy system.
        … We specifically focus on the following questions:
        What portfolios of measures could constitute promising strategies for stabilizing GHG concentrations at 650, 550 and 450 ppm CO2-eq. and below?
        What are the cost levels involved in such strategies and what are the implications for the energy sector, investment strategies and fuel trade?
        How do uncertainties in the potentials and costs of various options.

      • The first quotes are just descriptive, saying what the emissions assumed are. The last is explicitly a paper about strategies for emission reduction – how such scenarios could be achieved. Of course, the point of doing RCP experiments is to invite people to figure what scenarios they think are likely, including mechanisms for achieving them. That’s what you are doing too, and concluding that 8.5 is unlikely. That’s why they offer 6, 4.5 and 2.6. The scenarios themselves are just “representative” quantitative starting points for modelling.

      • Nick,
        I’ve been a good sport, but now you’re just playing word games with us. I’ll play wack a mole with you in a sixth round. Since you’ve run out of substantive objections, I’ll consider you original comment of “That’s pretty dumb” to have been refuted.
        “The first quotes are just descriptive, saying what the emissions assumed are.”
        I don’t know what that means. I followed the papers through to show that RCP2.6 assumes mitigation actions — to refute your claim.
        “The last is explicitly a paper about strategies for emission reduction”
        Since that’s what I said — and you denied — I assume you’re withdrawing your objection.
        “the point of doing RCP experiments is to invite people to figure what scenarios they think are likely, including mechanisms for achieving them.”
        Obvious much?
        “That’s what you are doing too, and concluding that 8.5 is unlikely.”
        Congrats for showing that you read what I wrote!
        “That’s why they offer 6, 4.5 and 2.6. The scenarios themselves are just “representative” quantitative starting points for modelling.”
        Obvi. But you have ignored the key point: RCP8.5 is often described as a “business as usual” scenario, used to scare people about a future without mitigation actions. It is not.

    • Nick,
      You are talking to the wrong crowd. We know the 8.5 scenario is ridiculous. Please explain that to the President, the EPA, and others who repeat the wild scenarios to scare people into accepting the draconian fixes proposed which will ruin our economy. These are the scenarios played in the MSM to get the populace on board with total government control of energy. Maybe you could even enlighten Jim Hansen, Al Gore and John Kerry and the Dems in Congress.

    • Nick: The IPCC, asociates and assorted media and propaganda organs have chosen rcp8.5 as the “business as usual” case. This case is also used by over 80 % of further research on global warming impacts by thousands of scientists who have been misled about the likelihood that RCP 8.5 is feasible.
      I’d like to add that I see what I call a Cornucopian attitude about fossil fuel resources in these discussions. Those of us who know the fossil fuel business realize we are running out of resources, and that RCP8.5 projections about oil resources are quite ridiculous and unsupported. I think the coal picture is also grim, not as grim as oil, which is simply running out in a hurry.
      After seeing the reactions to comments about the utter nuttiness we see in rcp8.5 I’ve decided to call its use by the IPCC and government agencies an orchestrated case of scientific and political fraud. The process used to specify 8.5 and den and its creation, and it’s use as business as usual qualify as a gigantic case of fraud. It’s indefensible, and dishonest to give it the use it gas been given.
      Those who think we do have an endless supply of fossil fuels can keep on dreaming. Reality will bite, and hard sometime before 2030. And please don’t bs me about who predicted peak oil when. I never made a prediction. I’ve been busy trying to get the stuff out of the ground. And now, today, I’m telling you the party will be over, soon.

      • “The IPCC, asociates and assorted media and propaganda organs have chosen rcp8.5 as the “business as usual” case.”
        Quotes? Links? Anything?

      • Nick,
        Are you playing “wack a mole” with us? We answer your objections, you say nothing — and come up with another objection. I wonder if you’ll play a few more rounds of this, look at the dust you’ve kicked in the air, and declare victory.
        “Quotes? Links? Anything?” {about RCP8.5 as “business as usual”}
        As with this. It’s something I mentioned 4 hours ago response to your objection. Ten seconds with Google finds many examples of RCP8.5 described as a “business as usual” scenario. Here are a few of the many examples, the first three from my search. Note: I don’t believe that AR5 said this.

        “The scenario with the most warming is the ‘business-as-usual’ RCP8.5, in which global mean temperature could be 4°C or more above pre-industrial times.”
        Matt Collins (Professor in Climate Systems at Exeter University) at Climatica.

        “What we see so far is that the only business-as-usual scenario among the RCPs is RCP8.5, a high-end business-as-usual scenario.”
        — John Nielsen-Gammon (Texas State Climatologist, Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at Texas A&M)

        “Compared to the scenario literature RCP8.5 depicts thus a relatively conservative business as usual case with low income, high population and high energy demand due to only modest improvements in energy intensity.”
        Riahi et al. 2011.

      • “We answer your objections, you say nothing”
        I answer promptly, as you can see from the times; you don’t see it for a while, because all my posts here go through moderation.
        “Ten seconds with Google finds many examples of RCP8.5”
        So why not put them up front. It’s good journalism. We could see what you have. It isn’t much.
        I repeat again what the IPCC said, right up in Box 1 in the SPM:
        “This information is often expressed as a scenario of human activities, which are not assessed in this report.”
        The IPCC does not make claims about the origins of the scenarios. They are for users to match with what they think will happen. CMIP5 provides the data.
        So what do you have. Matt Collins uses the words, but puts them in quotes. Doesn’t sound like an affirmation. A blog post by Nielsen-Gammon, headed “What Is Business As Usual?”. It seems the IPCC isn’t telling him. He thinks:
        “Back in January, fellow CCNF columnist and Texas A&M University colleague Andrew Dessler used the RCP8.5 projections as an estimate of what “unchecked” emissions would do to the climate, in his written testimony to the Senate. I conclude below that this is a slight overestimate, and that (fortunately for us) lack of action probably wouldn’t lead to quite so large an impact.”
        Well, maybe that’s a sort of vote from Dessler, but not so much from N-G.
        And Riahi?
        “Compared to the total set of Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs), RCP8.5 thus corresponds to the pathway with the highest greenhouse gas emissions.”
        he describes how they came up with such a number to check. I don’t see “business as usual” there.
        But where does your argument go. You can no doubt come up with people who think 8.5 is what will happen if we do nothing. You don’t. You think maybe it is more like 6.5. The IPCC isn’t adjudicating. So?
        Let me remind you of what you are defending.
        “The latest are fears about the coal apocalypse, based on forecasts that the fuel of the 21st Century will be that of the 19th C: coal. This is the basis for the IPCC’s projections.”

