DeSmog on Vaclav Smil (this deep thinker is largely correct)

From MasterResource

By Robert Bradley Jr. — April 28, 2022

“In a profile in Science magazine, [Vaclav] Smil constructed his own models of how carbon dioxide emissions might affect climate and found it ‘wanting.’ ‘I have too much respect for reality,’ Smil said.” (DeSmog, below)

I have previously highlighted DeSmog pieces on climate and energy realists to show that simply imparting the subject’s views create good analysis. DeSmog might think they are prima facie hit pieces, but they are the opposite! Back door justice, perhaps….

Note the guilty-as-charged profiles on Robert Bryce, Isaac OrrDerrick HollieJohn Christy, and myself. Same for DeSmog’s analysis on the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

DeSmog has done so many profiles that it looks like we are in the majority. And in a sense we are! The public is not buying climate catastrophe (yawn), certainly not in paying more for energy.

Enter Vaclav Smil, a truth teller but a Malthusian nonetheless. Major excerpts of the Smil profile at DeSmog follow:


Stance on Climate Change

March 21, 2018

In a profile in Science magazine, Smil constructed his own models of how carbon dioxide emissions might affect climate and found it “wanting.” “I have too much respect for reality,” Smil said.

The Science article writes that Smil “accepts the sobering reality of climate change—though he is dubious of much climate modeling—and believes we need to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.” Smil, however, is skeptical of a rapid shift to alternative forms of energy.

January 2014

Writing in Global Energy Affairs, Smil said:

[B]ecause the world is so heavily dependent on fossil fuels the greatest challenge may be the way we will cope with global climate change.

Unfortunately, our models of global warming cannot tell us with a high level of confidence how rapid that change will be and how high the temperatures will rise in 50 or 100 years: difference of a single degree of Celsius translate into very different environmental and economic consequences. If we knew what was coming with certainty we could decide which one of the two main courses of action – gradual adaptation or an all-out effort aimed at emission reduction – is the more rational choice. But we do not, and this means that our production and use of energy, and hence our economic and social well-being, will continue to unfold in a world of profound uncertainty. That, too, is one constant that will not change for decades to come.

July 30, 2010

In a book published by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) press entitled “Energy Myths and Realities: Bringing Science to the Energy Policy Debate,” writing in a section on natural carbon sequestration, Smil wrote:

Global warming will […]  lengthen the growing seasons and intensify water cycling—that is, the overall amount of precipitation will increase—in many regions. This combination will result in higher plant productivity, a trend that was already evident throughout most of the United States during the latter half of the twentieth century. But what the long-term effect of such changes will be is not clear. Will the additional productivity be promptly negated by higher rates of respiration in a warmer world? Will most of its increment be stored in long-lived tissues, such as trunks and major roots, or tissues with rapid turnover, such as foliage and fine roots? And, most fundamentally, will global warming eventually convert forests from carbon sinks to carbon sources?


According to a review of Smil’s book, The Worst Is Yet To Be, he estimates a temperature increase of 2.5 to 3 degrees Celsius over the next hundred years.

While on sea levels, he says that “a cautious conclusion” would be that they will rise about 15 centimeters by 2050—“clearly a noncatastrophic change.”

According to Smil, the dollar impact of moderate global warming would be a “a trivial sum in all affluent countries.” He supports this with research from William Nordhaus.


[C]limate change resulting from emissions of CO2 (and from releases of other greenhouse gases) will have an indisputably global effect,” Smil wrote in a 2000 report titled “Energy in the Twentieth Century” in Annual Review of Energy and the Environment.


“Surely, hydraulic fracturing will not invariably poison the air, will not cause spates of local mini-earthquakes, and will not produce flaming faucets in all nearby areas (the three frightening clichés advanced by its opponents) — but the activity, especially if done in thousands of hurried repetitions and sometimes without careful planning, has the potential to be often unpleasant and disruptive, and sometimes outright damaging,” Smil wrote in an article at the American Enterprise Institute’s publication, The American.

Peak Oil

“Obviously, there will come a time when global oil extraction will reach its peak, but even that point may be of little practical interest as it could be followed by a prolonged, gentle decline or by an extended output plateau at a somewhat lower level than peak production. At the beginning of 2013, there are no signs that the beginning of this new oil era (regardless of its specific course) is imminent, and forecasting its onset remains an exercise in futility. Only one thing is abundantly clear to me: for the past 15 years I have been quite confident that there is no imminent danger of any sharp peak of global oil extraction followed by an inexorable production slide — and early in 2013 that confidence is greatly strengthened by new facts. Is it too much to hope that even some catastrophists and peak-oil cultists will find it impossible to ignore those numbers?” Smil wrote in The American.

