David Attenborough's Renewable "Apollo Project"

Photograph of David Attenborough, author Wildscreen https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:David_Attenborough_(cropped).jpg

Photograph of David Attenborough, author Wildscreen

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

David Attenborough and a group of other prominent people, have called for a publicly funded $15 billion / year research programme over 10 years, an international “Apollo” project, to make renewables economically viable.

The letter;

We, the undersigned, believe that global warming can be addressed without adding significant economic costs or burdening taxpayers with more debt. A sensible approach to tackling climate change will not only pay for itself but provide economic benefits to the nations of the world.

The aspiration of the Global Apollo Programme is to make renewable energy cheaper than coal within 10 years. We urge the leading nations of the world to commit to this positive, practical initiative by the Paris climate conference in December.

The plan requires leading governments to invest a total of $15bn a year in research, development and demonstration of clean energy. That compares to the $100bn currently invested in defence research and development globally each year.

Public investment now will save governments huge sums in the future. What is more, a coordinated R&D plan can help bring energy bills down for billions of consumers. Renewable energy gets less than 2% of publicly funded R&D. The private sector spends relatively small sums on clean energy research and development.

Just as with the Apollo space missions of the 1960s, great scientific minds must now be assembled to find a solution to one of the biggest challenges we face.

Please support the Global Apollo Programme – the world’s 10-year plan for cheaper, cleaner energy.

David Attenborough

Professor Brian Cox

Paul Polman CEO, Unilever

Arunabha Ghosh CEO, Council on Energy Environment and Water

Ed Davey Former UK energy secretary

Nicholas Stern IG Patel professor of economics and government, LSE

Bill Hare Founder and CEO, Climate Analytics

Nilesh Y Jadhav Programme director, Energy Research Institute @NTU, Singapore

Niall Dunne Chief sustainability officer, BT

Carlo Carraro Director, International Centre for Climate Governance

Professor Brian Hoskins Chair, Grantham Institute

Mark Kenber CEO, The Climate Group

Ben Goldsmith Founder, Menhaden Capital

Sabina Ratti Executive director, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM)

John Browne Chairman, L1 Energy

Zac Goldsmith MP

Professor Martin Siegert Co-director, Grantham Institute

Professor Joanna Haigh Co-director, Grantham Institute, and vice-president of Royal Meteorological Society

Peter Bakker President, World Business Council for Sustainable Development

Dr Fatima Denton African Climate Policy Centre

Denys Shortt CEO, DCS Group

Adair Turner Former chairman, Financial Services Authority

Gus O’Donnell Former cabinet secretary

Richard Layard London School of Economics

Professor John Shepherd

Martin Rees Astronomer royal

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/sep/15/help-the-global-apollo-programme-make-clean-energy-cheaper-than-coal

I wish someone had thought of making renewables viable, before the world’s politicians wasted countless billions of public money, building renewable systems which are not fit for purpose.

Having said that, $150 billion seems an awfully high price to pay for speculative research, given there are already other options.

If CO2 is an urgent issue, we should be building nuclear reactors, not delaying action by 10 years in the slim hope of a major breakthrough in renewables technology. A few years ago, former NASA GISS Director James Hansen published an open letter demanding that greens embrace nuclear power.

If nuclear fission is unacceptable for whatever reason, what about nuclear fusion? The ITER project is a serious international effort to explore the viability of nuclear fusion. $150 billion would dramatically accelerate the pace of Nuclear Fusion research. If the ITER project succeeds, it could open the way to limitless non-polluting energy. Unlike Attenborough’s renewables dream, hopes for an ITER breakthrough are based on known physics. Fusion plasmas are not self sustaining because they lose heat too quickly. The rationale behind the ITER project is based on simple geometry. The hope that by building a really big plasma, they can take advantage of the improved volume to surface area ratio, to slow heat loss enough that the fusion reaction becomes self sustaining.

And of course, we would have to think about what opportunities we would miss, personal and public, by spending so much tax money on energy research. For example, a mere fraction of $150 billion could buy an awful lot of clean water and medical care for the world’s poor people – but somehow poor people always seem to end up down the bottom of the list of priorities.


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chris moffatt

If this is such a sure bet within ten years these people should be investing their own money in it and seeking to exclude governments. You know – like “big oil” is doing!!


chris moffatt,
Some of those signatories have investments in renewable energy companies and paid jobs on boards. They stand to make millions, if not billions, via activism capitalism.
I see Lord Nicholas Stern on the list. See his renewable investments / renumerated boards HERE. Then click on ‘Register of Interests’.
I see many from the Grantham Institute. Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Co. LLC has investments in oil, coal, and natural gas exploration and distribution companies. It was set up by the environmentalist and hedge funder Jeremy Grantham. The recipients of funding from the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment (founded by Jeremy Grantham) includes the London School of Economics: Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
I don’t have the time to look into all the names but the mere mention of:
• Bill Hare Founder and CEO, Climate Analytics.
• Nilesh Y Jadhav Programme director,
Energy Research Institute
• Carlo Carraro Director, International Centre for Climate Governance
• John Browne Chairman, L1 Energy
etc. makes me wonder about their real aims. Is it to save the planet or make as much money as they can? For some just power is the big turn on. A list of jokers and climate clowns.


Among the signatories I see

….Ben Goldsmith Founder, Menhaden Capital….

Ben is the brother of another of the signatories Zac Goldsmith. Both are the sons of the now deceased billionaire Sir James Goldsmith. In July the Guardian said:

Ben Goldsmith launches Menhaden green investment trust
Son of financier Sir James says it’s possible to make good investment returns from backing green business
….Likely business areas include power generation, energy efficiency and storage, and industrial processes, and waste and water management…..
Ben Goldsmith is the founder of WHEB, an investment firm focused on energy efficiency, clean technology and sustainable development . …..

You sign a letter indicating ‘concern’ over ‘global warming’, urge 15billion a year to be invested, then stand to gain from that money. How concerned are you really???

Exactly, these birdbrains seem to think that no one is out there trying to construct a better solar panel or a better battery. Anyone who could come up with a superior battery concept would make a Midas fortune in short order.

george e. smith

So $15 B with a B per year is not a significant economic cost ??
Well right on, Davie Boy, ante up from your vast reserves.


Split among what, the top 15 or 20 economies in the world? It’s a big number, but not compared to the sum of those economies.


Which should not necessarily be interpreted as an endorsement of the plan. As others have pointed out, renewables have many issues beyond simple economics.

I don’t see many power engineers in that list. Most are the usual troughers from the Greenblob. They haven’t a clue about energy production, otherwise they would realise that low energy density, intermittent and uncontrollable fuels are a non-starter for viability.

And anything with Ed Davey’s name attached to it has got to be the complete opposite of what you should be doing. What a disaster he was, hence currently there are massive concerns in the UK for the lights going out in the near future.


Ed Davey – Liberal Democrat (until recently, coalition partners with the Conservatives).
Zac Goldsmith – Conservative.
In the UK, Green is not a Left / Right Issue.
And they ought to include nuclear in their programme


In the UK, Green is not a Left / Right Issue.
Many places, we are seeing what seems to be a politicians vs. the voters issue.

Stephen Richards

September 17, 2015 at 8:48 am
Right or left is of course irrelevent now. It’s capitalist and progressive with communist further left. Cameron et al are progressives by his own admission but they are capitalist progressives. A quick buck here and there helps to keep the bailiffs at bay.


“In the UK, Green is not a Left / Right Issue.”
The UK Green Party is very much left wing, and UKIP on the right is the closest thing we have to a “climate realist” party – so actually Green *IS* a Left/Right Issue.
You may be confusing being Green with old-style environmentalism, which has strong supporters all across the spectrum.

Also, folks don’t seem to realize that wind and solar are already mature technologies. People have been using them for thousands of years already. All we are working on now is tweaking the efficiency a bit. The reason we switched to coal, oil, and gas is because we knew the limitations of wind and solar long ago.