      • The trolling never stops…

        Nick Stokes July 21, 2015 at 10:34 pm
        “We answer your objections, you say nothing”
        I answer promptly, as you can see from the times; you don’t see it for a while, because all my posts here go through moderation.
        ==================================================
        Yes you misdirect and write things, but you do not answer. What the IPCC says in the fine print is irrelevant to what they say in the summaries and or to the media. (You never addressed this.)
        Nick continues quoting the author…“Ten seconds with Google finds many examples of RCP8.5″
        So why not put them up front. It’s good journalism. We could see what you have. It isn’t much.
        ===============================
        Gads, see point one about the media you never addressed. Hell, ten seconds of search is a lot more then your willful missing the point. There are dozens of examples of hyped media reports from scientist regarding CAGW often presented in some IPCC summaries. The IPCC purposefully chooses to use the modeled mean of a large group of models which are consistently wrong in ONE direction, to warm. This is anti science. From that point of a modeled mean FAR ABOVE observations, they then predict inflated horror stories of potential harm from increased droughts, floods fires, earthquakes SL rise etc, all based on the anti science modeled mean used by the IPCC.

      • Nick,
        (1) “You can no doubt come up with people who think 8.5 is what will happen if we do nothing.”
        There is “no doubt” because I have done so. If you didn’t believe it was a significant point, then you shouldn’t have asked for documentation about it.
        (2) “And Riahi? … I don’t see “business as usual” there.”
        That seems quite an odd reply since I gave a quote from Riahi saying it was “business as usual”.
        (3) I give you specific quotes and citations about the role of mitigation in the RCPs — from the papers that AR5 cites as the source material for the RCP’s — and you ignore them.
        I could continue, but there is no point to this. You see what you want to see, and interpret things to fit your views despite the plain sense of the evidence. It’s sad, really.

      • Nick, I can find thousands of trails leading from the IPCC organization, committee members, participating leaders, etc, to subsequent summaries, reports, press statements, interviews, etc.
        Let me give you a link to an interview by a senior IPCC participant:
        http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2014/s4120801.htm
        Note the use of business as usual to refer to rcp8.5 (this is clear by the temperature projections she mentions).
        Here’s a presentation which also ties rcp8.5 to business as usual
        http://www.europeanclimate.org/documents/IPCCWebGuide.pdf
        Slides 13 to 16 are particularly relevant.
        I don’t want this comment to be too long, I’ll be back with part Ii.

      • Here’s an example of how RCP8.5 morphs into “business as usual” in IPCC sessions. This is an official IPCC press conference., loaded on YouTube. The press conference includes Pachauri and several working group co chairs.
        Focus on minute 18 and 53 seconds, this section includes a graph with the RCP pathways, the speaker is Edenhofer.
        http://youtu.be/XpugsLBs3Gw

  4. Did they really say the year 2500???? Really?? What the frell are we going to have – coal-powered spaceships? Have these people no imagination at all? We haven’t a clue what energy sources mankind will be using in 2500 but it sure as heck isn’t going to be coal!! Morons!

    • Poor people, in artisan fashion, will still be dragging it out of the ground in gunnysacks, at great danger.
      I suspect forever.
      =================

    • And why not?
      You may be familiar with that ol’ saying:
      If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it
      As for fusion:
      If it don’t work, force it….or go broke trying.

    • my thoughts exactly.
      who predicted 20 years ago that improved drilling techniques would clean up fossil fuel emissions of CO2? It is counter intuitive. Find a better way to drill for fossil fuels and this will reduce CO2 emissions from fossil fuels.
      no windmills or solar panels have come close to matching the reduction in CO2 from facking. Yet governments promote windmills and solar panels while hindering fracking.
      No doubt, if short sighted government policies continue, we will be burning coal in 2500. Since they cannot imagine what will replace coal, it cannot happen.

      • Ferd,
        Excellent points, yet the government(s) are constantly coming up with regulations to stop fracking even though it has saved the USA economy for the last 6 years and kept energy costs low. I consult with a large chemical company that now is building plants in the US although they previously declared that they would never build more plants in the US. That’s JOBS. It is difficult to believe that we have several state legislatures and Governors with members so uninformed as to ban fracking lacking any sound technical information.

    • Anything anybody projects about the year 2500 is pure fantasy, science fantasy at best. Considering the always increasing rate at which technology is affecting our lives there is no valid way to predict that far. Already scientists and engineers are pushing at and questioning the boundaries of modern physics. The problems we are experiencing in the present will either be solved or bypassed by going in another direction. There may be hundreds or thousands of such branchings by the year 2500.
      If we allow the green agenda to continue to stifle progress and innovation we will be robbing that generation of 2500 of a richer legacy handed up from us. This could very well take important options off the table for them.

      • Anything anybody projects about the year 2500 is pure fantasy, science fantasy at best. Considering the always increasing rate at which technology is affecting our lives there is no valid way to predict that far.

        So very, very, very true. Imagine people in 1515 trying to predict the present. First of all, they’d get burned at the stake if they came anywhere close to being right, and some of them, like Bruno, were. Second, forget technology. The sociology of life was completely different. Feudal culture in revolution (new world just discovered). I read SF constantly. Go back fifty years, let alone 500, and see how many professional visionaries could have imagined my cell phone and its CPU that would have been classified as a munition and under export restriction twenty five years ago.
        The only thing we can be reasonably certain of is that we have almost no idea what the future will be like a mere ten or twenty years from now. Perhaps Islam will be taking over the world. Perhaps fusion will have completely replaced all other sources of energy but a grandfathered end-of-life use of gasoline in antique cars. Perhaps we will be extinct (our fault). Perhaps we will be extinct (gamma ray burst). Perhaps civilization will have collapsed (Coronal Mass Ejection fries electrical grid of whole globe in one day, returns Earth to 19th century life worldwide overnight, one billion people die and global war kills another billion before services are restored). Perhaps… each of them a possible story, a possible future, and we can’t even imagine all of the cases, and the future may well be one we can’t even imagine (aliens land, enslave/eat/liberate humanity, humans discover star drive that runs on car batteries, diaspora into the Universe begins).
        rgb

    • Hopefully, advances in colloidal coatings and metallurgy will make thorium the standard of power generation by 2100.
      …Mostly wishful thinking, I guess, but it would also solve the dilemma of long term waste storage by using it up.

