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By Robert Rapier on Jun 25, 2010 with 115 responses

The Climate Change Thought Police

I have taken grief from some readers at times for my position on the issue of Climate Change. I have always maintained that I am not an expert, and therefore I accept the scientific consensus on climate change. This is no different than my standard in many other fields in which I am not an expert. If I get a diagnosis from my doctor, I may get a 2nd opinion, but generally I must defer to the experts on the matter. They might be wrong, of course, but I simply don’t have the sort of training they do to get into the fine details of the diagnosis. I am a believer in peer review and the scientific method. Despite occasional missteps, those have served us well.

Hence, my position has always been that I accept the scientific consensus on climate change, but also understand that science isn’t static. Therefore, it is important not to shut debate down and short-circuit the scientific process. But many climate change advocates have long sought to do just that by trying to intimidate people into not discussing the issue. They like to say “the science is settled and those who disagree are deniers.” I view the labeling of people as “deniers” as such an intimidation tactic. It is a remark intended to disparage those with a different view, and as such I don’t believe it has a place in this debate (no matter how correct you think you are).

However, even though I have always accepted the scientific consensus on this issue, I think there is little that we are going to be able to voluntarily do to stop the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The reason for that is that this is a global issue, and many countries are going to gravitate toward the cheapest source of energy – usually fossil fuels. Thus, my position on CO2 emissions has always been that they will likely continue to increase as long as we have fossil fuels to burn. (I have explained my views on this in detail here and here). Here is an illustration that backs me up:

Despite our best efforts, CO2 continues to rise, and again I believe it is because it is practically impossible to get a global agreement with enforcement teeth. It will be tough to convince a developing country with coal reserves not to exploit those reserves. Many developing (and developed) countries have refused to limit their emissions, and so despite Kyoto and other agreements the CO2 concentration rise has been unabated.

So that’s my view in a nutshell. That doesn’t imply that I don’t think there is a problem. It only suggests that I can’t see us fixing it voluntarily. So recently when I was asked about CO2 emissions at the 2010 Global Footprint Conference, I summed up my views as I have done so here.

I was quoted in a news release:

There is no cheap-oil future for us, and if humanity doesn’t make the transition to a sustainable energy source, Mother Nature will. Robert Rapier, Chief Technology Officer of Merica International, issued this dire warning during a presentation at an international forum in Colle di Val d’Elsa, Italy, on Monday. Rapier is among the experts at Footprint Forum 2010, an international gathering of 200 scientists, economists, and business and government leaders to discuss today’s most urgent environmental challenges and strategies to address them.

According to Rapier, peak oil — when oil production rates begin an irreversible decline — will have a direct effect on global warming. “When there’s a decline in oil production, the first thing we do is turn to coal plants and tar sands,” he said. “We will demand that because we have built a society on cheap oil. But eventually fossil fuels will run out. That would solve our CO2 issue — it would solve a lot of problems. But I don’t like how Mother Nature solves these problems.”

I generally choose my words carefully, because they are so often taken out of context. Note what I did and did not say. I was asked specifically about CO2 emissions. I chose to focus on that instead of simply talking about global warming or climate change, because even those who don’t agree about man’s impact on climate change have to acknowledge that CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere are rising. Likewise, I did not say a word about temperature, nor did I imply that climate change would be instantly solved when we run out of fossil fuels. My comment was specific to CO2 – emphasizing the fact that I think the concentration will continue to rise while we have fossil fuels to burn.

So how did some fanatics respond to this?

Excerpts from Person A:

R^2,you have officially jumped the shark on CO2, IMO. Yours is also (Kjell) Aleklett’s position which why he’s listed as a CC denier. The idea is that CO2 causes warming, no more CO2 means no more warming, which is incorrect.

By jumped the shark I mean you’ve officially entered the realm of the CC deniers.

There are several camps of deniers. Some say we will run out of fossil fuel very soon and it will start to cool off–in other words a temporary phenomenon. I place you in the third camp.

Lest you think that is a random fanatic, someone else chimed in:

Excerpts from Person B:

Methane increases are already happening. Releases from the Arctic tundra and sea floor already exist. Aleklett does make exactly he same error: CO2 = FFs. Bzzzzzzt! Wrong! Rapier is wrong. Period. So is Aleklett.

Frankly, I put you in the same camp as Aleklett, too.

Really, it’s quite a ridiculous argument, totally devoid of logic. I see no difference here, Robert. CO2 will level off after we stop burning CO2? Tell that to the clathrates and the tundra, because they are saying you’re full of methane.

I simply don’t know what to say to people like this. Note that in this case, they have labeled me a “denier” because they extrapolated my position into something it is not. They chose to put words in my mouth. One falsely claimed that I was suggesting that it would soon start to cool off as CO2 stopped rising. The other falsely claimed that I suggested all greenhouse gases would immediately stop climbing. Note that I neither said nor implied any of the things they attributed to me.

What can you say about someone who would slap a derogatory label on anyone they feel isn’t in compliance with their views on climate change? It invokes images of a “Climate Change Thought Police.”