Leonard Lane

Great point. Fossil fuels were a mighty successful advance and returning to mature and well understood inferior approaches can only be justified in the minds of those who want world governance and those who look to reap huge monetary gains from the taxpayers.


I agree. Biofuels from algae is the only new thing I can think of. It might be reasonable to do some research on that. I don’t have the knowledge to judge its potential.
Hydroelectric is a renewable that works. It is also a mature technology.

Robert Thomson

An avalanche of hypocrisy from one of the signatories (with a degree in physics and some engineering).
“Lord Browne, the former BP chief executive, plans to exploit the collapse in oil prices to build a major new company using $10bn of Russian cash. John Browne, who was appointed executive chairman of the oligarch-backed L1 Energy group last week, is scouring the industry to snap up assets at knock-down prices, said friends, who added that few outside observers have realised the huge ambitions Browne has to create a major global force in energy. The man once dubbed the Sun King for his pre-eminence in the oil sector and who celebrated his 67th birthday last month, is said to be “enormously excited” about building a fossil-fuel business from almost scratch.”
What’s not to like – a heady mixture of Oligarch’s and fossil fuels – money to be made!
Source – http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/mar/08/ex-bp-boss-aims-to-build-major-energy-industry-player-from-scratch


I humbly propose we spend the next 10 years revising the laws of physics. Make them more renewable friendly. Increase energy density. That will solve the problem. Who is ready to get started? Be sure to bring your checkbook.


Professor Brian Hoskins Chair, Grantham Institute?
The Grantham Institute was established in 2008 by Jeremy and Hannelore Grantham, through their “Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment” and with Judith Rees and Nicholas Stern of the Grantham Research Institute behind them. Lord Stern is now chairman of the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics.
The Grantham Istitute was set up by Grantham to promote ideas that will make him vastly richer than he already is. It is not part of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE); it’s actually a separate legal entity which does no research and no education of its own . Its “task” is to promote the view point of the person paying its bills, in other words it is a marketing company and it is being paid to sell the public on so-called “man-made global warming.”
The LSE took the money and turned a blind eye , while allowing an “iffy marketing” operation to ride on the back of its name, and not for the first time. One day the media may start to call it a marketing company, which is what it actually is, rather than give it the undeserved scientific credit it purports to have.
The Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment
London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
Houghton Street
Official Address:
Tower 3
Clements Inn Passage
Ginny Pavey, Institute Manager
Tel: 020 7107 5433
Media enquiries:
Bob Ward, Policy & Communications Director
Tel: 020 7107 5413
Governance, Legal and Planning Division
Room TW1 6.01
London School of Economics
Houghton Street
Tel: +44 (020) 7955 6866
Fax: +44 (020) 7404 3878
Contact: Jayne Rose
DIRECTOR OF THE LSE (Who should be ashamed of himself.)
Professor Craig Calhoun
Director of LSE
1st floor, Columbia House
Houghton Street
Contact: Hugh Martin
Chief of Staff to Director and President
Tel: +44 (0)20 7852 3601
Bob Ward
Policy and Communications Director (“Liar-in-Chief”)
Bob joined the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment in November 2008, shortly after its launch. He also holds the following positions:
Policy and Communications Director for the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy;
Member of the executive committee of the Association of British Science Writers;
Member of the executive committee of the World Conference of Science Journalists 2009;
Member of the board of the UK’s Science Media Centre.
Mainly a eunuch in the whore house: mixing with real scientists and writing about them but completely impotent when called upon to perform any hard science himself.
Ward joined the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) from Risk Management Solutions, where he was Director of Public Policy. He also worked at the Royal Society, the UK national academy of science, for eight years, until October 2006. His responsibilities there included leading the media relations team. He has also worked as a freelance science writer and journalist. Ward has a first degree in geology and an unfinished PhD thesis on palaeopiezometry.
He is a Fellow of the Geological Society.
Tel: +44 (0)20 7107 5413
Tel: +44 (0)7811 320346
Fax: +44 (0)20 7106 1241
Here’s a sample of Ward’s work:
September 2013:
Another assault was mounted by Bob Ward, spokesman for the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at the London School of Economics. Mr Ward tweeted that the article was “error-strewn.”
The eminent US expert Professor Judith Curry, who unlike Mr Ward is a climate scientist with a long list of peer-reviewed publications to her name, disagreed. On her blog Climate Etc. she defended The Mail on Sunday, saying the article contained “good material,” and issued a tweet which challenged Mr Ward to say what these errors were.
He has yet to reply.
I love the Bob Ward waffle, and his superb ability to hide reality. For instance, his comment that temperature is still rising “albeit at a slower rate of increase than previously” actually translates into between 0.1 and 0.2ºC per century.
Most amazingly, Bob links to the IPCC SREX report claiming that it “found an abundance of scientific evidence for increases in heat waves, droughts and heavy rainfall.” In fact, as anyone can check by reading the report, it says no such thing.
You do not need a “paper” to show nearly 20 years of no global warming, just look at the data sets directly. The following tables show the number of years to present when slope is flat or slightly negative and also for when there is no significant warming:
GISS 12, 17
Hadcrut3 16, 19
Hadcrut4 12, 18
But never mind Ward; one might expect a scientist like Chris Rapley to ask himself whether, if something can’t be found, it might be because it’s not there.
Rapley is into climate and the unconscious. he recently wrote the introduction (and the Amazon review) for a book on psychoanalysis and climate scepticism.
See http://geoffchambers.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/psychoanalysis-and-climate-change-the-doctors-take-over-the-asylum/
Heat which has gone “missing” cannot cause floods plagues and hurricanes, and without floods plagues and hurricanes Bob Ward is out of a job and the rest of us can get on with our lives without being bothered with politicians blathering about “sustainability” and putting our energy prices up. That’s the discussion which Bob Ward (and apparently all the editors sympathetic to the climate hysterics) want to suppress.
Bob Ward declares that there are parts of the media that misrepresent the science. That is certainly what he is trying to say, but he fails lamentably to make his case. There are easily attestable facts about the climate and any reader is free to draw their own conclusions. Ward and others are demanding Parliament intervene and legislate in order to discourage “deniers” from expressing themselves.
By failing to defend his position, Ward demonstrates the weakness of his case. By giving space to Ward to expound his weak and undefended arguments, the broadcasters and publishers demonstrate a contempt for free speech and rational discussion.

Brian Cox has been given several editorials, and a talk at the Television Society in 2012, both of which were largely given over to attacking climate sceptics. Sir Paul Nurse had a whole BBC Horizon programme to himself, largely given over to attacking climate sceptics. If there was a case to be made for dangerous man-made global warming, they could have made it. But they didn’t , because there isn’t. All they’ve got is Bob, the failed palaeopiezometrist, and his call for press censorship.
It is a free country and people are entitled to their opinions. That, however, doesn’t mean that all opinions have the same weight.
Here’s my issue with Ward’s view of how things should work: Scientific papers tend (as one might imagine) to be quite rigorous. This means that it is unlikely that you will find scientific papers with strong, absolute statements about catastrophic global warming. They will tend to be descriptions of models with uncertainties or some analysis of data (again with uncertainties). One can, however, interpret what the evidence is suggesting.
Even if you are not interested in climate science, everyone should be interested in the attempt to close down debate proposed by Bob Ward, the PR man for the Grantham Institute and its hedge fund millionaire backer Jeremy Grantham, and which seems to be supported by the New Statesman, the BBC, the Royal Society, The Independent, all six British parliamentary parties, the Socialist Worker, and just about everyone else on the Left.
Is it the job of the government to pass laws to dissuade “deniers” and the skeptics from writing what they like? This seems to be the opinion on the Left these days. This is not a debate about science, and that’s the point. There are many who claim to want to debate this, but are actually not willing to debate the science. They make claims that do not stand up to scrutiny, and it’s being carried out in a manner that isn’t consistent with good scientific practice.
History will note that not one single IPCC warning has ever said what will happen, only what might happen. They agree that “climate change” is real but have never agreed that it is a real crisis. Look it up yourself.
Bob Ward’s livelihood is dependent on keeping the public fooled and poor. He spends most of his time these days conducting ad hominem campaigns against those who, heaven forbid, question the science and the myth that it is settled or that there is “consensus.” He is paid a great deal at the Grantham Research Institute. He doesn’t feel the slightest bit guilty that his lot are causing so much misery for those who now find it impossible to heat their homes or run their car. Not only is he and his ilk responsible for fuel poverty but he is wrecking our manufacturing industries too. One day, they’ll be no more money and he’ll just have to go and find a real job, that’s if he’s actually capable of doing something honest.
Get lost, Ward. we’ve had enough of your lies and your preaching. Your data is either flawed or totally fake, and you know it.
And by the way, there is no “current warming trend,” and nobody believes anything the IPCC or the Grantham Institute say.