    • Sodium Fast Reactors with metal fuel and pyroprocessing to recycle spent fuel have been available for implementation since 1998. GE-Hitachi SPRISM design received preliminary NRC approval in 1992.
      This design can power the entire world at US energy consumption level for 1000 years. It improves uranium efficiency over Light Water Reactors by a factor of about 200. With a Super Critical CO2 Brayton Cycle for power conversion, SFR thermal efficiency at 500C is about 25% better than LWR efficiency at 325C.
      Spent fuel waste is reduced from 25 tons per year for a 1 GWe LWR to 1 ton per year for a 1 GWe SFR. Since transuranic elements are recycled and waste is limited to fission products, the radioactivity levels of the waste return to background radiation levels within 400 years.
      The reactor is inherently, walk away safe. As temperature increases, the reactivity of the reactor decreases primarily due to the expansion of the metallic fuel. The reactor operates at ambient pressure greatly reducing the risk from accident scenarios. The reactor design uses passive decay heat removal. Smaller reactors are also inherently more safe than larger reactors.
      Capital costs are greatly reduced using the factory manufactured Small Modular Reactor concept. 10 x 100 MWe reactors can implement a 1 GWe reactor. The power density of a SFR is 5 – 10 times greater than a LWR further reducing reactor size. 70-80% of the cost of fission electricity is capital. Implementing small capacity increases closely timed to demand increases significantly increases capacity utilization driving down capital cost per kWhr. Factory manufacture reduces the construction schedule further reducing capital costs. Much smaller project capital costs reduce financial risk reducing the cost of capital.
      Increasing global nuclear capacity from 400 GWe to 20,000 GWe by 2100 implies manufacture of 200,000 x 100 GWe reactors over a period of about 80 years. This is sufficient volume to ensure factory manufacture of standard designs is commercially feasible.
      Security of supply is assured for SFR reactors. Initially 200 tons of uranium is mined and enriched to 15% for a 5 ton initial core and 195 tons of depleted uranium. With onsite pyroprocess recycling, the 195 tons of depleted uranium would fuel the reactor for 195 years. With security of supply, regional enrichment plants become politically feasible reducing the threat of state level proliferation. The transport of nuclear material is almost eliminated thereby reducing both accidental and terrorist threats. Pyroprocess recycling does not separate plutonium from the actinides making it unsuitable for bomb development.
      Sodium is not corrosive of ordinary stainless steel. When electromagnetic pumps, with no moving parts, are used to move metallic sodium, reactor lifetimes of 100 years are easily envisaged and 200 years are not unreasonable.
      The Linear No Threshold theory of radiation damage is as flawed as CO2 driven climate theory. Biological processes designed to repair DNA damage from both metabolic processes and background radiation ensure that low dose radiation is harmless and may actually be beneficial ie. hormesis. The NRC regulatory process that has been used to shut down the nuclear industry in the US is based upon the flawed LNT theory.
      In Fukushima Prefecture 1600 people died from the tsunami and earthquake, no people died or are expected to die from radiation, and 1600 people died in the evacuation to save them from radiation effects.
      A rational nuclear regulatory process would license reactor designs based upon development of a prototype at the Idaho National Laboratory with a demonstration of walk away safety and license reactor sites implementing licensed designs similar to any other energy plant.
      A national energy strategy that used nuclear fission for electricity generation rather than coal and natural gas, electricity for heating rather than natural gas, and natural gas and coal converted to methanol for transportation would prevent OPEC from raising the price of oil above about $50 per barrel. It would also have the unintended effect of reducing CO2 emissions by at least 50%.
      Liquid fueled uranium and thorium reactors are still R&D projects, thorium especially. I suspect that is why Big Green has been promoting them over SFR. Nonetheless, if the Uranium Carbonate process to produce hydrogen from water at 650C becomes commercially attractive, then uranium liquid fueled reactors operating at 650C become extremely attractive. The sulfur iodine process to produce hydrogen from water at 850C using a reactor as a heat source, requires significant materials research.
      Using nuclear to produce hydrogen from water, combining hydrogen with CO2 separated from the air to produce methanol, and using methanol for transportation is a possible path in the transition from fossil fuels to nuclear fission power.

  5. Some fusion developers are sounding pretty sanguine (http://www.generalfusion.com/). As with global warming, I have no way to tell how realistic the projections are. I turn to WUWT to find out what is really going on with polar ice, ENSO, the sun and others. Since fusion has the potential to be the complete game changer in IPCC modelling (though perhaps not in AGW since AGW probably isn’t real), it would be really nice to have a regularly updated credibility analysis for fusion claims. Can I tell my kids with some confidence that there may be enough hope on the horizon that they can turn down the heat a bit on the media induced state of paranoia in which they live?

    • For true fusion (strong force proton/proton fusion after overcoming the Coulomb barrier)the NIT demonstrates that inertial confinement isn’t going to work. Low beta tokomak) ITER results won’t be known for another decade, but the difficulties and cost to date are not encouraging for commercialization. Lockheed Skunkworks high beta approach is new; Lockheed is hopeful. Still a decade away. Essay Going Nuclear
      LENR isn’t fusion. Its a weak force phenomenon converting heavy electrons to cold neutrons in an energy consuming cascade followed by energy release from beta decay of unstable H4 into stable He3. Widom Larsen physics. Whether that could ever be more than a lab curiosity is unknown. Example in The Arts of Truth.

      • Does there seem to be anything to General Fusion’s Magnetized Target Fusion? Are there other fusion technologies out there? Is thorium fission all it is touted to be? One would think these would be interesting questions.

      • ‘ Is thorium fission all it is touted to be?
        ..
        Check out the details of the third core that was installed in the Shippingport nuclear reactor by Admiral Rickover around August 1977.
        ..

      • BCBill, for thorium LFTR go to blog EnegyMatters. There is a new guest post by a French nuclear scientist that you will find educational. Much unjustified blogosphere thorium hype/hope. There is another breeder pathway that’s as promising. And which has as much fuel potential. Both need more R&D.

    • Ristvan,
      “Both need R&D”
      You went to the heart of the debate. We have promising lines of research, but these scientists are starved for funding. Projects like EMC2’s Polywell languish for lack of funding that amounts to pocket lint at the Pentagon.
      There are many reasons for this, but high among them is the dogma that “the debate is over” and the solution is policy action to force decarbonization. IMO that’s quite mad, a “hair shirt” solution that predictably gets strong opposition and little support from the public.

  6. Where is the Science? Theories (grounded in math/experiments/reality) must have a deflating valve called ‘falsifiable results’. If you observe something that deflates your theory — you are wrong and must try again.
    Where is the Real Science in climate studies that says if this happens we are wrong. If this happens we may be on track but can still be wrong when new data comes in. Where are the ‘falsifiable’ outcomes from the climate studies?

    • We’re supposed to believe that the situation is too urgent for all that “impedance of the war on climate change” Anything that stands in the way of victory against CO2 pollution in Paris must be pushed aside because we’re saving the planet from anthropogenic destruction.
      Gosh, this is a cool movie and WE are the stars!
      That is what the president wants everyone to think.