Nuclear Energy

“Public unease about safety and problems with costs, liability, and permanent storage do not make a flourishing nuclear industry impossible, but they do demonstrate the enormous influence that mistaken public risk perception can have on government policy and reveal the consistently inept bureaucratic handling of the challenge so far,” Smil wrote at the American Enterprise Institute‘s blog, AEIdeas.

Nuclear energy’s discouraging record is even more unfortunate given that nuclear generation is the only low-carbon-footprint energy option readily available on a gigawatt-level scale. This is why nuclear power should be part of any serious attempt to reduce the rate of global warming. At the same time, it would be naïve to think that nuclear power could be (as some suggest) the single most effective tool for combating climate change in the next ten to 30 years. The best hope is for it to offer a modest contribution.

Key Quotes


In an interview with UM Today, Smil said:

Interviewer: “Tell me more about what’s happening on the energy front.”

Smil: “We haven’t made a single correct move in energy.” […]

“Hydroelectricity is the best, the most sustainable—I hate that word, sustainable. That’s the best form of renewable energy there is today, right? Because it runs all the time. Wind—well, you know, even in Manitoba, it’s not there 75 per cent of the time…. People feel constrained to be publicly correct to build a wind turbine farm…. Why do we do these stupidities, right? Well, because we feel renewable energy is only solar and wind, right? Not hydro apparently. Most people don’t think that way.”

Interviewer: “You mentioned you dislike the word sustainability.”

Smil: “Yeah, absolutely hate it [the word sustainability] because there is no such thing. Sustainability cannot be defined. Sustainable for what? Over next year? Over 10 years? Over a millennium? On a local basis, on a planetary basis? I mean, there are so many time and space dimensions to it you cannot define what is sustainable. If somebody is boasting that what they are doing is sustainable, it’s a total laugh. There is no sustainable thing.”

March 21, 2018

In an interview with Science magazine, Smil said: 

I have never been wrong on these major energy and environmental issues because I have nothing to sell.

 We have been increasing our global dependence on fossil fuels. Not decreasing.

November 2015

In an article in the OECD Observer, Smil wrote:

A shift to nuclear energy or to modern conversions of renewable energy flows was always inevitable. If fuel resources and technical abilities to recover them at affordable price were the only limitations, we could anticipate at least another century or more of coal, oil and gas. Global warming has made the transition to non-carbon energies a matter of some urgency, but we must nevertheless be realistic about the size and speed of such a shift.

A combination of subsidy changes–removing them from fossil fuels, enhancing them for new renewables–mandated production targets and intensified R&D could accelerate the transition to renewables, but it is unlikely to displace all fossil fuels in a few decades, particularly as many low income countries will rely on them for their development.

We should not forget that the environmentally least disruptive action is not to turn to new technical solutions to produce more energy in different ways, but simply to do with less. ‘Less is more’ has never been more desirable than in the case of tackling the rising levels of atmospheric CO2.

September 13, 2010

Writing at the American Enterprise Institute‘s blog, AEIdeas:

The myth that the future belongs to electric cars is one of the original misconceptions of the modern energy era, dating back to the introduction of the very first passenger vehicles.

“Flipping the switch” and going electric will not solve America’s automotive dependence on imported oil, either in the near- or long-term. A far better use of resources would be to focus on the development of more efficient gasoline-powered engines; there is no reason the U.S. fleet should not average 50 mpg rather than today’s average of less than 25 mpg.

September 8, 2010

Writing at the American Enterprise Institute’s blog, AEIdeas:

A new energy myth was created by the country’s most famous Nobel Prize-winner in July 2008 when former Vice President Al Gore claimed that America’s entire thermal electricity generation industry could be replaced by ‘green’ alternatives in a single decade: ‘Today I challenge our nation to commit to producing 100 percent of our electricity from renewable energy and truly clean carbon-free sources within 10 years. This goal is achievable, affordable, and transformative.’ Transformative it would be, but it would certainly not be affordable, and, even if it were, it could never be accomplished in such a short period of time.