+ Many Sasha, thanks, it is corruption at it’s finest.

Great post, Sasha.

Warren Latham

Thank you Sasha. Excellent stuff indeed.
I just hope “someone” is keeping tabs on the other twenty-five (25) snouts in the trough.
Many thanks.

Crispin in Waterloo

Sasha, very good post – comprehensive.
Readers lay like to see what the Lancet says here
about the possibility of a public scare (alarmism) reacting epidemic proportions with the publication of a new paper by John Collinge and Sebastian Brandner suggesting at least the possibility that Alzheimer’s Disease was contagious, and what the transmission mechanism could be.
Some UK newspapers went to town – full alarmism mode – while overseas paper were more circumspect. The journal paper itself is quite restrained.
The interesting part is how the Lancet, which we take to be a responsible journal, bent over backwards to try to prevent something being mis-reported and thereby generate public alarm. How different this is from the climate industrial complex where there are literally no bounds on the stupidity marketed as truth in the most alarming terms possible. For example, storms are routinely blamed specifically on the AG portion of ‘global warming’ during a lengthy time period where there simply hasn’t been any.
How different is the Lancet when it concerns public alarm over something that is actually deadly, compared with something this makes a vague promise to locate fantastical ‘tipping points’ in a strongly self-governing global temperature regulating system.
In the UK not all is lost, yet, it may just seem that way. Stiff upper lip, the jerry-built arguments of Cli-Sci will fade with the harvest moon.

When The E-cat is on sale next year and did not cost $150 billion
All this panic about Co2 will seem just so much hot air.

Billy Liar

It’s always next year, isn’t it?


The E-cat got a US patent three weeks ago. Things seem to be happening, from reading http://www.ecatnews.net/
But, as you say, it’s still in “next year” mode. (Hopefully early in 2016.)

Rainer Bensch

Yes, and LENR is dead. Rossi patented just a hydrogen generator.

I see it is still Global Warming in La La land. And there can clearly be no other reason for the climate changing than CO2 from human activity. The stupid, it burns, I mean really really burns.

No need for a lefty media-academic mega-bucks-for-those-we-approve-of research project, those good old boys in the oil/gas/coal industry have already solved the energy “crisis” for several hundred years using innovative drilling technology, in particular for shale gas and oil. Even Obama is in on it, approving exploration in Alaska.
This green protection racket needs to faced down and destroyed, its a matter of life and death for many.

Leonard Lane

Great, thanks.


The reason this kind of an approach has never taken root is because it might actually solve the problem. ‘Solving the problem’ would have a negative political effect for the left for two reasons. First, politicians on the left use climate change as a tool for rallying the base. If the problem diminishes then they can’t get low information voters to the polls. Second, among the intellectual left, the problem has, and always will be, Malthusian dementia. They truly believe that clean, abundant, inexpensive energy is bad because it promotes population growth. And they don’t want that.
As for me, sign me up. I think its a great idea.


Nothing is renewable.


I don’t know, that guy who keeps posting about not worrying about climate change until the climate stops changing is getting pretty close.

Sun Spot

or the guy who keeps crying wolf about run away/accelerating man made climate change that’s not happening is even closer.

Warren Latham

Dear urederra,

John in Oz

Just what I was thinking.
How does a solar panel or wind generator renew itself? There is no spare capacity being stored to enable the building of a replacement and they do not generate sunshine nor wind to use for future generation.
We should be demanding a definition.


David Attenborough is someone who is prepared to spend vast amounts of our money whilst wishing we would all become extinct.

Stephen Richards

Spot on. The whole list is a set of names that spend the hours thinking of ways to be important and burn taxpayers money. They all want to be rock stars.


Tim Groves
If you are not able to see what this man has done for science then my few words here will not help you. What I will say though is one of the major problems with this whole CC debate is the inability of scientists to communicate effectively with the public. It’s why the likes of Monckton, with his thin veneer of facts is able to (in the eyes of the public) foot it with those who study this stuff for a living. In short, he is an orator, they are not. But Attenborough crosses that divide. He gets the science and he connects with the pubic. A rare combination. And so science is well served having a man who is able to inform the public so well. And an informed public is able to see through some of the nonsense spouted by both sides of this issue. In my book, he is a man worthy of respect, not the childish bullying displayed here by some.


Before you spout your disrespectful nonsense, how about a quote from him that gives any honesty to your insulting comment. Attenborough is a man who has contributed enormously to science. You do yourself no favours (except to the mindless sheep here) by blanket idiot statements like this.


No HE hasn’t, he is just a very good presenter of other peoples work.

Warren Latham

You have just painted yourself into a corner.
There is no escape here: you will be observed. Do please have some courtesy.
I suggest that you ask Mr. Attenborough for his definition of carbonated oxygen (carbon dioxide) and its’ effect upon this earth: then ask him if he has received monies from the BBC (which is funded by the British tax-payers) in respect of his “carbon-dioxide” programme(s).
Please do your research properly before you answer.


Warren Latham
Are you serious?


Still waiting for your quote re David Attenborough wishing we all would become extinct? If it doesn’t exist then admit it, if it does then offer it and I will apologise. Till then your comment is nothing more than offensive fluff.

John in Oz

Try http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/earthnews/9815862/Humans-are-plague-on-Earth-Attenborough.html.

We are a plague on the Earth. It’s coming home to roost over the next 50 years or so. It’s not just climate change; it’s sheer space, places to grow food for this enormous horde. Either we limit our population growth or the natural world will do it for us, and the natural world is doing it for us right now,” he told the Radio Times.

Stephen Richards

No he hasn’t. He has spent years travelling the world with a massive crew of technicians and producers spending taxpayers hard earned money in an attempt to make himself more important. You got the wrong man.
He was also the man who dumped Bellamy when Bellamy showed that AGW was not going to be a significant problem.
I’m afraid you have fallen for the presenter and not the scientist.


Stephen Richards
If I have fallen for the “presenter not the scientist” I am not the only one. DA is without peer as a scientist and communicator. By January 2013 Attenborough had collected 31 honorary degrees from British universities, more than any other person on the planet. Hardly a man to be dismissed as Sacha and others have done.

Tim Groves

You stated:
Attenborough is a man who has contributed enormously to science.
I’m aware of his stature and his achievements as a broadcaster and a writer in bringing knowledge of the natural world to the general public, and also of his work in advocacy. But I had not heard that he was a working scientist. Has he done lots of useful scientific research? Has he published extensively in peer-reviewed journals? Is he credited with any major scientific breakthroughs? In short, can you tell us what is the extent of his scientific achievements? What is the basis for your claim that has he “is a man who has contributed enormously to science”?
You also stated:
By January 2013 Attenborough had collected 31 honorary degrees from British universities, more than any other person on the planet.
Please explain how collecting honorary degrees contributes to science?


John in Oz
Please tell me how any of your quote of DA is wishing we are extinct? He is clearly saying be careful or we are in trouble. They are completely different things and only a fool (or someone trying to mislead) could not tell the difference.


“If you are not able to see what this man has done for science then my few words here will not help you.”
That’s the problem you face, as I see the matter, sir. If he had contributed significantly to science why wouldn’t you have at least a few “helpful” words to offer here. He’s an entertainer, and I’ll grant he’s contributed much to entertainment, my own included. To say he contributed much to science is to me like saying Leonard Nemoy contributed much to science, it’s nonsensical.