  7. On coal, two observations.
    First, Caltech’ Rutledge, UT Austin’s Patzek, and Uppsala’s Aleklett have papers estimating peak coal production (energy, not tons) between 2040 and 2060. For geophysical and economic reasons, not climate change or EPA. Changes in coal rank abundance, nature of seams, coal quality (sulfur, ash)… All coal is not created equal, and some will be too expensive compared to alternatives. Book Gaia’s Limits.
    Second, China. Peak coal production by 2020; already major imports from Australia. Met coal consumption will decline as primary steel prosuction capacity is curtailed, and secondary steel production (from scrap) increases. Steam coal will stop growing sometime between 2020 and 2030. They are building more nuclear. They are bringing in Russian gas. The first successful fracked gas is being produced from the Sichuan basin. China has several other know shale gas basins, and may have even larger shale gas TRR than the US. CCGT is more efficient, faster and less costly to build, and cheaper than coal at any gas price below $8/mbtu.
    On both grounds RCP8.5 was never realistic. BAU is something a bit less than RCP6.0.

    • As usual you put it better than I do. I’m starting to get old, I guess. But every time I see another discussion about an impact based on rcp8.5 I start to see red.

    • We don’t always agree, but I agree with everything you said here, for sure. RCP 6 is already probably a bit pessimistic, and according to my own best fits is at most just over a degree C of extra warming. 1 C more is probably an upper bound before we stop using coal as a primary energy source.
      Which I sincerely hope happens sooner, because coal is a nearly essential ingredient in the manufacture of things like concrete and steel, in addition to many organic compounds. IMO while we are not exactly squandering it on energy — it has built civilization so far like nothing else could have — it would be generally wise to transition to other sources of energy (ideally ones that can last at least thousands of years if not millions) as soon as possible WHILE we still have coal to bridge the gap without a general collapse of civilization or perpetuation of human poverty worldwide.
      rgb

  8. Predictions of energy usage are necessary for modelling but subject to immense uncertainties.
    Using coal largely to meet the balance of energy demand plays to the case the climate scientists want to make, but is no more rational than using nuclear, wind or solar.
    If we reflect back 85 years at what would then have been forecast as an energy source today, nuclear would be regarded as implausible (as fusion today), solar, wind and tidal as technically unfeasible, and gas (other than coal) largely unexploitable.
    It’s no wonder the public have little faith in climate projections!

  9. All these predictions are absolutely insane. They act as if no new power technology will come on board
    for decades,if then. They also fail to note the new molten salt fission reactors or understand what their power output will look like (they assume heat). Transatomic Power has redesigned the molten salt reactor
    and has solid estimates of build costs and operational costs and the news is very good. These reactors simply cannot experience any sort of dangerous failures – meltdowns are impossible and no human intervention is needed should an accident occur. These plants are relatively small (500MW), although larger than typical small modular reactors, and are constructed in factories – they require only a fraction of the masssive containment concrete and steel of a typical water reactor. They can burn nuclear wastes, making their fuel costs insignificant. and ridding the world of most of the problem with nuclear wastes.
    Build costs are roughly 1/2 to 2/3rds that of a conventional reactor and fuel costs practically zero,regardless of whether they burn nuclear wastes or uranium (or Thorium), resulting in power costs well below that of a water reactor and probably less than the cost of coal. It will be the cheapest power provider. Look to commercialization within this decade. My bet is on this technology – I think it will run the tables.

    • “These reactors simply cannot experience any sort of dangerous failure”

      That statement reminds me of the “unsinkable titanic” and the Tacoma Narrows bridge.

      • The Tacoma Narrows bridge was affected by a phenomena that was unknown at the time. To compare it to the Titanic is sloppy at best.

      • Congrats Patrick…

        …a phenomena that was unknown at the time.”

        Do you think there might be an unknown phenomena with molten salts that we don’t know about?

      • No. Not since there have been a couple of development molten salt reactors operating since the 50’s. But you go on believing the Titanic was a dangerous failure that was not preventable, even at the design stage!

  10. I was interested to note that the contribution of wind energy in the first graph was virtually invisible (as opposed to the actual bird-choppers!). Then I was MORE interested to note that I could not discern the ‘Savings’ on the graph at all. This set me to wondering how one would graph ‘Savings.’ I suppose it could be graphed as a positive value showing the actual projected amount versus the pseudo projected amount discounting anything that could be done to save energy, like CFL and LED bulbs and CAFE standards. But surely all the billions of dollars spent (often at gunpoint) on energy-saving technologies would generate some visible line on the graph, and there’s nothing there.
    Perhaps I am looking at it wrong, and ‘Savings’ is a negative quantity and the zero-ordinal graph doesn’t show it, or it is behind the other curves.
    I am befuddled…

    • Me too, I was squinting away furiously for the ‘savings’. I thought I’d found it, and then realised it was the wind power slice. All that environmental degradation and human misery for next-to-nothing.
      Jesus wept!

    • How much has fossil fuel use declined in Germany and by how much has co2 emissions been reduced? Virtually nil despite almost 90% nameplate capacity of “free” renewables.

  11. Has China begun srubbing the smoke stacks of their coal fired powered electricity producing stations? How about thorium powered energy producing stations? Technology seems to lead towards these types of nuclear reactors to produce energy.

  12. Salute!
    What is really sad to most of us that want a clean atmosphere, clean water, reduced destruction of land due to mining or de-forestation and so on, are engineers/fishermen/campers/farmers/ gardeners and on and on, is that the “greenies” do not realize how greedy and self-centered they are. They do not have a clue about the consequences upon the world if they “get their way”. Makes me cry. Most prolly do not live more than a mile from a convenience store or grow/trap their food. They get their latte from Starbucks and plot how the rest of we serfs shall live, but not them!!!
    See Clancy’s Rainbow Six solution.
    The most environmentally friendly folks are hunters and fishermen and farmers/gardeners. They pay the bills for many programs that help restore and preserve habitat and even save actual animal species from the edge of extinction.
    Gums opines…

    • Gums at 12:10 PM
      Well said. My family has been in ranching for a hundred years. I graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering in Water and Pollution as a specialty. I “retired” to farming and then retired from that so I could spend more time with my horses and skiing. I live 45 km from anywhere and I do not despair for the future of my grandchildren. For a 100 years, we have had drought, flooding, frost, hail, and sometimes a decent crop – looks a lot like weather to me living out here. Weather is spotty. Some places this year are a disaster from lack of rain. I have had to redo ditching in my pastures due to so much rain. Other years, the rain has missed me and grasshoppers have eaten my hay crop down to nothing.
      People in the city only see the news and the news only publishes “newsworthy” items so we get a distorted view of the world.
      However, there will be problems for us this year due to lack of hay in Alberta this year. Those with a good crop will get very good prices, and those with poor crops will have to sell their animals or pay extremely high prices for feed this winter. But it’s been that way for as long as I can remember – many of my relatives left farming and ranching in the 30’s and 40’s because a city job was much more stable. And farming practices meant a section of land (640 acres) was getting too small to be economic in many locations as tractors replaces horses and huge tractors replaced little tractors.
      We adapt and move on, just like the fish in Eastern Australia.
      We can use coal in many ways besides turning into particulate matter in the atmosphere. Coal use will adapt.
      I fear not for my grandchildren for they will also adapt.
      https://www.dropbox.com/s/umoplm1yornxek2/IMG_0390.jpg?dl=0
      https://www.dropbox.com/s/4w88rks8nttbk7b/100%20Years.jpg?dl=0

  13. Still not convinced that CO2 released from using fossil fuels is the poison that IPCC promulgates. So why not continue using coal? As economically as possible, and adopting more efficient technologies as they come forward, but as a matter of maximising conservation of the remaining resource rather than to “save the planet”.