I do not want to see this issue turned into a religion, where belief trumps all and disbelievers must be harshly dealt with. That’s what these two have done, and they are certainly not isolated in their opinions. But when you go so far as to start slapping derogatory labels on those who don’t even dispute that there is a problem, then you deserve your own labels. You are nothing more than Joe McCarthy looking for phantom Communists everywhere.

  1. By John Gear on June 25, 2010 at 2:34 am

    I think you might be very interested in a book that is not about climate change per se but about how to think about issues where the lay public must necessarily rely on others (scientists) to form a policy position — it’s called “What’s the Worst That Could Happen” by Greg Craven. He outlines a thinking process that is as close as most of us are likely to come as objective. It’s quite good, witty often enough to help you keep reading, etc. His insight was that Pascal’s Wager (that, even though you can’t prove that God exists, the way to live is as if God does exist) could be applied to climate change usefully — as he puts it, we could all be wrong no matter what we believe we know, so the question is, how should we (as a society) act, given that there is a chance that we’re wrong either way. In other words, is it better to act like climate change is a big hairy deal that commands a serious effort or not. You might like his clever, fun YouTube videos too.

    http://www.amazon.com/Whats-Wo…..0399535012

    At some point — and we’re just about there, if not there — people who take policy positions for a living . . . such as, say, noted energy bloggers, really do have to come off the fence, because (as Craven writes in his book), choosing not to decide is actually making a choice (in this case that “Climate change isn’t something we have to do anything about right now”).

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  2. By Fran Barlow on June 25, 2010 at 2:38 am

    Mr rapier

    Speaking as someone who is not a scientist, but who accepts the maintstream science on this matter, I can easily accept your distress at being verballed. Plainly, you are not rejecting the IPCC position.

    I do think your choice of term, climate change Gestapo, is unfortunate. Nobody is going to drag you away in the middle of the night with murder or GBH in mind. Even the loudest, most unreasonable and boorish correspondents are not in that league, and you cheapen the language when you allude to such a painful period in human history in the service of a rhetorical point.

    I do not share your view that “peak oil” can solve the problem. I don’t accept the fall off in fossil fuel combustion driven by scarcity will precede the moment when catastrophic consequences of the build-up in atmospheric and hydrospheric CO2 inventories will become unavoidable. One cannot exclude the possibility that we have already reached that point, and if we haven’t, it surely isn’t far away. There is indeed disturbing evidence of the decomposition of the Arctic tundra, with its stores of CH4.

    It is indeed possible, and maybe even probable that our governance will fail us in this matter. It is very hard to focus people’s minds much beyond an event horizon of about three years, especially when significant assets must be deployed or funds raised. In my view, we need a very rapid transition away from coal, oil and gas fired stationary energy, in favour of nuclear power, and a rapid coextensive conversion of transport fleets to electrical power, with fossil fuels reserved only for those elements of the fleet where electricity would be impracticable (e.g. road-based heavy haulage and refrigerated vehicles). As much weight as possible should be shipped on electrified rail and even bulk carriers could be nuclear powered.

    Once again, I am sorry to hear that you have been assailed as unfairly you have and hope that future correspondence to you is in measured and thoughtful terms.

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  3. By Orkneygal on June 25, 2010 at 2:59 am

    The church funded Aristotleian Scientists of the day were universal in their condemnation of Galileo Galilei’s ideas.

    He was convicted of blasphemy for not accepting the “tenets” of the Church’s view of the world.

    Today’s equivalent to the Aristotleians have their snouts in the public trough rather than the Church’s and they are called warmists. The principle is the same. The majority believe what they believe because that is how they get their government grant money.

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  4. By David on June 25, 2010 at 3:06 am

    A less loaded way of describing the situation is that the believers are trying to give you the bum’s rush, to unceremoniously escort you out of the debate by putting you in the category of the bum that walks into the restaurant. It is an undignified way of treating a person one happens to disagree with. At the least it does not win converts.

    I have taken the approach that when people try to rush me into any position I become obdurate. It is my way of denying (there’s that word) them victory. My motto is call me anything you want; just don’t call me late for dinner.

    But seriously, when someone is trying to rush you, they are probably in too much of a hurry. Nothing that we rush into now is going to benefit us very much and often will do more harm than good. For example if we are able through technology to cheaply turn cellulose into biofuel so that plant “waste” becomes a valuable commodity, what will happen to the humus in the topsoil that all land life ultimately depends upon? Will the third world have the money to set up a system of agricultural commissioners to police land use so as to prevent widespread erosion and soil exhaustion through monoculture? Who is asking these questions as we rush headlong into production of alternative fuels paid for by carbon taxes?