Albert Paquette

Apart from nuclear and fossil fuels, any “renewable” source of energy has a density that is far too low to be practical (wind, solar etc.). Thermodynamics 101.
Also, only about 70% of fossil fuels go to the production of energy for transportation. The other 30% goes to the production of petrochemical feedstocks that are the intermediates for the production of thousands of products, from medicines to plastics. Millions of miles of roads are paved with asphalt, another petroleum byproduct. The list goes on, from the shingles on your roof to the synthetc rubber in your tires.
Are these people aware of these facts?
If we stop extracting crude oil from the ground, where will these products come from?

john cook

from renewable sources

john cook

and give me 15 billions dollars ..then i will tell you more precisely

David Wells

Oil is about 95% of our existence right now with 6,000 separate products. The 2040 target for energy consumption is 820 quadrillion btu’s of which 80% has to come from coal because there is no other option.

Retired Kit P

“Thermodynamics 101.”
Really! You took that class? BS! I am a mechanical from Purdue and worked 40 years in the power industry. Energy density was not a concept discussed in thermodynamics. Furthermore, wind is practical in the PNW and solar in the southwest US for part of the energy mix.
Energy density is an important debating tool between idiots.

Stephen Richards

How the hell did an engineer come to those conclusions. Neither wind nor photovoltaïque can ever replace base load. They cannot be part of any sensible power implementation unless you have an infinite amount of money to waste on subsidising either the producer or the end user.
Both significant destabilise the grid above a very limited output. Neither is any use whatsoever without some form of storage and that appears a very long way off and ENERGY DENSITY will then be very important.

Crispin in Waterloo

Energy density is frequently used to describe the storage capacity of a battery per kg or per cubic centimeter.

More properly, the term is stated Energy Flux Density (not energy density.) And this would not be discussed in a thermodynamics class in engineering college as it is not part of thermodynamics per se. Energy flux density is the amount of energy that can be derived per unit volume of a specific energy source. See my on-line article titled “Energy Basics.” Scroll down to the section on the Conservation of Mass and Energy Law and then scroll further to the “Comparison of Conventional Fuel Energy Density,” “Comparison of Fusion Power Density,” and “Comparison of Renewable Energy Density” tables. The published article is at: http://fuelrfuture.com/energy-basics/ . Regards, T. D. Tamarkin, Carmichael, California, USA, +1-916-482-2020. tom@fuelrfuture.com


The first sentence of the letter say’s it all. “We, the undersigned, believe……..”
Its a faith, a religion. They first believe in the devil (Climate Change, Warming, whatever) and second they believe they have the way to salvation ( Renewables, Tax and Trade, etc.). As they pass the offering plate around the world.

They don’t believe in ANY of that crap.
They only believe in the “pass the offering plate”

Sun Spot

Not exactly, more like CO2 indulgence’s for our carbon sins.

David Wells

Right 5500 UK wind turbines are managing to generate just 3.77% of our electricity demand. According to Paul Burke – full time environmentalist – we don’t need nuclear because wind could generate upto 45/50% of our electricity demand. Today therefore we would need 72.930 turbines covering 794937 squares miles or all of the accessible land mass of the UK. Prof Brian Cox can sound extremely intelligent and knowledgeable like Prof Steve Jones when they stay firmly within their own discipline like genetics but immediately they stray from their well define discipline they become the most egregious knuckleheads imaginable.
You would imagine that those who signed up to this nonsense might at least take a little time to do some research to identify whether or not their is just cause, you would imagine that this behaviour for a “scientist” would be second nature apparently not.


Personally, I have yet to hear Prof Brian Cox sounding extremely intelligent and knowledgeable, even on his supposed speciality subject. He seems to think he has to be permanently in awe of everything he shows us in order to keep our attention; like children’s TV. I have tried, but have yet to learn anything from him; he bores me stupid. The BBC love him because he’s young(ish), photogenic and used to be a pop star, so must attract the yoof audience which is all that seems to matter to them these days.

Warren Latham

Dear David,
I must say, I agree entirely and thank you.
I was in Llandudno, north Wales coast, on Tuesday and saw very many (probably a hundred or so) white wind turbines about two miles out at sea. There was a calm, steady breeze onshore; enough to keep ALL the land-based flags straight out constantly all day.
The wind-turbines on that day were NOT moving at all: ALL of them were NOT moving.
The next morning was much, much calmer, very calm, with hardly any onshore breeze at all, yet ALL of the wind-turbines were moving. (Very peculiar).
It just seemed as though someone had thrown a switch and given them a bolt of electricity to “get them going” !

Retired Kit P

How many technicians does it take to keep 72.930 turbines running?

Stephen Richards

In fairness to wind and solar in europe I have noted %tage amounts higher than 13% but that’s not the crucial figure it’s their generation delivery that counts and that never get better than 5Gw. It has been higher in germany but the grid has then become very difficult to manage.


The billions spent already, have had no affect, but another $15billion a year will be just the ticket.


“The aspiration of the Global Apollo Programme is to make renewable energy cheaper than coal within 10 years.”
Spending $15 billion? year to make an intermittent and unsustainable renewable energy source like wind turbines more efficient is a waste of public money . Wind is 3 time as expensive as coal from existing coal plants and 1.7-2.2 more expensive than energy from new coal plants Stop all the subsidies and use the money for other clean renewable energies like geothermal

DD More

Why is it that Wind and Solar, which have been in use since (per Wiki) Sailboats and sailing ships have been using wind power for at least 5,500 years and architects have used wind-driven natural ventilation in buildings since similarly ancient times. The use of wind to provide mechanical power came somewhat later in antiquity.
The Babylonian emperor Hammurabi planned to use wind power for his ambitious irrigation project in the 17th century BC.
And solar drying of mud/straw brick- The South Asian inhabitants of Mehrgarh constructed, and lived in, mud brick houses between 7000–3300 BCE.
Why have they not perfected use of these technologies yet?

David Wells

Could it be because you cannot?

Eustace Cranch

I get your question but boy, that first sentence doesn’t scan at all.

Why is it that Wind and Solar, which have been in use since (per Wiki) Sailboats and sailing ships have been using wind power for at least 5,500 years and architects have used wind-driven natural ventilation in buildings since similarly ancient times.

Because as soon as reliable, controllable fossil fuel power became available, EVERY previous application for wind energy became obsolete for commercial purposes. propelling ships, pumping water, milling grain, cutting wood, grinding steel, making household power, powering lights, or flying kites. 8<) No one, anywhere, wanted wind – but, in a few places, wind had to be tolerated by our more reasoned fathers and grandfathers because – in certain places – the expense of providing connections and towers to a reliable fossil/nuclear electric system was too great.

Agreed! $150 billion can built 60 GW worth of geothermal plants, or the equivalent of 120 coal power plants… that might be a good place to start, considering that once built, goethermal power plants have a long life and low running costs, don’t need to store energy and run in any weather or season, day and night…

Retired Kit P

Very few places have good enough geothermal resources to run a power plant. What would make you think water from the earth would be cleaner than burning coal dug out of the earth?
I think geothermal is great but it a small source for a reason.

Retired Kit P

Very few places have good enough geothermal resources to run a power plant. What would make you think water from the earth would be cleaner than burning coal dug out of the earth?
I think geothermal is great but it a small source for a reason.

The “typical” water from goethermal rocks is laden with sulfurous gasses and dissolved solids, has extreme mineral concentrations that are extremely difficult (expensive!!!) to clean and treat, and which make the heat exchangers and ALL plant piping even more expensive (high chrome stainless and high-nickel steels are mandatory nearly everywhere to prevent corrosion!) and these parts that do not erode or corrode away are impossible to keep clean without near-continuous external pure water flushes and cleaning. The air around a geothermal plant is noxious and cannot meet air quality standards because of the continuously venting gasses.
Build a plant with separate heat processors (and them pump all of the venting geothermal (polluted) hot water back underground and you need high-power pumps and waste energy pumping the water back down against ground pressure into the soil and rock strata. Thermal efficiency goes way down as well, so you end up generating enough power to pump the water back underground …. but very little to sell. Then you have to shutdown for more maintenance to clean the pumps and heat exchangers again.