  14. I don’t believe that burning coal does much of anything to warm the planet, and may do the opposite to some small degree. Certainly the CO2 released by burning coal has no warming impact at all. But it can be dirty, and at some point we need to look at thorium based reactors. Especially the type that can help burn up plutonium that we have in storage now.
    But there is no rush to jump to thorium as we can use coal for a long, long time to come. Africa would probably be better off having a lot of relatively low tech coal plants rather than a lot of thorium plants. (but I don’t know for sure on that)
    “Thorium Power Is the Safer Future of Nuclear Energy” … http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/crux/2015/01/16/thorium-future-nuclear-energy/

    • Africa has plenty of coal and plenty of people without adequate, or any, electricity, but they can’t get financing for coal plants. World Bank and other Western institutions refuse to finance them for greenish reasons. China has stepped in, but it remains to be seen how much gets done.
      Available electric power greatly increases productivity, and that increases wealth across all economic strata. That was shown in China, but they did it without primary pollution controls, and are now choking in smog. Basic plants with basic scrubbers would go a long way toward improving life in Africa.

      • I’ve made this comment on another thread, but 50 years from now when they ask an African “who saved your people from starvation?”, the reply will be “China”. That will be our eternal shame.

      • Yes, coal is not dirty or pollution with modern power plants. Yes, we have centuries of coal. No, we will not need to use it all, but all indications are that 700 ppm CO2 is primarily net beneficial.

      • “Mike McMillan
        July 21, 2015 at 2:26 pm”
        Not sure the Chinese are in anyway interested in improving the lives of Africans while they extract resources using their own workforce. I know this to have been true in Ethiopia in about 2007.

      • Ingenuity is equal to the maze…
        “The waste from coal power plants doesn’t have to be a waste. It can be recycled into a wide variety of materials, from concrete to fertilizer. Fly ash, the fine, powdery silica material that is part of the coal ash waste stream, in fact, has an array of physical and chemical properties that have led to inventive ideas for new applications. Entrepreneurs are looking at ideas for using it to build lighter armored vehicles or to clean up oil spills”
        “Every ton of Portland cement made—by heating limestone and clay to thousands of degrees—creates four-fifths of a ton of carbon dioxide. And with 62 million tons of cement produced in 2010 in the United States, reducing the industry’s reliance on Portland cement would have significant environmental benefits.”
        “Another unusual use: coal ash particles have a chemical structure that can easily be manipulated to absorb oil. Sudipta Seal of the University of Central Florida has created “functionalized” fly ash particles he calls OOPS, or Oil Optimized Particle Surfaces. His work was funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation shortly after last year’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.”

      • Joel D. Jackson:
        If you really do think the positives of coal usage are negated by the negatives of coal usage then you are insane.
        Richard

    • Mark– China plans to have a grid-scale Thorium Molten Salt Reactor (MSR) design ready for large-scale rollout by 2023 (their first test MSR goes online this year…).
      It’s theoretically possible MSR electricity costs could be as low as $0.03/kWh, which is roughly 50% cheaper than coal and 10 TIMES cheaper than wind/solar. Moreover, thorium’s supply is virtually unlimited and requires no special processing other than purification.
      In addition, revenue streams from MSR waste heat used to desalinate seawater and/or synthesizing cheap hydrocarbons (jet fuel, diesel, plastics, solvents, fertilizers, etc.), in addition to sales of rare radioactive isotopes produced by MSRs, would bring the electrical costs down to near zero and still make MSR plants profitable.
      If China is successful in developing MSRs, a second wave of industrial production will shift to China to take advantage of their cheap, clean and unlimited supply of electricity. China will eventually export $100’s of billions of turnkey MSR power plants around the world.
      I fear the West’s failure to rapidly develop MSR technology will quicken its already steep economic decline as the West wastes $trillions on CO2 sequestration regulations and on insanely expensive and inefficient solar, wind and biofuel fiascos…
      Even when MSRs become viable, the West’s paranoia against ANYTHING nuclear will delay construction of MSRs for decades. Can you image the YEARS or even decades of local, state and federal red-tape regulations that will be required to get EVERY MSR plant site approved by Western bureaucracies? Jeez…
      Oh, the irony… China moves to capitalism, while the West moves to Socialism. Leftists have pretty much assured the West’s economic destruction…

      • SAMURAI….. If you can use the MSR waste heat to desalinate seawater and/or for synthesizing cheap hydrocarbons, why don’t they do that with the waste heat from regular nuclear plants, or even the waste heat from a coal burning plant?

      • Joel– Light Water Reactors use very dangerous high-pressure steam at around 375C at 60~70 atmospheres. After passing through the steam turbines, the steam falls to only 275C, which is insufficient for desalination.
        MSRs use molten salts at just ONE atmosphere of pressure to heat gas up to 1,100C+ to run gas turbine engines. The gas turbine waste heat is around 750+C, which is sufficient to desalinate seawater and synthesize hydrocarbons….

      • @ SAMURAI
        Great comment. Thanks. Especially thanks for the waste heat explanation as I did not know about that part of the issue.
        And thanks for the comment on the west moving towards socialism as China moves in the opposite direction. We libertarians have been saying that for years now. Socialism kills societies.

  15. Did they sequester more carbon in printing their 6000 page document than they generated in creating the document?

  16. The RPC 8.5 chart also shows oil peaking after 2060, so they also over-estimate known crude reserves. Hydro almost doubles, but nuclear doesn’t take off until late in the century.