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  5. By Stan Lippmann on June 25, 2010 at 3:38 am

    Welcome to the club. I am the world leading expert in this subject and I can assure all of you that AGW is a complete fabrication, starting with Stephen Schneider at Columbia in 1970 (by his own admission!). He is a fail plasma physicist who got caught up in the student riot at the time. Thus, he departed from objectivity from the start and has kept this nonsensical racket going his whole career. Meanwhile, millions are already dead from diversion of corn to ethanol, and whether or not the environmental wackos know it or not (some do, some don’t) while they ignore all of the REAL environmental disasters (ocean mercury x3, acid rain, despeciation, mine tailings, industrial waste, fluoride, nuclear waste dumps) all they fixate on is this stupid hoax, because they are intellectually lazy and rather than personally get closer to their maker by pursuit of knowledge, the bandy around this idiotic moral fig leaf as a substitute. People like Schneider and McKibben are in some sense more evil than Adolf Hitler, because although Hilter killed millions, these (perhaps unwitting) stooges are out to kill 80% of us “useless breathers”, i.e. anyone who didn’t get into Harvard or Stanford, by alternatively 2050 or 2100, depending on which offical UNEP plan you actually peruse, their fallacious scheme, which has absolutely no basis or acceptance within the physics community, would necessary lead to mass death orders of magnitude beyond what Hitler was able to achieve. But like Hitler, even after surrounding himself in the bunker, he was ultimately unable to avoid capture and met his demise as swiftly as Schneider and McKibben are about to meet theirs.

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  6. By rrapier on June 25, 2010 at 3:26 am

    I do think your choice of term, climate change Gestapo, is unfortunate.
     


     

    After thinking about it, I agree and changed the title.

    RR

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  7. By rrapier on June 25, 2010 at 3:39 am

    I do not share your view that “peak oil” can solve the problem. I don’t
    accept the fall off in fossil fuel combustion driven by scarcity will
    precede the moment when catastrophic consequences of the build-up in
    atmospheric and hydrospheric CO2 inventories will become unavoidable.

    Ah, but that’s not what I said. What I said was that I believe CO2 emissions will rise as long as we have fossil fuels to burn. I made no mention of catastrophic consequences before or after that time. In fact, my comment about Mother Nature “solving” the problem explicitly stated that those problems can be solve in a very unpleasant manner.

    RR

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  8. By rrapier on June 25, 2010 at 3:54 am

    choosing not to decide is actually making a choice (in this case that “Climate change isn’t something we have to do anything about right now”).

    John, I have never said that I am agnostic on the issue. Nor have I suggested that we shouldn’t do anything about it. The problem is that I can’t see any proposed courses of action slowing carbon dioxide emissions measurably. Look at that graph on Mauna Loa and see if you can find the impact of Kyoto, the most comprehensive CO2 agreement to date. You can’t see any impact at all, because it was not a binding, global agreement. I can’t see the world agreeing to something like that, which is why I don’t think we will voluntarily fix this.

    RR

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  9. By Neil Craig on June 25, 2010 at 8:44 am

    I would like to take issue with the idea that there ever was a “scientific consensus” on global warming. I have asked journalists, broadcasters at the BBC & elsewhere, politicians & alarmist lobbyists now totalling in the thousands to name 2 prominent scientists, not funded by government or an alarmist lobby who have said that we are seeing a catastrophic degree of warming & none of them have yet been able to do so. I extend this same invitation here. To be fair an employee of a British national newspaper was once able to name 1 independent scientist who supported this, but 1 is hardly a consensus.

    There is not & never was a genuine scientific consensus on this, though scientists seeking government funds have been understandably reluctant to speak. If there were anything approaching a consensus it would, with over 31,000 scientists having signed the Oregon petition saying it is bunk, be easy to find a similar number of independent scientists saying it was true, let alone 2. The whole thing depends on a very small number of people & a massive government publicity machine, both very well funded by the innocent taxpayer.

    Or perhaps Robert will be able to name such members of the “Consensus”? Over to you Robert.

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  10. By Jerry Unruh on June 25, 2010 at 9:31 am

    The unfortunate situation is that the climate change debate is a microcosm of our present national mood – derisive. While you were “attacked” for your views at the conference, several of the posts above vehemently “attack” those who think that climate change is real and serious (and this includes me).

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  11. By Wendell Mercantile on June 25, 2010 at 9:56 am

    Where I’m sitting right now was covered with 5,000 ft of ice only 12,000 years ago. So there is little doubt in my mind that climate is dynamic and constantly changing. After all, the climate is still rebounding from the Holocene Ice Age.

    The question is whether anything humans do can change the trajectory of natural climate change over the next millions and billions of years.

    My own belief is the answer is, “No.” In the flow of geological and astronomical time, the period when humans lived on earth will be nothing but a pimple, and it’s unlikely our relatively short time on earth will change the direction of where the earth’s climate would be heading if we weren’t here.

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  12. By russ on June 25, 2010 at 10:12 am

    It is a no winner Robert – 99.9% of those critics will know less than you but they don’t understand how much they don’t know. Both extremes will twist words, facts or whatever else to support their position. Both extremes seem to believe that the result counts and how how you get there is not important. No one can argue logic with a person who has staked out a fixed position, fanatics or others of that ilk.

    Personally, I have no problem with the use of the term of gestapo, climate nazis, green mafia and more. Too many of these people have absolutely no idea of any science but someone has convinced them. I never use those terms for anyone who wishes to be open and rationally discuss the climate situation. Kind of like belonging to one political party or the other so anything the opposition parties do is bad.

    I recently was involved with a poor fool who had a solar PV system installed – grid connected plus batteries. He had no idea of the output, components or why any part of it was there but he knew how good it was and what a great person he is for having it. I expect he paid three prices for it as he had no idea of what he was getting in to.