Ian Macdonald

Geothermal has almost identical environmental issues to shale gas. It uses directional drilling and fracking, can bring radioactive materials up, and may pollute groundwater. Therefore it makes no sense to promote one and attempt to ban the other. Both can be used safely with proper controls, but that is beside the point.

Leonard Lane

Why are you so mean to the parasites who only want to live off your work? If you work harder and pay more taxes these people will be happy. Don’t you want them to be happy and rich without working?


The fact that I heard nothing about this in the UK – I think I did hear David Attenborough had a meeting with Buzz Aldrin which might be related given the name of the project – suggests that no one gives a monkeys anymore. There is a humanitarian disaster on Europe’s shores, so loony endeavours such as these are rightfully getting very little attention.

Stephen Richards

Aldrin is anti AGW, isn’t he?

Power is civilization itself. Just how civilized were we before we gained control of fire? The Apollo project was clearly feasible, as was the Manhattan project before it. More than 15 billion US has already been spent on fusion, on thermal solar, on photovoltaics, on hideous wind devices on-shore and off-shore, tidal power, geothermal power, etc.. ad nauseam.
If there were a feasible new sustainable power source much more than 15 billion US would already be available for research. The only one getting close is photovoltaics, but only for certain low-volume applications. We will never choose poverty no matter how many Watermelons attempt to get control of civilization.

Keith Willshaw

The problem with photovoltaics is the sun does not shine at night and even in daylight output is minimal in winter. This is something of a problem in this country. The reality is that any alternative to fossil fuels has to be dispatchable, that is be available on demand. Only nuclear is currently capable of meeting this test.

Shawn from High River

So 150 BILLION to (maybe) make wind power cheaper….?? Ha ha

Retired Engineer Jim

Could just make coal more expensive?


Already in progress in the US.


Obviously, he is grossly out of touch with the solar PV cost leaders and has not bothered to look at the winning bids in competitive, utility scale projects. He must be stuck mentally on rooftop solar for the rich and other forms of renewables that are overdue for a shakeout instead of another taxpayer crutch.

David L. Hagen

Sustainable fuel and transport
Bjorn Lomborg and the Copenhagen Consensus similarly call for major systematic investment in sustainable fuel and energy systems as one of the most cost effective strategic initiatives. (Recent subsidies into photovoltaics and wind in Germany etc. are very foolish and inefficient.) Fossil fuels have been great “training wheels” enabling our Western Judeo-Christian civilization to develop from agrarian through the industrial revolution, then the oil fed twentieth century to todays high technology. However they are finite and the growth rate of conventional oil production has declined 90% from 7.8%/year in 1965-75 to < 0.4%/year since ~ 2005.
We critically need such strategic research to develop replacement fuels cheaper than oil with systems which are sustainable for 1000 years (disregarding the “climate change” rhetoric).

David Wells

Develop replacement fuels cheaper than oil, at the rate of 95 million barrels each and every day, exactly how, this surely is in the realms of fantasy? Seems like fusion then is a dead duck?

David L. Hagen

David Wells Suggest taking a course in engineering, economics and logic sufficient to examine the foundational issues of Energy Return on Energy Investment, material processing and costing. I speak with a PhD in Mechanical Engineering and 17 us patents issued.

Tom J

I don’t think we’d be doing too well if our predecessors, 1,000 years ago, dictated for us what energy source we should be using in the here and now. Likewise, I think our successors 1,000 years in the future would be equally distressed if we were vain enough to attempt to saddle them with an energy source.

David L. Hagen

Tom J
Leaving our children the economic catastrophe of declining transport fuel without cost effective alternatives would be irresponsible and foolish. Major energy transformations typically take 40 years. We need to develop alternatives now ASAP from whatever energy resources we can make cost effective.


We don’t need to develop any such thing. Fossil fuels are cheaper and more plentiful than ever.

David L. Hagen

Superficial. Dig deeper. The increase in conventional crude oil production has been flat since 2005. A small increase from tight oil will not last long. Why does the EIA project tight oil (fracked shale oil) to peak in the early 2020s?
We have very little time to develop alternatives.
See: EIA’s Crude Production Expectations
EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook.

David L. Hagen

See global crude oil vs US tight oil in: World without US Shale Oil Jan 2001 – Mar 2014

Crispin in Waterloo

David L
You are kind of on the right track, but solar PV is only marginally attractive from an energy investment and return point of view. Wind is hopeless. Too much energy input. It might top up some form of solar/storage system on Pacfic Islands or something.
A lot more oil will be discovered, both conventional and tight. I frankly doubt that figure of <0.4%. The field between Cuba and the Deepwater Horizon hole is conventional. Plus there is still Haiti to uncover.
The big picture has to consider nuclear and there are far more than two options. Fusion doesn't look very good at the moment,. They are still dicking around trying to make it work. They have not even got to the stage of looking at the energy invested in creating a plant and the energy they would get out. If the e-cat actually works there will be a lot of very ticked-off people because there is nothing more offensive than an inexpensive solution to a big problem.


The undersigned are admitting they have not followed the solar PV industry in any competent level of detail and are pathetically out of date, still promoting demonstration projects. They are admitting they know nothing of the wide variance in renewable energy costs and the role of government policy to maintain that immaturity of the industry.

I’m so tired of these asshats pumping the same meme, over and over, and people not being capable of applying a single lick of common sense to anything they claim.
I go through the same conversation with many liberal acquaintances regarding a variety of topics.
Healthcare exchanges failing?…well…it’s really HARD, and it’s NEVER been done before!
Really?…have you purchased anything from Amazon lately?…they seem to run a pretty spiffy and functional web portal. Did anyone consult with them?…No. Of course not.
Stem cell research has been killed because the Republicans won’t fund it.
Really?…Drug companies spend BILLIONS on research. You think the lack of a $10mil grant from the government is going to hold them back?
And now this. We can make it viable without raising taxes, if you just give us $150B and ten years to work on it.
Really?…Amazon and Google, arguable the two brightest tech giants around, walked away from it after studying it for what? 5yrs? Minds like Kurtzwell, etc…can’t make it work, but these guys can? People shouldn’t be that freakin’ dumb.
Really sad.


Amazon has now entered the wind and solar business with two wind projects and one ground mounted solar project.

M Seward

Is he talking about Appollo 1?

Hari Seldon

I think its sad that a man like Attenborough who did so much to educate the public is reduced to prostituting himself in such a way

Stephen Richards



And the only economists (or people who claim to be economists) are Stern and Richard Layard. What a pair quacks; an embarrassment to the profession.
And I am counting zero engineers.
Yet, they have the confidence to state:
“We, the undersigned, believe that global warming can be addressed without adding significant economic costs or burdening taxpayers with more debt.”
Believe away boys and girls. Believe away.

Except we need 150BILLION to appear in order to make it happen.

Leonard Lane

No. We need $150 Billion dollars of YOUR money, you the taxpayers who work and pay taxes.


Saying they they believe that global warming can be addressed without adding significant economic costs or burdening taxpayers with more debt, implies they must know how it can be done – otherwise they could not believe it, or cost it to $15bn or schedule it for 10 years effort. So why not just tell us now what their amazing insights are that this research and development will bring into being; or is this whole thing just another way to keep the scare going and to camouflage yet more green funding?

Rainer Bensch

Global warming can be addressed without adding significant economic costs or burdening taxpayers with more debt.
Just do nothing.
Now give me $150bn for this really brilliant advice.

Crispin in Waterloo

No, we need 150 billion to appear in order to make it appear to happen. When the temperature doesn’t go up, anyone who got funding will be able to say ‘they helped save the world’. Absent the funding, no one will be able to take credit.