    • They grossly over estimate crude oil and condensate extractable resources (never mind reserves). To be honest, I doubt if the IPCC types can tell the difference between crude oil and condensate and NGL. The USA energy information agency doesn’t help when it mixes products. This is picked up by the media and we end up with all these misleading graphs and pathetic claims about USA oil independence. The USA isn’t about to be oil independent. It won’t be in the future until world oil production has started declining and prices will dictate significant cut backs as well as alternate energy sources. And production of light crudes and condensates from “shales” won’t do the job either. The USA has huge natural gas resources, not as much as people think, but they are big. But the oil story is different. And for the rest of the world it’s worse. A lot worse.

  17. This analysis is misguided on so many levels I don’t even know how to begin. Anyway.

    The IPCC foresees a hot dirty future for the world, in which coal use increases to become the major source of power for the world.

    Coal need not be dirty. If it is burnt properly in modern power plants, there is hardly any emissions except carbon dioxide.
    The American legal system is just crazy. The U.S. Supreme Court may have declared CO2 to be a pollutant in 2007, in the legal sense of the word, giving EPA unconstrained authority to regulate it, however, it does not actually make it a pollutant. In order to fall into that category, it should have endangered public health and welfare, but that’s not the case.
    Or, it is only the case if projections by computational climate models are to be believed. However, they fail on so many points compared to observations, that this stance can’t be maintained any more, except by courts or environmental activists perhaps.
    Therefore a coal burning future is not only not necessarily dirty, but it is not even hot.
    Alternative energy sources like wind &. solar are utterly untenable. They have a low power flux density, so their environmental footprint is inevitably huge. On top of that they are intermittent, which makes installation of an equivalent backup capacity necessary. But that costs an insane amount of money, to be payed by the consumer.
    Fusion energy is a promise, of course, but it was never proven.
    On the other hand, nuclear fission can supply our energy needs for the rest of the Solar System’s lifetime, so even after coal reserves run out, there is no danger of energy poverty whatsoever.
    In fact one ton of ordinary granite, the default stuff continents are made of contains as much recoverable energy (in the form of its Thorium &. Uranium content) as 50 tons of coal, and we’ll never run out of continents for sure. Of course we have plenty of ore much better than that, for millennia, but I am talking about sustainability on a billion years time scale.
    The only notion we have to give up is that we already have nuclear power plants. We don’t. The things called by that name are actually Cold War Plutonium factories, with a small amount of power output as a byproduct. Their fuel efficiency is abysmal, something like half a percent or so.
    That’s why we have so much nuclear waste, with long half life isotopes in it, to be stored safely for hundreds of thousand years. It’s nothing but barely burnt stuff, only activated. Good for nuclear weapons, but nothing else. Insane.
    Fortunately we already have the right technology. It was not invented recently, but half a century ago and it was not only invented, but was tested as well.
    It provides everything one would wish for. Passive safety with no pressurized, explosive or flammable stuff in the reactor, self-regulation with no sophisticated control system, passive cooling on shutdown, that is no energy needs while offline, only a small amount of fissionable fuel in the core at any one time, no long half life isotopes in waste, which itself is a hundred times less for the same energy output due to its high fuel efficiency, than we are used to with our current, hopelessly obsolete nuclear technology.
    The initiative was killed by the joint effort of the military-industrial complex and the peace- &. environmental movement. And, should coal be killed prematurely, the uncontested financial winner is Big Oil, the rest of the world serving as an inexhaustible source of pathetic losers. Hallelujah.

    • Coal contains massive amounts of stored solar energy. So, providing you can scrub out the nasties, the main side effect of burning it is to feed the world’s plants – and, therefore, everything else on Earth.
      What a fantastic resource!

    • Got news for you. Big oil will be a winner in price/bbl, but not bbl, terms. Several essays exploring various aspects of that /bbl assertion in Blowing Smoke: essays on energy and climate.

      • It’s not bbls Big Oil (&. natural gas) cares about, but profit. As soon coal is regulated out of the market (because it has twice as much CO2 emission for the same energy output), with no competition left, there is virtually no limit to rising prices. That’s the game.
        Of course, in a sane world nuclear would be the uncontested winner (as it will be in the long run), but we are living in an insane one.
        And the only thing these guys care less about than quantity, is the long run. It’s always the next quarter what matters, or the next few years at best, but only from a strategic perspective.

  18. There is no reason NOT to burn coal.
    It is cheap and reliable.
    Modern power stations are clean and getting cleaner, removing most of the real toxins.
    It is also highly beneficial in its release of CO2, the gas that ultimately feeds the world.
    Hopefully, some day, we can achieve 700ppm as a minimum atmospheric CO2 percentage.

  19. I don’t care which energy source the world prefers. It has zero impact on temperature. Reducing smog makes sense, but that can be done by capturing it rather than switching fuel. The IPCC are just a bunch of frauds so anything they have to say is irrelevant

    • The tiny amount of CO2 in the atmosphere does raise the temperature. In general, the more CO2, the higher the surface temperature. In some cases CO2 has the opposite effect, but that’s confined to Antarctica as far as I know. I’ve always seen this as a how much does it raise the temperature now, how much will it raise the temperature in the future, and what do we do about it.

      • CO2 is suppose to have the largest impact on air is regions. Antarctica is the most air is region on earth.
        [“most air” ?? “Driest air”, perhaps, but not moist. .mod]

      • fernandoleanme July 21, 2015 at 4:09 pm: The tiny amount of CO2 in the atmosphere does raise the temperature.
        Evidence, please.

      • thanks moderator, I meant arid regions, Antarctica being extremely arid, it should have warmed far more if CAGW was a viable theory.

      • Michael, i suggest you read this post by Clive Best
        http://clivebest.com/blog/?p=1169
        The way I see this, the argument really ought to focus on how much warmer will it get due to phenomena we control (this includes actions such as making cement and growing rice as well as burning fossil fuels). We should debate whether the impact is really that bad (I worry about sea level rise because I live by the sea), and what should we do about it (birth control seems like a nice idea). As far as I’m concerned this was a sideshow until it became a very political issue. Now it’s mostly about politics. The politics is what keeps me looking into this. They are fascinating.

      • David, Antarctica is a bit different. It seems to be very isolated. I have access to the Argo buoy data and the ones circling around the sea ice sure seem to be getting colder. I see the same trend in the NOAA maps, we also see sea ice is growing. But West Antarctica, and the peninsula seem to have reduced ice mass. It’s a continent, so it’s hard to generalize.