July 30, 2010

In ”Energy Myths and Realities: Bringing Science to the Energy Policy Debate” Smil wrote that judgments about coal as an energy source have been “unfair”:

While fossil fuels remain the very foundation of modern economic growth, spreading prosperity and a decent quality of life, they are no longer seen in that light. Rather, they are perceived as undesirable, outright dangerous, or even immoral, since their continuing use is thought to pose an unprecedented threat to the survival of modern civilization. Growing fears about rapid global warming caused by emissions of CO2 from the combustion of fossil fuels are behind this increasingly stringent judgment, and these fears feed (mostly unrealistic) visions of an accelerated global transition to nonfossil energies.

Coal has always been more polluting in terms of particulate matter and sulfur oxide emissions than other hydrocarbons, and because it also has the highest CO2 emissions per unit of released energy, it is seen as the most undesirable choice. A closer look at coal’s attributes and the history of its use shows that this judgment is unfair and suggests that if the fuel’s conversion were done with the most efficient techniques available today, we would have no reason to view it so negatively.  Crude oil—largely because of the continuing indispensability of refined fuels for the entire transportation sector occupies a more exalted place than coal. Although its considerable environmental impact is a concern, the main worry about oil is that its global extraction may peak in the very near future, and that this peak will not be followed by a prolonged production plateau but, rather, by a steep decline that will bring a multitude of economic and social hardships—in the most extreme versions, the end of modern civilization. That is why the first myth I debunk in this part of the book is the peak  oil myth.

November 19, 2008

“To think that the United States can install in 10 years wind and solar generating capacity equivalent to that of thermal power plants that took nearly 60 years to construct is delusional,” Smil wrote in The American.

May 8, 2008

In a letter to Nature, Smil said he largely agreed with a Nature commentary by Roger Pielke Jr. and others about stabilizing carbon emissions:

“I largely agree with the overall conclusion of Pielke et al. that the IPCC assessment is overly optimistic,” Smil wrote. “But I fear that the situation is even worse than the authors imply.”

“The speed of transition from a predominantly fossil-fuelled world to conversions of renewable flows is being grossly overestimated: all energy transitions are multigenerational affairs with their complex infrastructural and learning needs. Their progress cannot substantially be accelerated either by wishful thinking or by government ministers’ fiats.”

Key Deeds

June 28, 2012

Smil wrote an article at IEEE Spectrum titled “A Skeptic Looks at Alternative Energy.” In the article, Smil contends that in “the world of new renewable energies […] subsidies rule—and consumers pay.” Smil argues that reducing emissions in the Western world would be “utterly swamped” by increases in coal use in China and India:

The ultimate justification for alternative energy centers on its mitigation of global warming: Using wind, solar, and biomass sources of energy adds less greenhouse gas to the atmosphere. But because greenhouse gases have global effects, the efficacy of this substitution must be judged on a global scale. And then we have to face the fact that the Western world’s wind and solar contributions to the reduction of carbon-dioxide emissions are being utterly swamped by the increased burning of coal in China and India.

November 15, 2011

Writing at The Americanthe journal of the industry-funded American Enterprise Institute—Smil argued against delaying the Keystone XL pipeline. He wrote: “Obama’s delaying consideration of the Keystone XL pipeline is what is called a spherically perfect decision, because no matter from which angle you look at it, it looks perfectly the same: wrong.”

Smil writes that CO2 emissions from the Keystone KL pipeline would be dwarfed by emissions from China, using this as an argument for why the pipeline would have little impact on climate change. He wrote: “If there would be no oil-sand oil produced in Alberta to feed the XL pipeline and then refined in the United States and the products burned in American vehicles, then the Chinese would generate an additional mass of CO2 equivalent to that prevented burden in less than two weeks.”

He concluded: “By preventing the oil flow from Canada, the United States will thus deliberately deprive itself of new manufacturing and construction jobs; it will not slow down the increase of global CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion (OK, by two weeks, perhaps); it will almost certainly empower China; and it will make itself strategically even more vulnerable by becoming further dependent on declining, unstable, and contested overseas crude oil supplies. That is what is called a spherically perfect decision, because no matter from which angle you look at it, it looks perfectly the same: wrong.”

July 30, 2010

Smil wrote a book published by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) press entitled “Energy Myths and Realities: Bringing Science to the Energy Policy Debate.”

In the book, Smil outlines a number of “myths.” The first supposed myth is regarding electric vehicles: “The myth that the future belongs to electric vehicles is one of the original misconceptions of the modern energy era, going back to the very introduction of the first practical passenger cars,” Smil wrote. “[I]t will be decades, rather than years, before we can judge to what extent electric cars offer a real substitute for vehicles powered by internal combustion engines and contribute to more efficient personal transportation in the United States.”