     

     

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  13. By Jeremy on June 25, 2010 at 10:39 am

    Even if one does not accept the fact of climate change due to the increasing levels of carbon in the air from burning of massive amounts of fossil fuels daily. One can not deny the fact the ocean waters are becoming more acidic from the carbon being absorbed.
    An increase of 30% since industrial age began has been measured.
    One does not need a degree in marine science that if this continues (as it will if the present course is followed), lead to the demise of sea life. Acidic waters will impied hard shell creatures to form their shells. More acidic waters will alter the chemistry so species will not reproduce.
    Also, it has been noted that oceans currently are a heat sink.
    The oceans are warming….another bad sign.
    Yes, we’ll have a Gestapo, but not the kind you envision.
    We already have the “Thought Police”, the campaign being waged now by vested interests (ie coal and oil) with their pogrom to discredit the science.
    The sad thing time has run out…just as the folks in the Gulf.

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  14. By Phil Dickie on June 25, 2010 at 11:15 am

    A thoughtful piece Robert. As someone who works in the field and spent far too much unproductive time at Copenhagen last year, I find the labels are generally unhelpful. There are plenty of uncertainties and new developments in the science, the majority more rather than less alarming. The core of the consensus – it’s happening and we have a lot to do with it – is the solid bit. In an open society, people are entitled still to dispute that for whatever reason, including those I might find bizarre. I would never label them “sceptics” however, as they are among the most credulous bunch around. What we do need to be careful of is the mischief of the vested interests who developed the techniques of Big Tobacco, not so much to deny but to create and foster unwarranted uncertainty. Their victims, not that they care, are disproportionately the most vulnerable of the vulnerable. Ultimately, however, we are all in dangers way.

    And what if it is, by some unimaginably small probability, all wrong. What have the majority got to lose from more efficient economies, more responsive politics and an ethos that is more care and less exploit.

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  15. By John Dodds on June 25, 2010 at 11:22 am

    You do NOT have to be an expert to understand the Greenhouse effect.. It is simple- add a photon of energy to a GHG and it delays that photon from escaping to space hence resulting in warming.
    If you do NOT add the photon of energy to the GHG, but just add a GHG to the air, you do NOT get a greenhouse effect. You just get increased excess GHGs in the air. Just like ther is already excess GHGs water vapor in the air.

    The IPCC says that “more GHGs results in more warming” (AR4, WG1, Ch1, p116) and yet when the GHG water vapor triples to 100% when it rains, the temperature does not go up, the greenhouse effect temperature does not triple. The IPCC science logic is false.
    When the sun rises in the morning and the number of photons required for the Greenhouse effect increases, then the GHE temperature increases as more of the excess CO2 and water vapor GHGs in the air are used, in spite of the IPCC insisting that you need more man generated GHGs and CO2 to get more warming. Likewise, when the sun goes down, the GHE decreases in spite of the man generated CO2 still increasing.
    It is the number of nature made photons, not the number of man made GHGs that dictates how much greenhouse warming we get. The IPCC and computer models are incorrect. Controlling emissions or CO2 does nothing to the temperature. It just costs money.
    (For an alternate explanation of climate change see a paper at http://www.scribd.com called Gravity causes Climate Changes. http://www.scribd.com/doc/2734…..ate-Change )

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  16. By rrapier on June 25, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    While you were “attacked” for your views at the conference, several of the posts above vehemently “attack” those who think that climate change is real and serious (and this includes me).

    Jerry, agreed. There is too much animosity on both sides of the debate. I have seen the name-calling in both directions. For me in this particular case, it was over-the-top in that the name-calling didn’t even accurately reflect my views.

    RR

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  17. By Benny BND Cole on June 25, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    RR–There is no use venturing into the global warming waters. You will only get in a crossfire. And why bother?

    You are an accepted expert on most energy matters. That is quite a feather in the cap, and well-earned (even if I disagree with you on the future, which I think is actually quite bright).

    What can RR’s subtle horn add to the scratchy cacophonic roar of the global warming debate?

    Meanwhile, I will not that higher CO2 levels boost crop yields, and evidently the globe was warmer back when Vikings made their way to North America, about 1000 years ago. Greenland was habitable, and then became inhabitable, due to worsening cold.

    It is fascinating to consider that except for global cooling, we might now all be wearing horned helmets, and smiting our enemies with swords. The Norse might have colonized North America.

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  18. By Nick on June 25, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    I appreciate your discussion of this. As I’ve watched it evolve, both sides have become much more “in your face” on their issue. I think the most important thing to do is to ensure that the scientists continue to debate the issue as they would any other scientific issue. However, our responsibility as citizens and voters is to use the conclusions that have come out so far that are decently solid and get action on that. With so much disinformation out there, the many non-scientists/non-policy detractors get labeled in order to keep the debate clear in a media environment of soundbites. It’s unfortunate, but until both sides can safely come back to the facts and discuss the issue properly, it’s going to happen.

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  19. By Rufus on June 25, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    There are just too many looney-tunes on Both sides of this debate.