Peter Plail

I am not clear; is that a list of beneficiaries?

D.J. Hawkins

On the contrary, you see VERY clearly. The “undersigned” will be at the head of the line when they open the vaults to fund this.


Ed Davey , one of the undersigned, having been kicked out of parliament, is now consultant to lawyers Herbert Smith, connected to the swansea bay lagoon project that he approved as minister (although he claims that he will not be dealing with this project ) and also to Macquarie Bank ,lender to rooftop solar project businesses.
Even the Guardian seems to have some reservations about this , if I am judging the last paragraph of the article correctly:
“Davey says he wants a portfolio approach to his working life currently but has not dismissed the idea that he may eventually return to frontline politics. There has been much criticism in the past about a perceived “revolving door” between lucrative business contracts and former members of parliament.”

Molten salt nuclear reactors are not far off – 10 years perhaps, less if more money and effort expended. They will provide power cheaper than coal and are intrinsically safe. Don’t these jerks pay any attention to power technologies?


There isn’t as much money to be made in any kinds of conventional power plants. Wind and solar projects can be used to create lucrative secondary trading markets such as trading yieldcos.

Retired Kit P

Light water reactors have been around for more than 50 years and have a perfect safety record. No one has been hurt by radiation from a LWR.
There is no problem providing the electric power that society needs other than the one people make up.


Crispin in Waterloo

Retired Kit P
“No one has been hurt by radiation from a LWR”
Begging to differ: no member of the public in the USA has been killed/injured by radiation from a reactor. Lots of people in the nuke management business in the US have been injured, just not the public.
As the the rest of the world lots of people have been directly harmed by pressurised light water reactors. The problem is they are inherently unsafe – they require the presence of power, pressure and control under disaster conditions – think Fukushima. Heavy water reactors, on the other hand, are inherently safe. The method of controlling the reaction in an emergency is not to add something (graphite rods) but to remove the heavy water which is done by depressurisation. If a saboteur blew up the core of a heavy water reactor it would immediately depressurise and shut off because the reaction cannot be sustained.
We have options. One is to use common sense and a five function calculator before making expensive decisions.


Renewables are NOT more expensive than coal, just as long as you keep subsidizing them.

Leonard Lane

You mean they are NOT more expensive than coal, so long as the parasites can live off taxpayer subsidies. If everyone had to work for a living and if they wanted renewables they could pay for them our of their own pocket, from the sweat of their own faces. Then coal might be prettier than unicorns.and $150 billion would look like a lot of money.


I’m in favor of research, but totally against the approach used thus far. We should not be subsidizing subpar technology to make it “commercially viable”. If anything, and simply allows people to stop pushing for new technology that is actually better, and cash in now.
A good analogy is the March of Dimes. It was the first grass roots movement to fund research into curing Polio. They brought in a lot of money, and funded some science into developing a vaccine. But if you look at the total spending, 98% of the money went toward palliative non-curative care at Polio camps and only 2% went toward actual research. FDR’s family was heavily invested in these “treatment facilities”, and benefited financially from the influx of money. And I think it’s easy to say that money spent to ease the suffering of someone with Polio is something worth supporting.
BUT, what if they had spent 10% of the money on research? 50% of the money? Even after the March of Dimes can into being, it took 10+ years to develop a vaccine. Over that time span, millions contracted polio. What if they could have sped up the discovery of a vaccine by 6 months? One year, two years? How many tens of thousands more people contracted Polio unnecessarily during the interim, because 98% of the money went into palliative care rather than finding a cure as soon as possible?
We don’t need feel-good spending on current technology that won’t change how we use power. We should spend money on research for the energy “cure”, not just spread money around to enrich those invested in non-curative technologies.


World War 2 which lasted for 6 years diverted almost all medical research into the war effort at that time.
Then it was later discovered,after the vaccine was developed, that polio is sewage borne.


Well, it is progress. At least they are not calling for the 10,000th proposed Marshall Plan.

With odd exceptions a motley crew, people who have founded companies with their own money and paid their staff for years have enough common sense not to put their names to fantasy projects of this kind.


Seems like this is the pattern: Demand ungodly amounts from govts to accomplish a useless goal, idiot govts give them a comparatively small amount compared to what they ask for, but they still get more than enough to keep the charade going from year to year as they keep demanding more and more. Rinse and repeat.

Dave Salt

Anyone who promotes the Apollo model as a way to advance our engineering or technology capabilities is both ignorant and dangerous!
As someone who grew up believing in Apollo and have worked in the space industry for more that 30 years, it gives me no pleasure to say that Apollo as one of the worst things that ever happened with respect to enabling human space exploration.
Apollo was never intended to enable human space exploration – it was a national security programme simply aimed at demonstrating that capitalism beats communism – and the evidence for this is obvious: it was cancelled after the first lunar landing, we can no longer put people on the Moon and are still using essentially the same type of rocket that first put a human into space.
Follow the Apollo route and you will end up spending vast amounts of money producing nothing more than a big government-industrial complex that will stifle innovation for the next half century… at least!

But, it did make it to the Moon, and it was known to be a feasible goal before we ever embarked on it.
Maybe if we had found something there worth going back for, we would have continued it.

Silver ralph

Navigating your way to the Moon, and controlling a craft weighing 3,000 tonnes, with the computing power of my wristwatch, was no mean feat. Do you think, in your wildest dreams, that our self-obsessed, bubble-wrapped society, could do the equivalent in just one short decade??


“Apollo was never intended to enable human space exploration – it was a national security programme simply aimed at demonstrating that capitalism beats communism.”
Von Braun told Kennedy that the Apollo project was a dead end, and Kennedy told him to get with the program.


In light of how truly magnificent the moon landings were in scientific, engineering and technical terms, as well as being arguably THE epochal achievement in human history, it is unutterably sad that they came to be as a result of what was, in the bottom line analysis, an obscenely expensive geopolitical dick-size contest which, once won, left those who made them happen yesterday’s news, at best. Those who believe, as I do, that establishing a permanent, self-supporting human presence off the Earth is not only worthwhile in and of itself, but also essential for the long term survival of humanity, have got to come to terms with the reality Dave Salt so eloquently outlined – that the Apollo Program, in the long run, did much more to impede that goal than to advance it.

“Unlike Attenborough’s renewables dream, hopes for an ITER breakthrough are based on known physics.”
Apollo also was based on known physics. Calls for a “Manhattan Project” or an “Apollo Project” often evince this fallacy. Neither of those projects was even remotely speculative. The physics were known. The only challenges were technological.
Not so with “renewable energy”. There, fundamental limits on efficiency are known which make it a pipe dream. It would only be similar if we had known, prior to Apollo, that rockets would not function in space, and nevertheless had committed the same funding we did, knowing we would never make it to the Moon.

David L. Hagen

Study the physics and economic further. The current efficiency and cost “limits” are not fundamental limits. Most of the discussion evidences lack of engineering understanding or creativity.


The efficiency is not the problem. It is the dilute source and storage that are the problems.

Ian Macdonald

They are. Perhaps a better analogy would have been if no rocket fuel with an adequate specific impulse existed to reach the moon, but it was nevertheless proposed to use a 5,000ft-high 40-stage rocket in the hope that it might just manage to get there. Most people would have argued that a more sensible approach would be to search for a better fuel. Even if no such fuel were known, the odds of finding one would be substantially better than having none of the 40 stages of the 5,000ft rocket malfunction.
Interestingly, the Manhattan project was an attempt to do something (create a nuclear fission chain reaction) which existed only as theory and had never been demonstrated in practice. That shows that in the right circumstances we are prepared to place a bet on what seems like worthwhile odds rather than simply pouring the money into a known but limited result.

David L. Hagen

Those are the challenges. Now what is needed to provide solutions. Both can be overcome cost effectively with focused development and insight.


