1 of 4
1
Climate Change - Hpw to fix it
Posted: 22 October 2012 11:25 AM   [ Ignore ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1762
Joined  2007-10-22

For those interested in global warming; etc.  The following is a book review from the Economist:

The Carbon Crunch: How We’re Getting Climate Change Wrong—and How to Fix It. By Dieter Helm. Yale University Press; 273 pages; £20. To be published in America next month; $35. Buy from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk
IN DECEMBER 2009, as the Copenhagen climate conference fell apart, the chairman of Greenpeace UK, John Sauven, said “the city of Copenhagen is a crime scene tonight, with the guilty men and women fleeing to the airport.” His remark captured some of the salient characteristics of climate policy: the importance of treaties and regulation; the central role of politicians, advocacy groups and non-governmental organisations such as Greenpeace; the pervasive moral certainty; and, though this was only in the background, the commitment to renewable energy, especially wind and solar power, as the primary means of cutting carbon emissions.
For many people, the great problem of climate change has been a failure of regulation and political will. If only, they say, the obligations of the Kyoto accord had been more comprehensive, the regulations stricter, or if more money had gone into renewables. Then the world might have reined in the temperature rise and the public would not have become so sceptical about climate change.

Not so, says Dieter Helm of Oxford University. It is not the failure of the regulations that is the problem but their basic design. They have caused people to focus on the most expensive ways of mitigating climate change, rather than the cheapest, imposing high costs for little gain. Moreover, by concentrating on their own carbon production, and how to reduce it, Europeans have ignored the impact of their continued demand for goods made using carbon- intensive processes. Since Chinese and Indian manufacturing is usually dirtier than Europe’s, the real upshot of Europe’s choices has been an increase in global emissions. The regulatory approach, argues Mr Helm, has got the worst of all worlds. It is expensive, it has not cut emissions and its treaties are unworkable. No wonder the public is growing sceptical.
The heart of Mr Helm’s book is an examination of the economics of renewable energy. Take wind farms. Wind-power generators are expensive. But this is only part of the problem. They are also intermittent. One day last February, wind power produced almost a third of German electricity; four days later, nothing (it was a calm day). This, argues Mr Helm, has damaging consequences. Supplies are unreliable so wind does not really add to the security of a nation’s energy supplies though proponents argue that it does. Nations have to build lots of spare capacity for windless days. This was fine when wind farms were marginal, but now they produce a tenth of Germany’s electricity and their output is rising fast. To make matters worse, wind messes with the economics of the spare capacity, too. When the wind blows, the extra energy is free. Other forms cannot compete and the standby generators have to close. But other sorts of power stations are not designed to be switched on and off: they are supposed to run all the time. Since energy cannot yet easily be stored, wind farms are making other forms of energy uneconomic.
The system therefore relies on a panoply of subsidies which, as night follows day, has produced an enormous industry to compete for them—wind and solar firms, lobbyists, NGOs and politicians. The entire renewables sector, Mr Helm argues, has become an orgy of rent-seeking.
Green activists, politicians and NGOs will hate this book. But Mr Helm has done a service to everyone else by describing what a global climate-change mitigation regime would look like if one took economics seriously. You would start, he says, with the cheapest way of reducing carbon emissions (not the dearest), meaning gas, especially abundant shale gas. Gas produces less than half as much carbon per unit of energy as coal and about 50% less than oil. But the French government wants to ban shale-gas production.
Second, you would introduce a carbon tax, rather than (as now) a carbon price. These sound similar, being different ways of embodying in the price of a good the real cost of the carbon it takes to make. Actually, a tax is better. To see the difference, consider an extremely toxic substance such as mercury. Even a small amount in a river can do immense damage, so this is a case for strict permits, which should be tradable to encourage efficiency. You want fixed amounts and a variable price. Carbon is different. A small amount extra makes little odds. But miscalculating the cost of reducing emissions, as the world is doing, is expensive. In this case it would be better to fix a price (ie, a tax) and let the quantities vary. Third, Mr Helm argues, some of the money that goes on renewables would be better spent on future clean technologies such as carbon capture, energy storage and electric vehicles.
This prescription is unrealistic. Europeans are too committed to their regulatory approach to change now. But Americans, Chinese and Indians would learn a lot from Mr Helm about cutting carbon emissions rationally. And all readers will get a cogent account of how self-defeating current global climate-change policies are turning out to be.

from the print edition | Books and arts
.