He describes nuclear energy as a “successful failure.” According to Smil: “Nuclear power should be part of any serious attempt to reduce the rate of global warming; at the same time, it would be naïve to think that it could be (as some suggest) the single most effective component of this challenge during the next ten to thirty years. The best hope is for it to offer a modest contribution.”


Vaclav Smil is basically right. Climate alarm is much less certain than the physical reality of energy density, which runs the world. Now that reality has come his way with the world energy crisis, he continues to be respected in the mainstream, as indicated by this recent New York Times magazine Q&A, Titled “This Eminent Scientist Says Climate Activists Need to Get Real.”

DeSmog can continue to quote Smil in updates, to which I say, “thank you and check your premises.”

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April 29, 2022 10:08 pm

So, another pundit who declares that nothing is settled wrt AGW?

April 29, 2022 10:18 pm

Award for Smil for saying he hates the word sustainable!

H. D. Hoese
Reply to  PCman999
April 30, 2022 2:01 am

Sustainability is a relatively new word. I would add that it had been taken for granted with more success. Discusses Leopold ideal. People trained by that schooling were down to earth, so to speak. Leopold died right after WWII.

Newton, L. J. J. and E. T. Freyfogle. 2005. Sustainability: a Dissent. Conservation Biology. 19(1):23-32.    Not OA, from the paper, worth reading abstract. “In its many forms, sustainability has drawn wide support as a conservation ideal, to the point where it has become, for many, the guiding light of environmental work….”

Reply to  PCman999
May 1, 2022 3:14 am

I wouldn’t rate SF or San Jose as sustainable places but they were rated #1 and #2 recently via the UN metrics-

Geoffrey Williams
April 29, 2022 10:35 pm

Smil has got too much to say for himself.

Reply to  Geoffrey Williams
April 30, 2022 8:46 am

Smil is a lukewarmer, but a welcome relief from the extremists. A very well studied guy who politicians ignore.

April 29, 2022 10:49 pm

I was permanently banned from Desmog several years ago, I didn’t realize that it was still in operation. Desmog seems to be a left over from a bygone era.

Bryan A
Reply to  Klem
April 29, 2022 11:06 pm

Left over or Over Left

Ed Zuiderwijk
April 30, 2022 12:19 am

As Judith Curry once said: if you have a page on DeSmog you have made it. It proves you are right.

Michael ElliottMichael Elliott
Reply to  Ed Zuiderwijk
April 30, 2022 12:54 am

Regarding the comments about Nucllear power, forget the obsession over Chernival, that was poor Sovie style

Instead look at the French Govt. Owned Nuclear Industry. It’s highly successful.

But let’s also stop the utter nonsense of working so hard to reduce CO2 , even if it’s a problem, when the likes of both India & China poor billions of Tons into the atmosphere.

It’s all about ” Virtue Signalling, look at us, we are so very Green”.

A very costly exercise which will bankrupt us.

And possibly that is exactly what the Green interests want to happen.

Michael VK5ELL

Richard Page
Reply to  Michael ElliottMichael Elliott
April 30, 2022 6:13 am

I agree with you about the negative image from Chernobyl and a certain amount of manufactured anti-nuclear propaganda, but at the same time we must acknowledge that Nuclear does not hold all of the answers. It should be viewed as a substantial part of the solution going forward, but we’ll likely need other forms of energy as well – in all likelihood we’ll not stop using hydrocarbon deposits for centuries to come.

Reply to  Ed Zuiderwijk
April 30, 2022 8:57 am

They created a Profile page on me. Similar to the Profile above for Vaclav Smil, the hapless intern at Desmog who was tasked with creating my Profile could not come up with anything actually damaging to me. More funny is how they could not bring themselves to link to current page versions of my GelbspanFiles blog, and they offered nothing to counter what I said about their beloved co-founder James Hoggan.

Last edited 1 year ago by Russell Cook
April 30, 2022 2:10 am

If we knew what was coming with certainty we could decide which one of the two main courses of action is the more rational choice.

I think that’s always been a concerning issue about everything in life, isn’t it?

I mean, it could be a bear, a bullet, a fire, a flood, a volcano, a famine, a pandemic, an asteroid or a gamma ray burster. Or any number of things. If only we could just see them coming…..

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Doonman
April 30, 2022 4:37 am

“If only we could just see them coming…..”