Ian –
Leó Szilárd and Enrico Fermi created the first neutron chain reaction in 1939. It was pretty much a foregone conclusion after that. The success of the experiment prompted Einstein’s famous letter to FDR urging an atomic bomb project.
David –
Yes, that’s all fine and good. But, it isn’t existing technology, and hence still speculative. People have been trying to leapfrog existing technology for decades now. Many promising avenues have been investigated but, for one reason or another, have generally failed to produce significant return beyond niche applications.
I personally see no urgency. Sure, fund alternative energy at some level. But, not Apollo level. And, not as a neurotic aversion to perfectly good, existing fossil fuel technology and infrastructure.

David L. Hagen

Bart – look at the magnitude of the problem. 4-5% depletion/year on existing wells at 94 million bbl/day requires ~ 4.2 million bbl/day replacement production each year just to stay even. Adding 1%/yr for population and 1.5% for economic growth needs ~ 7%/year or 6.6 million bbl/day replacement & new growth fuel each year. That is close to Saudi Arabia’s total oil exports ( which are declining because increasing domestic consumption.)
So where do you go to find a new Saudi Arabia’s worth of replacement and new production EACH YEAR?
Why is Shell seeking to drill in the Arctic?
For context see Robert L. Hirsch on the PEAKING OF OIL PRODUCTION: IMPACTS, MITIGATION, & RISK MANAGEMENT addressing the structural engineering and construction requirements to address such peak oil demands.

David L. Hagen

Actual Saudi Arabian production and exports (August 19, 2015).

Exports climbed to 7.37 million barrels a day from 6.94 million barrels in May, according to data on the website of the Joint Organizations Data Initiative, or JODI. Output by the world’s biggest exporter rose to 10.564 million barrels daily from 10.3 million.

i.e., only 69.7% exported – 30.3% consumed and rising.


Yeah, David, I’ve been hearing this for about 40 years now. Always, new sources are found, and always, the day of reckoning is delayed.
So, what if I’m wrong? What if we’re really, truly going to run out this time?
Nuclear, then, is the way to go, IMHO. I do not want bird chompers or fryers. I do not want the toxic runoff of solar cell production. I do not want the damn things carpeting the landscape from sea to shining sea. There is no reason to destroy our natural habitat when there is a clean, renewable, compact, alternative energy source available.

Tom J

If these people genuinely understood the Apollo space program they’d stop referring to it. The basics to get to the moon were already well in existence by the time President Kennedy elicited his challenge in the early 1960s to the U.S. to send a man to the Moon in the next 10 years and return him safely to Earth. In fact it could rightfully be argued that the moon program began a quarter century earlier in Germany when the N..t..zi government provided substantial funding for missile research. The head of that missile program was Werner Von Braun who, 30 years later, would be responsible for the design of the Apollo rocket that took our Astronauts to the moon. Von Braun’s first successful rocket, the V2, would be acquired as war booty by Russia and the U.S. at the close of WWII, and would pave the way for the space race between the superpowers. The V2, with a solid fueled WAC Corporal rocket strapped to its nose, would give the U.S. its first experience with a two stage rocket before the 1940s had even ended. The problems with re-entry were already understood back then as well. By the middle 1950s Russia had successfully launched the first orbiting satellite, and later that year the second satellite, Sputnik II, would demonstrate that a living organism, a dog, could survive in space. Shortly afterwards the first Russian astronaut would orbit the Earth, and shortly before Kennedy’s announcement we had already sent up our own astronaut. Clearly, Kennedy’s challenge had not come out of fantasyland. Sure, there were huge technical hurdles to still be overcome, but the groundwork had already been laid long before, and the actions necessary through which to achieve it were well known.
Nothing. Nothing. Nothing at all even remotely comparable exists today in regards to comparing renewable energy to Apollo. There is no known renewable energy source waiting under tarps at a research facility the way the V2s were. And, with nothing waiting, there’s nothing available to scale up to the energy levels modern society exists on (excepting nuclear). A replacement for current energy sources cannot possibly exist if it does not yet even exist in the imagination. Everything for Apollo not only existed in the imagination most of it existed in reality.
Asking current society to perform an Apollo like mission for renewable energy is as silly as asking for a society in the 1800s to launch a moon program. Our successors may do it but we can’t. We don’t live in their world, a world we do not know, nor visit, nor imagine anymore than an inhabitant of the 1800s could’ve imagined ours. Can’t we have faith in ourselves, and the future generations of our species, and leave them alone to pursue their own solutions, and betterment, and be left prosperous enough to do so.


The only common denominator is U.S. taxpayer resources, but the growth rate of the tax base is much reduced from what it was in the 1960s. This is due to……progress and sophistication in leveraging more and more resources from a slowing demographic and competitive base. The new tactic is to pre-spend the money and raise the taxes later to “responsibly” patch the budget or rate of annual deficit.

David L. Hagen

Tony J.
Logically invalid as you know little of “if it does not yet even exist in the imagination”.

Ian Macdonald

It should also be remembered that Apollo was a symbolic gesture more than a scientific programme; the program was curtailed once it had been proven that lunar landings were possible, the last few Saturn V vehicles being transferred to space station work, or retired to museums.
Well before Apollo 11 (1966 IIRC) the Surveyor probes had shown that it was possible to land a robot on the moon, and that a robot could do more exploring, for longer, and at less cost, than could a human. Thus it was already understood that the future of solar system exploration would likely involve robots, not humans.
Though, the Apollo program still fascinates us, partly because the near-impossible was achieved with such basic technology. In many ways this is not unlike the building of the Pyramids in an age with only copper tools. In both cases we ask ourselves, “How the hell did they do that?” and in both the answer emerges that there were some mighty clever people involved.


Attenborough is old and tired, I can’t blame him for being taken in. It’s Cox that disappoints me enormously. Clearly an extremely academic chap and always putting down religion and promoting the scientific process over everything. Yet I suppose to get BBC licence fee cash he’s more than happy to trot out AGW bs which is religious nonsense that utterly fails the scientific process. Shame on you Cox, you’ll pay the price mate when your potentially long and prosperous career is cut short by the discovery of the fraud


“Clearly an extremely academic chap and always putting down religion and promoting the scientific process over everything.”
The concept that religion is magically preventing the “scientific process” from doing much of anything is utterly unfounded, as far as I can tell. The concept has been “religiously” presumed to be valid by many, with no sign of any “scientific process” involved, it seems to me. . as in, the making of a “new” religion I sometimes call Siants.
And it’s that view of science as a virtual God sort of religiosity, which allows things like the CAWG sect to flourish, I say, and undermine actual science itself, as well as freedom of the mind in general . . as is being demonstrated on virtually a daily basis. The scientific method is clearly a great approach to many problems, but it’s really just a tool, not a beneficent Saviour because when used by people bent on dominating and/or destroying, it works just as well.


Let me tell you about stupid. If I had had an employee come to me and pitch a project for $150B that would “make renewables economically viable,” I would expect him to tell me how he was going to do it. If he said, “Just give me the money, and I’ll get it done,” I would have kicked him out of my office.
Attenborough has project management bassackwards. Come up with an idea, then request funding for it. He only requests funding. “Attenborough, you’re fired!”

Robin Hewitt

BUT… This plan is an engineering project. The money should not go to climate scientists of TV documentary makers, it must go to someone who can make renewable energy cheaper than coal within 10 years. This is a job for real scientists in the real world. Machines do not work simply because a consensus of their designers agree that the design is good.