 Signature 

Gary the Human

All the Gods and all religions are created by humans, to meet human needs and accomplish human ends.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 October 2012 11:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Member
RankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  150
Joined  2012-07-25

The green stuff on our planet needs carbon dioxide to live. It is not like mercury.  Free carbon dioxide !
Liberate the harmless trace gas required for life as we know it. Don’t fall for the “CO2 bad slogan”...it is a lie.
CO2 good…ask a tree !

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 October 2012 12:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1397
Joined  2010-04-22
sine dues - 23 October 2012 11:59 AM

The green stuff on our planet needs carbon dioxide to live.

True, but this is a vastly oversimplified descrption of the problem. Increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide is good for plants, not so good for calcium-shelled animals, and not so good for anything that relies upon a stable climate.

 Signature 

“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk

Profile
 
 
Posted: 24 October 2012 06:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Member
RankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  150
Joined  2012-07-25

Please show me what a stable climate looks like….where have you seen this mythical creature….is this the computer model that the CRU has been playing with. That assumption of ‘stable climate’ is really the basis for the global warming mistake….in my tiny ignorant world…hey we are all entitled to our opinions…however far from reality they may drift…..but really…what do you mean by stable climate?.....

Profile
 
 
Posted: 24 October 2012 07:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2405
Joined  2007-07-05

Does physics have anything to do with this?

Do capital goods wear out due to friction and therefore depreciate?

What have economists said about the depreciation of all of the durable consumer goods for the last 50 years?

Was any CO2 produced manufacturing that junk?

Oh yeah, I forget.  Economists don’t talk about NET Domestic Product anyway.

psik

 Signature 

Fiziks is Fundamental

Profile
 
 
Posted: 24 October 2012 08:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
Member
RankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  150
Joined  2012-07-25

No
No
Nothing
No

Profile
 
 
Posted: 24 October 2012 10:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1397
Joined  2010-04-22
sine dues - 24 October 2012 06:19 AM

what do you mean by stable climate?.....

Repeatability to a reasonable degree.

 Signature 

“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk

Profile
 
 
Posted: 24 October 2012 10:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  348
Joined  2006-11-27

I’m always a little baffled by the antagonism between proponents and opponents of global warming theory.  It seems to me scientists are extremely good at examining data and detecting trends, however, identifying causes is somewhat more difficult.  So, it’s very likely that there really are changes in the environment and these changes are occurring rapidly.  It’s also probably that human CO2 emissions have something to do with it, but, even if by some chance the cause is not actually related human activity, it is still very important for the future of our race and the planet to assess the progression and consequences of rapid warming and our ability to influence it.  I don’t understand why this area of science elicits so much more vitriol than a discussion of sunspots, or the discovery of a new and dangerous virus.  It has always seemed to me that most of the proactive measures that have been suggested for dealing with the problem would be pretty good ideas to institute anyway. (I’m not trying to weigh in on international agreements, I’m not an economist and the ramifications of treaties are beyond me).  At a total guess, perhaps the reactions are so strong because the possible effects are so dramatic and frightening that the possibility must be denied, or perhaps the weather is somehow the last bastion of religion?

[ Edited: 24 October 2012 10:32 AM by Jeciron ]
 Signature 

If we’re not laughing, they’re winning.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 24 October 2012 10:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
Member
RankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  150
Joined  2012-07-25

Hey there tromboneA, I dont understand what you mean by that. Could you explain or give an example?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 24 October 2012 10:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
Member
RankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  150
Joined  2012-07-25

jeciron- I am not a scientist so my understanding of Earth climate is not very deep, I am not alone in this ignorance. Many who speak out about it are ignorant and loud…Al Gore comes to mind….perhaps the reason for such vitriol is that the solution is most likely as bad or worse then just keeping on with what we are doing. Commenting on your last statement ....dont confuse weather with climate…..notice that you never hear anyone worried about…‘weather change’ only climate change.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 24 October 2012 11:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3052
Joined  2011-11-04

The problem of wind and solar power providing, primarily, only intermittent energy could be addressed with improved, cheaper battery technology.  That may be on the horizon.