    Everyone needs a 5 yr. “time out,” but it’s already in the realm of Politics, and Money. It’s a mess.

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  20. By rrapier on June 25, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    RR–There is no use venturing into the global warming waters. You will only get in a crossfire. And why bother?

    You are an accepted expert on most energy matters. That is quite a
    feather in the cap, and well-earned (even if I disagree with you on the
    future, which I think is actually quite bright).

    You essentially capture why I have not waded into the debate. I am an engineer with a background in energy. The field of energy is big enough to keep me plenty busy. I am not a climate scientist, nor do I have time to delve in deeply into the climate change issue. There are so many issues – this being one – that you have to peel several layers of the onion before becoming really knowledgeable enough to debate intelligently. I don’t like superficial arguments, and were I to wade into the debate that is where I would be initially until I had spent many hours of research on the issue. I don’t have many hours to spend, so I am merely an interested observer.

    RR

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  21. By Jim Cramer on June 25, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    Stan Lippmann said,

    Welcome to the club. I am the world leading expert in this subject and I can assure all of you that AGW is a complete fabrication… …People like Schneider and McKibben are in some sense more evil than Adolf Hitler… … Hilter… …Hitler…

    Stan, you are NOT the same club as Robert Rapier. You are in the club with those that Mr. Rapier complains about (Persons A & B). I guess Mr. Rapier might call this the Joe McCarthy Club.

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  22. By rrapier on June 25, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    Or perhaps Robert will be able to name such members of the “Consensus”? Over to you Robert.

    Here is a start:

    http://news.mongabay.com/2010/…..imate.html

    “When you look at the leading scientists who have made any sort of statement about anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change, you find 97 percent of those top 100 surveyed scientists explicitly agreeing with or endorsing the IPCC’s assessment,” he said. That result has been borne out by several other published studies that used different methodology, as well as some that are due out later this summer, he said.

    RR

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  23. By Bob Schmidt on June 25, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    Robert,

    I just want to thank you for the integrity you display.  (Maybe, it’s just that the more of your work I read, the more I find I agree with you, LOL.)  I also believe that we must trust those scientist’s who have dedicated their lives to understanding this complex subject.  I feel somewhat close to this because my sister is firmly in the ‘climate change is a scam’ camp and it is very difficult to get past the ad hominem attacks to achieve rational discussion about the issues.  The denier side arguments resonate very well with her.  I think the success of the denier’s techniques to influence public opinion really has the advocates of human caused change extremely worried and clearly some are losing their marbles in panic.

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  24. By Kit P on June 25, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    We live in a world where more than a billion people do not have access to electricity or clean drinking water.  The technologies to provide such basic requirements have been around for 100 years.   

     

    However, periodically a new consensus is reached about the standards for producing such basic requirements.  It is all well and good for climate scientists to reach consensus that AGW should be a criteria but it is just one of many criteria.

     

    AGW is a very easy problem to solve too.  For example, I could reduce ghg emissions over night in places like California and Germany by 50%.  Just ration the amount of fossil fuels burned to by 50%. 

     

    I can suggest this because I am not running for public office in those places.  It is interesting that California a consensus.  Other places should change.  

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  25. By Saoirsí on June 25, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    Thank you very much for this.

    I used to be in the automatic camp of acknowledging AGW, and I’ll admit, a lot of it had to do with the vested political and economic interests that I saw dismissing it; that may be an ad hominem argument strictly speaking, but also as a non-expert I have to ration my time, and I tend not to give the benefit of the doubt to people will not consider a real-world possibility because it does not fit into their ideological framework. “But what if it were real, then what?”; no answer.

    Then about 2 years ago, two people who I personally know and respect started to have their own doubts about it, or at least the framework being built about it. I started reading up on it more myself… and I started to really, really get alienated from what I saw as the mirror image ideological refusal to countenance any skepticism, criticism or doubts. I find it wholly offensive on every level that “the science is settled” has now entered the popular vocab as a way of disbarring the very process that is supposed to underlie science itself – open intellectual debate. It is repugnant to use “denier” (a sly way of associating questioning with Holocaust denial, it seems to me) for anybody who upholds the right to debate.

    And I’m sorry, but scientists are every bit as emotionally and professionally invested involved in their theories as regular mortals, they are not beyond ulterior motives even if they think they are on the side of the angels.

    So thanks for speaking about it. Frankly, I’m much more inclined to listen to and be influenced by someone like you.

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  26. By Saoirsí on June 25, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    And not to bang on about it, but I actually really resent the notion that we are all supposed to just defer to experts with degrees now, and not do any dangerous independent thinking, when there are oceans of experts in everything from the arts to economics that manage to royally muff up if not most predictions or advice, then the stuff that really seems to count or be of importance. Why not just have them vote for us too?

    If it were up to the accredited experts, we’d all be listening to atonal, orchestral twelve-tone music, and we’d all be millionaires by selling houses to one another. I must say I’m not hugely impressed by the methodology of that link, with respect. I know enough about academic and institutional environments to know how these things can be gamed, and how scoring brownie-points by issuing mediocre papers and outputs counts for more than actual innovation and daring ideas.