  20. setting aside the fact China is producing nearly 4 billion tonnes of coal annually, and will no doubt increase its current usage once again if/when growth picks up:
    21 July: Hindustan Times: Increased coal production helps meet PM’s power promise
    by Suveen Sinha & Aman Malik
    It is only now, says Anil Swarup, that he fully understands what Prime Minister Narendra Modi told him when he first took charge as coal secretary. “Fix coal, fix the economy,” Modi had said. So Swarup, in the nine months since then, has gone about fixing coal and seen the fillip it is giving to power production and in turn to all kinds of economic activity, reducing imports and creating jobs.
    The transformation has been made possible by an unprecedented surge in Coal India’s output. The state-owned miner produced 494 million tonnes in 2014-15, an increase of 32 million tonnes over the previous year…
    The target for this financial year is 550 million tonnes…
    The government targets producing 1.5 billion tonnes of coal by 2019-20, the anticipated demand at that time, assuming 8 to 9% growth in the GDP. Of that, 1 billion tonnes is to come from Coal India…
    The rest is to come from private companies that have won blocks in the recent auctions that brought much needed transparency to this sector…
    http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/ht-special-increased-coal-production-helps-meet-pm-s-power-promise/article1-1371448.aspx
    18 July: UK Telegraph: Christopher Booker: C of E backs Pope in lunacy that could only hurt the poor
    The real irony is that the treaty the Pope and the C of E want us to pray for is not going to happen, because China and India, the countries already responsible between them for more than a third of all the world’s CO2 emissions (and rising fast), have no intention of signing it. The reason they give is that they see fossil fuels as the only way to lift more of their 2.5 billion people out of precisely that poverty the Pope and his chums so piously deplore.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/11748914/C-of-E-backs-Pope-in-lunacy-that-could-only-hurt-the-poor.html

    • Pat,
      It is unlikely that China’s growth will pick up. As I said above, it’s in the transition from their catch-up phase of double-digit GDP growth to far lower growth typical of middle-income nations. Plus their insanely high rates of capital expenditures is more likely to crash than rise, especially since so much of it is funded with debt.
      Also, China has passed the Lewis Point, the end of their cheap labor supply — also causing GDP growth to slow.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewis_Turning_Point

      • Also Fabius, do not forget the next transition in manufacturing is not to cheap labor, but to robots, allowing production to anyone with inexpensive energy.

      • I want to express my solidarity with the Chinese proletariate. The 500 million Chinese working in hard conditions, to satisfy the goals set by the communist party leadership as it implements a form of neo fascist capitalism, should have the right to form free unions and claim better benefits. China is ripe for labor and community organizers to bring them the light so they can overcome communist party oppression. The. Chinese people have the right to consume the same short life batteries and light bulbs they ship abroad.

      • David A.
        That’s a fascinating question: how will the new industrial revolution — just now starting — affect energy use? I’ve written scores of posts about this, but never thought of that issue. Worth consideration!
        We can only guess. Mass automation (fewer commuters) plus more telecommuting plus self-driving vehicles (more efficient) = all increase the economy’s energy efficiency.
        For more about the new industrial revolution see:
        http://fabiusmaximus.com/future/next-industrial-revolution-68679-2/

  21. China is by far the largest coal-burning country in the world, which is causing severe pollution problems in many large metropolitan and industrial areas.
    China realizes this obvious fact, which is why they’re rapidly developing Thorium Molten Salt Reactors (MSRs) to completely replace coal-fired plants as soon as possible.
    China’s first test MSR goes on line THIS YEAR and plans to have a grid-scale commercially viable MSR design completed by 2023 (10 years earlier than originally planned).
    While the West continues to waste $100’s of billions on expensive, inefficient and unviable wind/solar/biomass Green Elephants, China is well on its way to developing cheaper, cleaner and unlimited power through MSR technology.
    China is going to eat our lunch again, while silly Western political hacks propagandize and waste money on the disconfirmed CAGW hypothesis.

  22. The use of coal for heating and power generation will not end because we run out coal, it will end because it will become unnecessary. The Iron age has not yet finished, but many new materials are starting to take over.
    We still use stone even tho’ the stone age is finished, thus coal will always be used for something, and so will iron.
    The pace of discovery and innovation has been exponential, with no sign of a slow down. London was once 2ft deep in horse poo, and becoming unlivable that changed very quickly thanks to the Otto cycle.
    These fools spruiking doom and gloom have no concept of the inventiveness of people in the real world.

  23. Lewis,
    China is frantically building new power plants — esp nukes and alt energy — to provide not just for growth in electricity demand but also to replace current coal plants.
    “Mainland China has 26 nuclear power reactors in operation, 24 under construction, and more about to start construction. Additional reactors are planned, including some of the world’s most advanced, to give more than a three-fold increase in nuclear capacity to at least 58 GWe by 2020-21, then some 150 GWe by 2030, and much more by 2050. The impetus for increasing nuclear power share in China is increasingly due to air pollution from coal-fired plants.”
    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Country-Profiles/Countries-A-F/China–Nuclear-Power/

  24. fernandoleanme, July 21, 2015 at 3:47 pm
    I’d like to add that I see what I call a Cornucopian attitude about fossil fuel resources in these discussions. Those of us who know the fossil fuel business realize we are running out of resources, and that RCP8.5 projections about oil resources are quite ridiculous and unsupported.
    ========================
    http://lms.seos-project.eu/learning_modules/marinepollution/images/ers1_oil_seep.jpg
    European Remote Sensing 1 satellite radar image depicting natural oil seeps in the Santa Barbara Channel off Coal Oil Point, California, Jan. 13, 1996.
    Source: NASA (interpretation and caption; Image source: ESA)
    Cornucopian
    3. an abundant, overflowing supply.
    (dictionary.com)
    = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
    Raining hydrocarbons in the Gulf
    GeoTimes, June 2003
    “We’re dealing with this giant flow-through system where the hydrocarbons are generating now, moving through the overlying strata now, building the reservoirs now and spilling out into the ocean now,” Cathles says.
    = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
    World not running out of oil, say experts
    The Times, Jan 18, 2008
    ” A landmark study of more than 800 oilfields by Cambridge Energy Research Associates (Cera) has concluded that rates of decline are only 4.5 per cent a year, almost half the rate previously believed, leading the consultancy to conclude that oil output will continue to rise over the next decade.
    Peter Jackson, the report’s author, said: “We will be able to grow supply to well over 100million barrels per day by 2017.” Current world oil output is in the region of 85million barrels a day.
    The optimistic view of the world’s oil resource was also given support by BP’s chief economist, Peter Davies, who dismissed theories of “Peak Oil” as fallacious. Instead, he gave warning that world oil production would peak as demand weakened, because of political constraints, including taxation and government efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
    = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
    We were wrong on peak oil. There’s enough to fry us all
    George Monbiot, Guardian, July 2012
    “The facts have changed, now we must change too. For the past 10 years an unlikely coalition of geologists, oil drillers, bankers, military strategists and environmentalists has been warning that peak oil – the decline of global supplies – is just around the corner. We had some strong reasons for doing so: production had slowed, the price had risen sharply, depletion was widespread and appeared to be escalating. The first of the great resource crunches seemed about to strike.
    […]
    Some of us made vague predictions, others were more specific. In all cases we were wrong.
    […]
    In 2005 the investment banker Matthew Simmons maintained that “Saudi Arabia … cannot materially grow its oil production”. (Since then its output has risen from 9m barrels a day to 10m, and it has another 1.5m in spare capacity.)
    […]
    Peak oil hasn’t happened, and it’s unlikely to happen for a very long time.”
    = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
    A switch from fossil to abiotic petroleum will improve your attitude and your forecasts, Fernando.
    Also, freaking out about the effect of our “carbon pollution” on the planet isn’t compatible with freaking out about the imminent demise of the alleged problem. I give credit to Monbiot for finally working that one out. Maybe you will too one day. 🙂