Isn’t that the truth.

Well, we, some of us anyway, can see one trainwreck coming pretty clearly if the West continues down this insane road of trying to get rid of oil and gas.

Reply to  Doonman
April 30, 2022 4:52 am

Exactly right! We need to start thinking about uncertainty as a feature, not a bug.

There are decent decision analysis processes that can account for uncertainty. These often make people uncomfortable because the result is probabilistic, and the likelihood of success not as high as they’d like. This discomfort then gets aimed at the process, and used as an excuse for adopting simplified and usually emotional decision making. But of course the simpler processes are still at the mercy of uncertainty, we just hide and ignore it, taking comfort in false confidence.

April 30, 2022 2:13 am

The best working assumption is that Climate Change is entirely natural. The greatest hazard comes from psychopaths wielding power.

Reply to  pochas94
April 30, 2022 2:57 am

Dingdingding!!! We have a winner!!! Climate changes, constantly. It always has and always will. Humans are not causing it to change and cannot stop it from changing.

Reply to  pochas94
April 30, 2022 4:26 am

Or at least mostly natural. Either way, we can’t stop it, we can only adapt and defend. The best course of action is to get as wealthy as we can so that we have the resources to deal with whatever the climate hands us. The people who want to impoverish us in the name of climate change are doing the exact opposite of what they should be doing and, if we listen to them, vast amounts of unnecessary suffering and death will be the result.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  pochas94
April 30, 2022 4:40 am

“The best working assumption is that Climate Change is entirely natural.”

And there is no evidence that it is not natural. The Earth’s climate is natural until proven otherwise and this has not been done. Not even close.

Burl Henry
Reply to  Tom Abbott
April 30, 2022 6:53 am

Tom Abbott

No, Tom, the climate is NOT entirely natural.

It is driven entirely by varying levels of SO2 aerosols circulating in the atmosphere, of both Volcanic and INDUSTRIAL origin

When either volcanic or industrial levels of SO2 aerosols increase, average global temperatures decrease.

And when either volcanic or industrial levels of SO2 aerosols decrease, average global temperatures increase, because of the cleaner, less polluted air.

This simple statement of fact is empirically testable, and has been tested AND validated multiple times.

Reply to  Burl Henry
April 30, 2022 7:54 am

Why? Why aren’t you telling the IPCC and NASA and ….and all the folks about this earth shaking news?….and ….and could we have one example? And,…… name the No. One Industrial Polluter of SO2 ino the atmosphere.

Burl Henry
Reply to  Anti_griff
April 30, 2022 3:40 pm


See my paper “A Graphical Explanation of Climate Change”

And “The Definitive Cause of Little Ice Age Temperatures”

Data on industrial SO2 aerosol pollution polluter is available only by country at this time. In 2019, it was China.

Burl Henry
Reply to  Burl Henry
April 30, 2022 3:47 pm
Tom Abbott
Reply to  Burl Henry
May 1, 2022 5:38 am

Burl, you are correlating your results with what I consider to be a distotion of the Earth’s temperature record, the bogus, bastardized Hockey Stick global “temperature” chart.

If your results correlate with a bogus temperature profile, that makes your results bogus, too.

Here, see how your data correlates with a real surface temperature profile, the U.S. regional surface temperature chart (which I would contend represents the global temperature profile):

comment image

Correlating your data with the bogus, bastardized Hockey Stick chart disproves your contention that SO2 is the driver of the Earth’s climate, I would say.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Burl Henry
May 1, 2022 5:45 am

comment image

Here is a graphc showing the difference between the temperature profile of the U.S. surface temperature chart and a bogus, bastardized Hockey Stick global “temperature” chart.

As you can see, the temperature profiles are completely different. The U.S. chart shows it was just as warm in the recent past as it is today, and the bogus Hockey Stick chart makes it appear that the temperature profile has been getting hotter and hotter for decade after decade and the Earth is now the warmest in 1,000 years. And it’s all a Big Lie created to demonize CO2.

Burl, correlates his data with the bogus Hockey Stick chart, when he should be using the legitimate U.S. temperature chart instead. If he did, his SO2 hypothesis would evaporate.

Last edited 1 year ago by Tom Abbott
Burl Henry
Reply to  Tom Abbott
May 1, 2022 9:18 am

Tom Abbott:

No. I am NOT correlating with any “bogus, bastardized Hockey stick chart”

What I have done is to determine the CAUSE of each temperature change of about 0.1-0.2 deg C, as shown on the WoodforTrees .org 1850-2020 graph. that I used. The reported AMOUNT of the change (which has been bastardized) does NOT matter.