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  27. By Wendell Mercantile on June 26, 2010 at 12:04 am

    For example, I could reduce ghg emissions over night in places like California and Germany by 50%.

    Kit P.

    The energy consumption in Germany per capita is already less than 50% of that in the U.S. (Energy equivalent to 8.6 tons of oil per person per year in the U.S. compared to 4.13 tons/person/year in Germany.)

    Just get the usage rate in the U.S to drop to that of Germany and you will have accomplished a lot. And it should be easy don’t you think? Few people would say the Germans live any less comfortably than we do.

    Even better: Get the U.S. to consume energy at the rate those happy Danes* do. (Energy equivalent to 3.64 tons of oil/person/year.)
    _______
    * The people of Denmark continually rank as some of the happiest with on the planet. If they can do that on 3.6 t/p/y, why couldn’t we?

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  28. By E. Boyle on June 26, 2010 at 6:24 am

    Keep up the good work on energy, very appreciated.

    GW is a big argument, particularly in the states, like abortion or religion, due to basic ideological divide of people like Palin or radio talk show hosts who say they would shoot polar bears to keep drilling on the Alaskan North slope going. The left / right divide is like before the Civil War and GW discussion has become captive to this. The real issue is the basic beleif systems (American Way of Life, empire). Slavery for example was the supposed bone of contention back then but really there were other issues, aobut way of life and basic belief systems. Obviously PO is a more basic technocratic analysis (Limits To Growth, etc.) which most GW pro/con voices don’t understand the subtleties of and just jump to black /white conclusions based on code words. Being in the middle is dangerous when the middle falls away (see pre-Hitler Germany, reds vs. Brownshirts fighting in the streets and the moderate govt. losing weight).

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  29. By Kit P on June 26, 2010 at 11:57 am

    Wendell your response indicates the problem that RR is pointing out in reducing ghg emissions.  Energy use provides a higher standard of living.

     

    As Wendell suggests, I could go to all my neighbors and tell them to tear down their houses and move into a small apartment because that is what the Danes and German do.

     

    This like my idea for rationing, ideas that the public will not accept are a waste of time.  Just as debating AGW is a waste time if you can not agree on solutions.  The answer is to let the engineers come up with solutions.  

     

    California and Germany have reached consensus on how they are going to achieve ghg reductions.  Both reject new nuke plants in favor of burning natural gas.  

     

    Most of the AGW camp think my utility should shut down the coal plants that make my electricity which would double the cost of power.  Of course as long as China keeps building cheap inefficient coal power plants, what we might do will make no difference.

     

    However, helping China build new nukes will.  

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  30. By Edpeak on June 26, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    They chose to put words in my mouth”

    Maybe it would help if you were more careful in the words you use, and then you’d be less misunderstood? For example you said, “But many climate change advocates..” Um, I think you meant to say, “climate change awareness activists” because very few people actually, you know, “advocate” that they “want” the climate to “change” (read: be destabilized) by human activities. It’s kind of like calling folks concerned to reduce or eliminate a disease like malaria as “malaria advocates” as if they are “advocating” malaria instead of advocating action on malaria. An extra word or two (or different words) would be better, especially since you’re so ’sensitive’ about words applied to you, ya know? And speaking of not putting words in other people’s mouths, I wasn’t there for your encounter but can say that *most* people who say “the science is settled” are referring to the science is settled on 1) climate “change” (destabilization) is real, is happening 2) is to a large extent due to human activities and sometimes also 3) poses significant risks. They very rarely are claiming the “science is settled” about other things like, “100% complete understanding”or what exactly, exactly, will happen where (sub-regions of Earth), or exactly when. Please don’t put (false) words into the mouths of people by (mis)representing what they actually mean when they refer to the science being settled, ok? Those who deny there is a settled consensus on 1), 2), and 3) are indeed deniers, and that’s a very mild, kind word to use for them, there are much stronger words that would be used to describe the action of claiming something that overwhelming evidence shows is true (1, 2, and 3) and then trying to convince everyone not to take the commonsense protective steps and by not taking the protective steps, large long-term disasters are highly likely. “denier” is a very mild term for someone like that. What would you call someone who advocates in-action where they know, or should know if they are honest, that this inaction will be hugely destructive? You’d not use terms as mild as ‘denier’, or even as mild as ‘dangerous dishonest person’ either. Then again if you’re not denying 1,2,3 above, be more specific and clear. As the above examples show, you too should think about not “putting words into people’s mouths”” (and having read the above excerpt, if you quoted someone saying “running out of fossil fuels…will solve our co2 issue” as you did, then you should add a disclaimer, “not true, given feedbacks from existing and in-the-pipe warming may cause additional co2 release…” in fact “running out of fossil fuels…will solve our co2″ is a terribly sloppy statement, and should not be quoted at all, or else with a huge disclaimer)

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  31. By rrapier on June 26, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    Maybe it would help if you were more careful in the words you use, and then you’d be less misunderstood?

    I was wondering if the thought police might actually show up, here to justify the use of labels for someone they deem is not towing their very precise line.