Green energy is good – I’m all for it, and of course so is our host! However, it is strictly limited by scale problems and this is what always has to be remembered. For example, upscaling wind turbines from small domestic systems to large MW types is never going to work because instead of having a single household struggling when there is no wind – you have thousands. Hence, you simply have to have the grid system as backup. (Just imagine being somewhere that relies on constant energy, such as hospitals?)
The renewable efficiency argument is rather moot when compared to the energy storage argument. For example, the greens will not allow hundreds if not thousands of hydroelectric temporary dams/turbines to use any excess of renewable production (not sure even if it would be possible, but you get the idea) – in essence excess production ‘storage’ is the only other alternative to nuclear or fossil if we want to go to renewables ‘en masse’. Even then, the daily demand far exceeds that can be achieved with current renewables. Investment in better renewables or perhaps more accurately, better renewable efficiency, will still only help the small scale ‘user’ without massive storage schemes. Ultimately, as most people will know (even the greens if they were honest enough to admit it) we would have achieved far more investiment return by investing in nuclear research rather than renewables/green energy. Similarly, in the UK, we have many regulations to improve energy conservation (house insulation, energy saving bulbs, and suchlike) and investment in these things provides a much better return in terms of a direct energy ‘demand’ benefit.
Basically, what I’m saying is that paying big bucks into renewables is like putting a sticky plaster on a severed limb – i.e.pointless – we should be looking at the tourniquet solution (restricting the flow!) – and to take my analogy a little further, perhaps to providing a base of higher quality higher density oxygenated blood (e.g. nuclear power). Nuclear will be the final choice – of that I have no doubt – but the wasted time and billions will of course already have been wasted.

Louis Hunt

If a research program did find a way to make renewables economically viable, environmentalists would find a way to oppose it, just as they do with nuclear and hydropower. Cheap, abundant energy would, in their minds, allow the world’s population to grow unchecked, and that would be a disaster to the planet. So, while they support expensive renewables, they will oppose any source of cheap energy, whether it is renewable or not.

Retired Kit P

Yes and no. First there is reason for environmentalists to oppose wind and solar. There is environmental impact. A few wind and solar projects are just an interesting novelty. When the amount of power generated is the same as a large coal plant, the reality is that maybe coal was better. Things often look better on paper.
Liberals love new ideas. If they work, conservative like them. JFK was pronuclear. Now that LWRs are proven technology, liberals are against them. There is a certain segment of parasites in society who are against every thing that keeps them warm and fed. There is drama in being against something. If you spend your workday being useful to society, you get enough drama dealing with the problems of the day. Then you come home to deal with your teenage children who have been how terrible the world is.

Stephen Richards

I concur


Question given that the availability issue with renewable energy is related to the rotation of the planet , is 150 billion really enough to solve this problem ?


I would support an ‘Apollo Project’, with substantial but not absurd funding, to finance practical research into all aspects of future energy needs and climate change. ‘Renewables’ would be part of that, but so would energy conservation, improvements in other energy sources (oil, gas, nuclear [including the crucial issue of decommissioning and waste disposal, which at present hugely inflate the cost of nuclear] ) , and geoengineering. I know that a lot of folks here have a kneejerk reaction against geoengineering, but I don’t see any serious objection to *research* on (e.g.) cloud seeding, carbon sequestration, ocean fertilization, or ‘sun-screening’. Some of the comments above imply that all useful research will be adequately funded by the profit motive. I have great respect for the profit motive, but it has its limitations. On purely commercial grounds, no-one will finance research if the potential returns are more than about 15 years in the future, or if there is no way under IP law of securing a fair share of the benefits to the financers of the research. The normal maximum term of a patent is 20 years, someone who invents something which only reaches a break-even point after 20 years gets nothing from it.


How about opening up Panama from South America like it was 3 million years ago so we don’t have another glaciation? Does that count as geo-engineering or is it only the reduce warming side that counts?


Wrong. We have no need to do anything. We have known energy sources with existing technology to last many generations, far beyond any living persons lifetime.
Apollo Project is absurd on several levels. It’s the wrong approach to projects, there is no need for it, even if it could work, which it can’t, and the approach is positively ripe for corruption.


Do they count an element as common as lead to be “renewable”? If so I have their answer … thorium! Way more abundant than the rare earth elements used in current “renewable” energy machines.
Now where do I collect my money?


You’ll have to wait 400 years til thorium becomes practical.

Gary Pearse

Yes, if no one works on it. My father was a steam locomotive engineer and these locos were retired not too long before Sputnik went up! The lefty elitists on the “list” don’t even include an engineer. It is why linear thinking social scientists and biologists, who do most of the projections on mean nasty futures, like Malthus’s death to civilization by burial in horse manure before the 19th century was over, completely lack an imagination and leave out the principal component- technology- from their consideration. Why would a biologist be considered an expert on the future. They study the unchanging habits of creatures and plants who don’t have this dimension. The future IS technology! No prognostication of mankind’s damage to the planet has ever come true. The reason is, it is axiomatic (Pearse’s Axiom) that we can’t do the planet any significant or lasting harm.
Hiroshima radioactivity fell back to background within a year of the bomb. They rebuilt it and it is a thriving big city. The Chernobyl exclusion zone has become a remarkable game park with essentially the whole range of animals, large and small, many of which were thought to have been extirpated if not gone extinct. In 40 years (not 400) we will have a population likely under 9B and it may even be declining with growth in prosperity and abundant food supply. We will have ample energy and we will be healthy in an environmment ever improving. This just doesn’t make good copy for the media.


My father, Dr. Aden Meinel, was the one in charge of going to the secret rocket caves in Germany and collect the scientists and bring home some rockets. But when he got there, the Soviets were already bombing the area and the Nazis blew up the electrical system while he was looking at the rockets inside plunging him into darkness and he had to flee, pretty much empty handed but with valuable documentation and a large number of German rocket experts including some very starved mostly French slaves who were viciously abused by the Nazis.
This is the beginning of the US rocket program. Before that, my dad and his friends were all members of a rocket club that played around with stuff but had virtually no money. After WWII, these same people had a lot of money, of course and NASA was finally born much later than WWII. I grew up inside all this stuff going on and whenever a President gave us money, my dad and his buddies would celebrate. But all too often, money was strangled but the public wasn’t told about this.
It was all very much hit and miss with the Vietnam war being a huge hit, for example. After the moon mission, it was hit hard, too, the politicians got their pictures and praise and then belly flopped everything.
Space shuttle: it was from day one a compromise that pleased none of the scientists I knew.


One wonders why Attenbourough et. al. seem to be oblivious to the fact that the US is currently wasting almost $50 billion/year on the goal he wants to achieve,
It will never work if we have a bunch of leaders from the White House successfully picking losers that happen to bundle $$$ in support of the Democratic.
Wasting $$$ on wind and Solar will never repeat NEVER achieve the goal of being competitive with fossil fuels, it is fundamental physics.
check the following references:
DOE Budget: $28 billion/yr
Climate Change: 21.4 Billion/yr


How did such a detail observer on nature show productions turn into this? I guess good script writing makes the performer look like a genius.


disappointing, but not surprising, to see BBC’s Attenborough heir apparent Brian Cox amongst the signatories.
the MSM loves to portray CAGW as a left/right issue, & uses US/Canada & Australia up until this week’s COUP, as the holdouts on ideological grounds.
however, EU is CAGW central and, at last count, 20 of 8 member States were rightwing. this is never mentioned in the MSM.
11 Sept: Bruegel Institute: European climate finance: securing the best return
There is a European interest in getting a global climate deal in Paris that entails high mitigation ambitions and involves the EU in shaping the global climate-finance architecture
By: Guntram B. Wolff and Georg Zachmann
An extended version of this paper was presented at the ECOFIN meeting in Luxembourg on 11 September 2015. Click here to download it (LINK)…
Climate finance is the most important tool the EU has to make a (Paris) deal likely.
***A strong and unified EU position backed by common resources would increase the EU’s ability to shape the emerging international climate institutions and their governance, to ensure that climate finance is used to reduce mitigation costs and to ensure that European industry benefits from the opportunities related to climate finance…
[20 of 28 member states? .mod]

Svend Ferdinandsen

It is a race against the sun. When demand of fossil fuel goes down, so does the price, I belive you can never win, until the last fossil fuel is burnt. If the effort is succesfull you only draw out the pain.


Lack of common sense from all of the above proponents appears to be the major problem.

Patrick Bols

Irrespective of global warming and the CO2 scare, it does make sense to work on nuclear and solar energy. Our planet has limited resources no matter how we slice and dice it and reliable energy supply should be a common good. Not sure however that governments have to spend all that money.