I found that EVERY instance of temperature increase or decrease was associated with a change in the amount of SO2 aerosols circulating in the atmosphere, from either volcanic or industrial activity, with no exceptions.

Also, if you read my paper “The Definitive Cause of Little Ice Age Temperatures”, you will see that all of the temperature decreases were due to SO2 aerosols from VEI4 and larger volcanic eruptions, further proof of the climatic effect of SO2 aerosols.

And as I have also pointed out, the thesis that SO2 aerosols are the Control Knob of our climate is empirically testable, and has been tested AND validated multiple times. Therefore, all of your objections are irrelevant. since only ONE validated explanation for a given problem (in this instance, Climate Change) can exist.

Burl Henry
Reply to  Tom Abbott
May 1, 2022 8:12 pm

Tom Abbott:

You CANNOT compare US surface temperatures with average world-wide temperatures without expecting them to be different Our weather differs from that of other areas in the world, which are averaged in.

I can’t believe that you would make such an inane statement.


April 30, 2022 3:02 am

It is encouraging to read much of what he says, at the same time he is so clearly infected with leftist ideology that he very much appears to be speaking out of both sides of his mouth. Can only have one foot on the dock and one on the boat for so long until you end up in the water. In the final measure you have to choose, reality or leftist fantasy. Can’t have both.

April 30, 2022 3:23 am

While some of his ideas are logical, he avoids identifying the root cause of climate alarmism — the fraudulent demonization of CO2. The “left” is enjoying this sideshow — this distraction from the the core problem (for the US, it’s the EPA Endangerment Finding) and the march toward the New World Order — where you will own nothing and be happy.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  John Shewchuk
April 30, 2022 4:43 am

The Left is using this Climate Change sideshow as a means of gaining political power and controlling the rest of us.

Tom Abbott
April 30, 2022 4:34 am

“Deep Thinker”?

I’m not impressed.

Bruce Cobb
April 30, 2022 4:51 am

For the most part, he is very sensible energy policy-wise, debunking a lot of the Alarmist myths. He did say this though about autos, which is very questionable:

A far better use of resources would be to focus on the development of more efficient gasoline-powered engines; there is no reason the U.S. fleet should not average 50 mpg rather than today’s average of less than 25 mpg.

There are plenty of reasons why that is both a fantasy and a bait-and-switch. First, if there truly are any further improvements to the way engines are made such that they can do the same amount of work using less energy, those will be made in their own time. Usually though, there is a trade-off because it usually means higher cost. For the consumer, there is no gain to be made in paying more for an improvement in efficiency than can ever be regained by using less gas. The other reason is an even more obvious one: you can’t just make smaller lighter cars, which obviously have a higher mpg rating, if that isn’t what people want. And, government has no business in meddling with people’s car-buying habits anyway.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
April 30, 2022 6:40 am

I recently purchased a hybrid and am enjoying it. I went from a vehicle averaging 17 miles per gallon utilizing premium high octane gasoline to a vehicle getting 40+ miles a gallon using regular gas. This type of vehicle makes a lot more sense than the all electric to me.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  Stu
April 30, 2022 7:18 am

That is immaterial though. People can and should make up their own minds about what type of car they want. Different strokes. That is the essence of a free market economy. Usually it’s some combination of what appeals to people, and simple numbers-crunching, although even that is just a guess, depending on where gas prices go. We just need to remember though, that our government, in their infinite wisdom has chosen to favor EVs and to some extent, hybrids. So the numbers are being skewed, but for how long. Furthermore, cost-shifting is morally a gray area. Those who take advantage of the Greenie Scam are participating in something which is ultimately hurtful to society as a whole. Additionally, that scam will not last forever.

Old Man Winter
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
April 30, 2022 8:57 am

“cost-shifting is morally a gray area”

like our needlessly high gas prices that favor EVs.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Old Man Winter
April 30, 2022 2:44 pm

like our needlessly high gas prices that favor EVs.

Surely you aren’t suggesting that the high prices are intentional! /s

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Stu
April 30, 2022 2:41 pm

I went from a vehicle averaging 17 miles per gallon utilizing premium high octane gasoline …

Sounds like my ’65 Corvette. And, why would I want to trade it for something that might not make it up a steep mountain pass road, other than virtue signalling?