    For example you said, “But many climate change advocates..” Um, I think you meant to say, “climate change awareness activists” because very few people actually, you know, “advocate”

    Advocate – To speak, plead, or argue in favor of. An advocate of climate change is someone who argues in favor of the idea. Nothing about that implies that they want it, but rather that they believe it. So I see nothing at all wrong with that.

    And speaking of not putting words in other people’s mouths, I wasn’t there for your encounter but can say that *most* people who say “the science is settled”

    Well that wasn’t part of the encounter. But those who say “the science is settled” use that – as you do above – to shout down the opposition. YOU believe the science is settled. We once believed that ulcers were caused by spicy foods. The science was settled, per your standards. But it wasn’t. Science advanced. But by shouting people down – as people tried to do over Barry Marshall’s discovery that Helicobacter pylori play a key role in ulcer causation – science stops advancing. Marshall went on to win a Nobel Prize for this discovery overturning “settled science.” So now, I would argue that science is not settled. We believe certain things – which may very well be true – but we continue to challenge our assumptions every day. That is how science operates.

    What would you call someone who advocates in-action where they know, or should know if they are honest, that this inaction will be hugely destructive?

    If you are referring to me, I don’t advocate inaction. In fact, I work on alternative energy, and much of my work over the past 20 years has been aimed at reducing our carbon footprint. But I am realistic about the possibility of actually mitigating the rise of CO2. There is a reason that despite Kyoto that Mauna Loa graph looks like it does.

    Then again if you’re not denying 1,2,3 above, be more specific and clear.

    I have been plenty specific and clear – on numerous occasions and again in this specific post. Despite that, you try to justify those labels. People like you who search for reasons to put labels on people are what this article is about. I am defending the right of scientists on the other side to continue to investigate without being subjected to hostility – the kind Marshall got from some colleagues and drug companies who profited from ulcer medications that were being sold under false pretenses. There was scientific consensus on that issue as well. I accepted that scientific consensus, but also the right of Marshall and company to investigate in a non-hostile environment.

    You will see above that I linked to an article showing that 97% of the top climate scientists agree with the IPCC assessment. But I defend the right of the other 3% to continue their studies without someone trying to intimidate them.

    As the above examples show, you too should think about not “putting words into people’s mouths

    Your examples failed to show that I have put words in anyone’s mouth.

    “running out of fossil fuels…will solve our co2″ is a terribly sloppy statement,

    That is a paraphrase of what I actually said. I was talking about Mother Nature solving the problem of peak oil. I said that we just won’t like the way Mother Nature solves some of these problems. Someone asked me about rising CO2 emissions, and I said that I think they will continue to rise as long as we have fossil fuels to burn – that after oil begins to deplete it will be coal, tar sands, etc. Now, if someone followed up with “Might they continue to rise after we run out of fossil fuels?” – then we have a different question; one which you and some others have chosen to answer on my behalf.

    But I don’t expect my words to have any impact on you, Ed. You are the thought police, and arguing with the thought police is not very productive because they believe the issue is so urgent that if you are not just like them they must shout you down.

    RR

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  32. By russ on June 26, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    Maybe it would help if you were more careful in the words you use, and
    then you’d be less misunderstood?

    The world is flat! That was the concensus of 99% of the scientists at a point in time – were they right?

    Anyone who is sure they are 100% right is almost certainly wrong!

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  33. By Wendell Mercantile on June 26, 2010 at 11:52 pm

    I could go to all my neighbors and tell them to tear down their houses and move into a small apartment because that is what the Danes and German do.

    Kit P.

    I lived in Germany 11 years, and never lived in a small apartment. One house was smaller than the house I now live in, the other two were larger. All three were better built than the typical stick-built house one sees in the U.S.. All three had fired tile roofs and masonry walls about 30 cm thick. All three were much better insulated than any U.S. houses I’ve seen. All three had “on-demand” water heaters, which are now just making in-roads in the U.S. All three had triple-glazed windows and something called “rolladen” in he windows I’ve never seen in the U.S. See attached showing how “rolladen” work in what looks like a fairly typical German house with a fairly typical German backyard German Rolladen

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  34. By Wendell Mercantile on June 26, 2010 at 11:57 pm

    But those who say “the science is settled” use that – as you do above – to shout down the opposition.

    Not to shout anyone down, but the science is settled. Most astronomers are fairly confident that in about five billion years (give or take a billion) our Sun will evolve into a red giant and expand out past the orbit of Jupiter. That will be global warming in the extreme. ;-)

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  35. By E. Boyle on June 27, 2010 at 6:03 am

    We will move into an energy efficient German house we are getting built in some months with rolladen, air circulating system, high levels of insulation, triple glazing, solar water heater, with govt. subsidized loan for energy savings and for families. This is my first stab at doing something to change my life according ot PO/GW beliefs and it is just common sense. Instead of being made of brick they use sandstones (large white quarry stone) to make the house much more long lasting than bricks.

    The govt. has standards KFW40, KFW 60, etc.
    Below link has interesting graphic to give idea though in German.

    http://www.energiesparhaus-ene…..-haus.html

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  36. By russ-finley on June 27, 2010 at 11:29 am

    I would not get too bent out of shape Robert but you have done the right thing by taking those commenters to task.