    • Khwarizmi, I’ve been in the oil and gas business since 1975. You do need a lot of training, but this isn’t the right place for me to start lecturing. Why don’t you open a blog and we can debate there, or you visit my blog and start a debate? However, to prepare for the debate please research any proof you can find that we can make money producing abiotic oil. Find me a single oil company claiming to be producing it.

      • I already have a website (blogger) that is recommended for study by Martin Hovland MSc PhD FGS.
        He “worked for the Norwegian energy company Statoil ASA from 1976 to 2012 as senior engineer and marine geology specialist,” and is currently head of the geosciences department at Bergen University.
        Here’s the direct link to my site:
        http://living-petrol.blogspot.com/
        You site is called “21st century social critic.” That’s odd for someone who spends a lot of time claiming to be a petroleum expert. A cursory search suggests that you spend a lot of time doing peak oil activism online. 🙂

  25. From Moonbeam:
    “We don’t even know how far we’ve gone, or if we’ve gone over the edge,” Brown said. “There are tipping points, feedback loops. This is not some linear set of problems that we can predict. We have to take measures against an uncertain future which may well be something no one ever wants. We are talking about extinction. We are talking about climate regimes that have not been seen for tens of millions of years. We’re not there yet, but we’re on our way.”
    Nick,
    This is the latest BS spouted from Moonbeam using exaggerated IPCC predictions. As I said before you don’t need to tell this blog that the worst case scenario is very unlikely, we know that.
    We need you to correct the exaggerations from Moonbeam and others that are beyond the pale, if you are to have any credibility.
    Notice that all the “useful” socialist US mayors and Governors applauding the gross exaggeration at the meeting with the Pope while their cities crumble under their policies with crime and bankruptcy.
    While I normally respect the Catholic Church, I suspect the Pope has bought in only because the Paris objective is to redistribute income and he sees the climate change issue as an instrument to accomplish the socialism objective oblivious to the science and facts.
    More from Moonbeam:
    “Many Republicans have said the effects of climate change are overstated. As he has several times, Brown called them “troglodytes,” to applause. But the Democratic governor went beyond partisan rabble-rousing, quoting balefully from St. Paul’s biblical message to the Galatians.”
    The Pope is dancing with the Devil, think any of that crowd respect his religion?
    Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article27998554.html#storylink=cpy

  26. When I meet the true green believers, I post my most hated ideas for saving the planet noone dares mention…..
    The only rational solution that’s fair to all is RATIONING…
    1) OK, let’s take the first step and forbid all aircraft from taking off, saving 18 BILLION BARRELS PER DAY of half burned kerosene spewing into the air. NO airplanes are necessary as most are just junkets for the rich. Let business use the internet video to sell its crap, let the rich stay home for vacation as we can’t afford this any more. We’ve pretty much eliminated mail service. Shipping anything in an airplane is incredibly polluting. Want to go to Hawaii on vacation? Sail or hitch a ride as a passenger on a freighter or container ship. The trip will be free IF you donate a certain number of gallons of your gas rationing card, in lieu of cash. The more passengers they carry, the more fuel they can get on THEIR ration allotment, the more trips/money they make. You’ll be VERY welcome aboard when they’re staring at running out of fuel, having used all their allotment for this month.
    AIRCRAFT SAVINGS – 18 BILLION BARRELS PER DAY PLUS ALL UNNECESSARY MILITARY FLIGHTS.
    2) Shut down all unnecessary vessels….cruise ships burning 100 tons per day, yachts burning 50 gallons an hour to cruise the rich a couple of miles, all power boats over 10HP. If you want to go fishing, use a jonboat with a 9.9HP outboard. No party boats. No offshore fishing monsters. Let the fisheries recover is a secondary good idea. Sailboats get huge tax credits. No sailboat is allowed over a 10HP engine, of course. Of course, you must use your gas/diesel ration card to fuel any boat, lawn mower, tractor, etc., anything using fuel. Your electric meter will ration your electrically-charged tools, tractors, cars, trucks, etc., for you. It doesn’t care what you do with your electric ration. You get to decide between car, dryer or electric/gas hot water.
    3) Ration gasoline per driver. The pumps are already setup with card readers. 100 gallons per month to waste any way you like in your big ass SUV or 500HP pickup truck should be enough. We’ll simply read/write your monthly ration to the magnetic strip on your driver’s license, no exceptions. Some may have to trade for a more efficient vehicle or stop driving 150 miles to work just to live in the boondocks. Your card will also be used to gas up your lawn monsters, the 9.9HP outboard motor (see above) and any other fuel oil powered vehicle. Oil heated homes will get a special card with a fair ration that works in oil delivery trucks. 20,000 sq ft mansions may need to block off most useless rooms or risk running out of oil.
    4)Your new digital electric meter is already setup to ration electric power, automatically, to say 1000 KwH per month, no exceptions. At 1,000 KwH from the first day at midnight, the meter simply shuts down your power until next month. The global warming alarmists and greenies wanting to shut down power plants will get their wish as the unlimited load on the current all-you-can-afford grid, drops like a stone off a cliff. Many plants will simply shut down entirely or go into standby the last half of every month until the public gets the message rationing is serious to “save the planet”, whatever that means. It may be hard to unload huge real estate holdings, but tiny houses that stay warm/cool all month will make up the market. Trailer sales will be impressive.
    5) All unnecessary events that use any form of power are forbidden. No fairs, home shows, sporting events that waste power, airshows, boat shows, car/truck shows at all. Concerts and any other mass programs that cannot be done in daylight off a single electric meter are prohibited. The electric meter, of course, will be rationed to 1000 KwH per month like everyone else.
    It’s a start. Rationing will be expanded to include all transportation and businesses as necessary to reduce our “carbon footprint” back to the stone age. As more and more “believers” and “alarmists” are murdered, these measures can be eliminated and we can recover without all this constant BS pouring over our heads by the TALKERS using it to sell crap.
    As you can see, I’m not very popular on green or alarmist websites full of rich greenies flying around from conference to conference….(c;]

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