Old Man Winter
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
April 30, 2022 9:13 am

Fifty years ago, full sized cars were getting 10-15mpg, whereas they now get 25-35mpg- 2x-3x more-
with much of that through fuel injection, better transmissions, & lighter weight. The EZ gains have been
made & trying to get to 50mp will include a big drop in weight & size which will affect safety, especially in
accidents with much larger trucks & SUVs. No thanks.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
April 30, 2022 9:25 am

Exactly. While my wife and I have both owned hybrids for the last decade, their cost penalty is only now starting to pay off.

I also need a pickup. I recently replaced my 15 year old full-size (V8 and 4-speed transmission) with a mid-size (V6 and 8-speed transmission). Using the new truck exactly as I did with the old, excluding the miles spent towing, I went from a 17 mpg average to a 20 mpg average. All the new technology brought relatively little benefit. There are no capable hybrid pickups available to get an additional improvement in mpg and the EV pickups just coming out have extremely poor range while towing.

Biden’s 50 mpg standard is not achievable. It’s just a hidden tax – if you want a capable vechicle, you’ll have to pay a gas-guzzler tax.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
April 30, 2022 6:25 pm

The range of 50 mpg is nearly in the bag. A number of auto engine makers are already pushing 50 mpg. Using gasoline 50 mpg will probably be the practical limit due to the energy in the fuel. Diesel engines run on light oil and regularly will produce 60 mpg in a well-designed passenger car. 60 mpg is about the limit for IC engines.

In the last 5 years Toyota is in the forefront of automobile engines. They already are introducing engines(gasoline) that are pushing 40mpg. The latest Sienna minivan already gets 36mpg regularly. Toyota is only building hybrid Siennas for 2022-23.

If Toyota and other makers can get 50mpg in a van and 70 in a moderate sized car that will be sufficient that diesels will be superfluous. Pretty quickly the higher efficiencies will get put in smaller and smaller vehicles.

April 30, 2022 6:53 am

While on sea levels, he says that “a cautious conclusion” would be that they will rise about 15 centimeters by 2050″

Smil is neither correct nor deals in reality.

difference of a single degree of Celsius translate into very different environmental and economic consequences.”

Smil is still an alarmist believing alarmist delusions.

Sweet Old Bob
April 30, 2022 7:27 am

“Unfortunately, our models of global warming cannot tell us with a high level of confidence how rapid that change will be and how high the temperatures will rise in 50 or 100 years: difference of a single degree of Celsius translate into very different environmental and economic consequences.”

Really ??

Prove it !

Danley Wolfe
April 30, 2022 8:35 am

The AAAS Science article mentioned is dated, March 2018 however the NYT interview is quite recent April 22, 2022 (paywalled, availble only to subscribers) although it continues along Smil’s same beliefs and thinking. I imagine most of WUWT followers admire and agree with Vaclav Smil’s thinking and writing. However, profouund wisdom, and unbiased viewpoints don’t sell to agenda-pushing libs, especially on climate change. Why muck up a great political activist movement with impeccable logic and clear expression of what really is known and can be unarguably stated as so incluiding the limitations of knowledge and steps / actions that are possible and the costs and impacts of doing them on human existence as we know it. Choices are “always possible” but proponents of limiting, even banning carbon fuels has very significant effects on the quality of human life on Planet Earth. Smil should be made the banner carrier for those seeking best reasonable achievable steps on realistic climate solutions / options. Opening paragraph of the Times piece:

(Quote) The “really” in the title of Vaclav Smil’s newest book, “How the World Really Works: The Science Behind How We Got Here and Where We’re Going,” is doing some heavy lifting. Implicit in the renowned energy scientist’s usage is the idea that most of us are uninformed or just plain wrong about the fundamentals of the global economy. He aims to correct that — to recenter materials rather than electronic flows of data as the bedrock of modern life — largely through examining what he calls the four pillars of modern civilization: cement, steel, plastics and ammonia. (The production and use of all four currently requires burning huge amounts of fossil carbon.) Which brings us back to that “really.” In the context of Smil’s book, which will be published May 10, the word is also a rebuke to those calling for rapid decarbonization in order to combat global warming. “I am not talking about what could be done,” says Smil, who is 78 … “I’m looking at the world AS IT IS” (my emphasis). (Unquote)

Smil in this latest piece strongly criticizes the over use of hyperbolic language such as “imminent” and “catastrophe” and empasizes that there is lack of honest acknowledgement of the real tradeoffs of policy decisions… I frankly am surprised the NYT would publish this article which is perhaps the most reasonable expression of: a) what we really know and can say about climate change, b) what are the real tradeoffs of policy solutions, c) if the general public understood the truth on said tradeoffs .. what we know and can say and can do in any reasonable time frame … how THAT surely would helpt to shape / define reasonable achievable policy solutions. But radical lib greens don’t care about formulating best, reasonable, achievable approaches.