 Signature 

As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 24 October 2012 11:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1397
Joined  2010-04-22
sine dues - 24 October 2012 10:30 AM

Hey there tromboneA, I dont understand what you mean by that. Could you explain or give an example?

Climates are a pretty complx subject. By repeatability, I mean that given some place, the climate is in a repeatable pattern that the organisms in the ecosystem can adapt to. The tricky thing is that this does not always mean stark stability or climatic stasis. Climates can be stable at one level of time measurement and unstable at another.

For example, in Michigan measuring climate from month to month isn’t really that stable - the whole summer/winter thing. It changes. But it changes the same way from year to year. And looking daily, weather can be pretty unpredictable. But the daily weather changes always fall within a realm of possibilities, depending on the time of year. It’s a kind of predictable unpredictability. Looking longer - say, over decades, the climate looks again much more stable. Yearly rainfall and temperature stays roughly the same.

The things that cause a lot of stress to organisms (and people) are the things that disrupt whatever repatability any climate has had going for a while. So, while the weather in Michigan is in a way predictably unstable, things would get mucked up pretty good if along comes a 12-inch deluge in 24 hours. In different ways, things may get mucked up pretty good if the yearly rainfall gets cut in half - or doubles - as a sustained, multiyear change.

 Signature 

“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk

Profile
 
 
Posted: 24 October 2012 11:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1397
Joined  2010-04-22
TimB - 24 October 2012 11:20 AM

The problem of wind and solar power providing, primarily, only intermittent energy could be addressed with improved, cheaper battery technology.  That may be on the horizon.

There are some bureaucratic problems too. Here in Michigan, it is apparently illegal to hook up a solar or wind generator that is independent from the electric grid. This means that there always has to be a voltage conversion. Which reduces the efficiency of the generators. Not to mention which makes them cost more.

 Signature 

“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk

Profile
 
 
Posted: 24 October 2012 11:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3052
Joined  2011-11-04
TromboneAndrew - 24 October 2012 11:33 AM
TimB - 24 October 2012 11:20 AM

The problem of wind and solar power providing, primarily, only intermittent energy could be addressed with improved, cheaper battery technology.  That may be on the horizon.

There are some bureaucratic problems too. Here in Michigan, it is apparently illegal to hook up a solar or wind generator that is independent from the electric grid. This means that there always has to be a voltage conversion. Which reduces the efficiency of the generators. Not to mention which makes them cost more.

The biggest deterrent to the development of alternative renewable sources of energy, I think, is and will be that fossil fuels will continue to cost less.  Part of this is due to the continuing massive investments in increasing fossil fuel production, the existing established infrastructure, and, as you suggest, bureaucratic hurdles.  So whatever the new energy resource will be, it will have to be relatively inexpensive indeed.

 Signature 

As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 24 October 2012 12:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
Member
RankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  150
Joined  2012-07-25

Wind and solar power ( let me put my big boy pants on…) will never be able to supply industrial processes. It is possible to run a household but it would be very iffy in the northern climates. When ever people talk about wind and solar it always seems to be about the potential…and on the horizon and just around the corner….and not very often is the disappointing reality ever extolled. Stop with the hatred…we are blessed with oil, gas and coal…without these forms of energy our lives would be bleak and stern and tedious.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 24 October 2012 12:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
Member
RankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  150
Joined  2012-07-25

The biggest deterrent to the development of alternative renewable sources of energy, I think, is and will be that fossil fuels will continue to cost less.

I disagree TimB. The biggest deterrent is the fact that so far the renewables don’t work as advertised and fossil fuels work better than anything else. To simplify….the biggest deterrent to eating crappy food is all this tasty healthy food around….if we tax the hell out of good food more people will choose crap food…and all of humanity will be better for the sacrifice….

Profile
 
 
   
1 of 4
1