Reply to  Danley Wolfe
May 1, 2022 7:57 am

“But radical lib greens don’t care about formulating best, reasonable, achievable approaches.”
Would these people even read an article that challenged their narrative, even if it was published in NYT. If they did look at it, would they stop reading the instant they were forced to consider an alternative view?

Dave Fair
April 30, 2022 10:10 am

To those rejecting Vaclav Smil for his various “transgressions,” pobody is nerfict.

April 30, 2022 10:41 am

Energy is what allows people to live in cities. Population density (people per square mile) is low without added energy.

Transporting supplies and raw materials in, transporting finished products and waste out.

Take away the energy and the cities cannot exist.

Reply to  ferdberple
April 30, 2022 8:19 pm

“Take away the energy and the cities cannot exist.”

If you take away all energy supplies, it’s doubtful that any Homo Sapiens tribe could exist. Of course, modern, wealthy humans in cities consume much more energy than less wealthy people in remote parts of the countryside, but, nevertheless, every human family needs a certain amount of energy, even if only from the burning of wood for cooking, and heating the home in winter.

The following Wiki articles provides some history.

“The control of fire by early humans was a critical technology enabling the evolution of humans. Fire provided a source of warmth and lighting, protection from predators (especially at night), a way to create more advanced hunting tools, and a method for cooking food. These cultural advances allowed human geographic dispersal, cultural innovations, and changes to diet and behavior. Additionally, creating fire allowed human activity to continue into the dark and colder hours of the evening.
Claims for the earliest definitive evidence of control of fire by a member of Homo range from 1.7 to 2.0 million years ago.”

There’s a fundamental principle which Climate Alarmists don’t appear to understand, and that is, that our prosperity and security is entirely dependent upon the supply of energy, the cost of that supply, and the ways we use that supply of energy. If the cost of energy rises, then, on average, everyone’s prosperity will be reduced proportionally, unless measures are taken to offset such increased energy costs, for example, by using the available energy more efficiently, through technological development, and/or by reducing the wasteful use of that energy. It is estimated that more than a billion tonnes of food is wasted every year, world-wide. That waste is valued in the hundreds of billions of dollars. I’ve seen figures as high as 940 billion dollars.

Investing in the production of additional and alternative sources of energy which are less polluting and less destructive to the environment is sensible. However, as Vaclav Smil has repeated over the years, any transition to such alternative supplies of energy should be gradual, or the economy will be seriously disrupted.

A favourite idea of mine is to encourage the building of Ultra-Supercritical coal-fired power stations surrounded by large Greenhouses. With state-of-the-art emission controls, the Ultra-Supercritical power plants produce almost zero polluting emissions, but still emit that wonderful gas called CO2 that enhances plant growth. The CO2 emissions could be channeled through the greenhouses to increase the crop production.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Vincent
April 30, 2022 8:54 pm

… and a method for cooking food.

Critically, cooking adds energy to the food and kills pathogens, improving the odds for surviving.

April 30, 2022 12:40 pm

Malthus was correct. But a Malthusian outcome was delayed due to 1) Opening up large agricultural lands in the Americas and Australia and 2) Unprecedented technological advances.

The first is a one-off event which can’t be repeated. The second was overwhelmingly a product of white males in what was once known as western civilization. White males are declining in absolute numbers and western civilization is in full retreat around the world.

So far, east Asian scientists have not picked up the slack and even if they did, it remains to be seen whether the the rest of the world would benefit.

As for Africa, they are still searching for that elusive “African Einstein”.

Dennis G. Sandberg
May 3, 2022 5:36 pm

Nice to hear from someone who thinks we have a little more time to save the world, but surprising that he considers SO2 the climate change biggie. i thought modern BACT had put an end to that:
EPA reports wet scrubbers >90-98% SO2 removal. My understanding is that current construction for coal/lignite fired generation in the East uses ultra supercritical combustion and BACT equaling USA controls for emissions (other than plant food).Such a small percent of So2 hardly constitutes a “control knob”.

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