    You are one of the few bloggers who will take commenters to task rather than ignore them. This is part of the attraction, at least to me. Monbiot steps into the fray as well but he gets so many comments it is not possible to read them all let alone respond to them. A blog can be over-commented.

    It was your revelation that we can’t do much about global warming that got me to build a spreadsheet to put the task into perspective and come to the same conclusion, which, although somewhat depressing, does at least reduce my enthusiasm to debate the finer points. I still debate it, but mostly from an academic perspective rather than with much hope of fixing it, although there are always the unknown unknowns and one can therefore always hope.

     

     

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  37. By Hammiesink on June 27, 2010 at 9:33 am

    “Therefore, it is important not to shut debate down and short-circuit the scientific process.”

    And debate has not been shut down. Read the IPCC AR4 and you’ll see lots of debate over how much the sun is involved, how much cosmic rays are involved, they aren’t sure about this, they aren’t sure about that, this and that requires more evidence, etc.

    “They like to say ‘the science is settled and those who disagree are deniers.’”

    From what I can tell, the only people saying this are politicians, environmentalists, or the sensationalist media. You won’t anything like this in the scientific reports.

    And secondly, the label of “denier” is not placed to discredit someone who disagrees. It is placed after someone has displayed the use of certain tactics: cherry-picking of evidence, conspiracy theories, use of fake experts, and moving of the goalposts. In other words, if someone says “more work needs to be done on cosmic rays before we can tell how much influence they have” then they would be engaging in debate. If someone says “the greenhouse effect isn’t real at all because of this one paper I found on the internet” (completely ignoring the THOUSANDS of papers that support the GH effect), they would be labelled a “denier” because they clearly have a pre-conceived notion that they are bending the evidence to support. Or if they link to a survey of 31,000 scientists that disagree, and the survey turns out to be padded with dog catchers and podiatrists and other non climate scientists. Or if they repeat debunked arguments long after being corrected, such as “CO2 lags temperature!”

    THAT is what makes someone a denier. See anti-vaccination, creationism, HIV denial, and other anti-science movements for similar.

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  38. By Wendell Mercantile on June 27, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    Different is interesting but not necessarily better.

    Kit P.

    I’d say it’s more than 50% better. Average energy consumption per capita in Germany is the equivalent of 4.13 tons of oil per person per year. Average in the U.S. is 8.6 t/p/y.

    Having a consumer lifestyle equal to the U.S. while using 50+% less energy doesn’t seem better to you?

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  39. By rrapier on June 27, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    And secondly, the label of “denier” is not placed to discredit someone who disagrees.

    Ah, but it is. That was exactly what this essay is about. That label was placed on me, yet I did none of the things you mentioned.

    THAT is what makes someone a denier. See anti-vaccination, creationism, HIV denial, and other anti-science movements for similar.

    Except that Creationists call themselves Creationists. I am pretty sure they invented the term. Denier is a derogatory term placed on a person who – as I have shown in this essay – shows the slightest hint of not falling exactly into place of where the thought police think they should be. Think “cretinists” or “creationuts” and you get the picture.

    RR

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  40. By Kit P on June 27, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    “I lived in Germany 11 years..”

     

    That is nice Wendell.  I lived in Spain for a year, another country that has rejected nuclear power in favor of burning natural gas.

     

    Different is interesting but not necessarily better.  In any case, Wendell has a bad case of ‘penny wise and pound foolish’.  For example, if you get a million households to save 20% on electricity use doing all the things that Wendell suggests; what would be the results for saving 200 kwh using NG.  

     

    200 kwh x 700 g CO2eq/kwh =  140,000 g CO2eq saved

     

    Okay then what would the savings be if a new nuke replaced a CCGT.

     

    1200 x 700 g CO2eq/kwh =  840,000 g CO2eq produced by the CCGT

     

    1200 x 5 g CO2eq/kwh =  6,000 g CO2eq produced by the nuke 

     

    840,000 – 6,000 g CO2eq = 834,000 g CO2eq saved with a new nuke per family

     

    Of course there is no rule that says we can not conserve and build new nukes.  So how much would we save in the that case. 

     

    200 kwh x 5 g CO2eq/kwh =  3,500 g CO2eq saved

     

    For the record, Germany is currently rethinking its nuclear policy of shutting down existing nukes.  France will be happy to build new nukes and sell the electricity to Germany.  

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  41. By Russ on June 27, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    Here’s one for the scientific consensus and thought police on both sides: CO2 is less a heat trapping cause than a global warming carrier by virtue of its speed of delivery out of tailpipes and smokestacks. This means not much good would come from switching to nuclear energy, in which case H2O would replace CO2 as the new devil. Meanwhile, increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere generally means less O2 required for clear thinking and holding back the psycho-physiological reaction of panic caused by suffocation.

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  42. By Kit P on June 27, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    Wendell, you switched from energy use in the home comparing NG and nukes to make electricity and now you are talking about oil for transportation. 

     

    I certainly do not think German cars are better.

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  43. By Russ Cage on June 27, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    And right here we have a textbook example of why the divide over the issue cannot be bridged.

    Scientists say that we are changing the climate in unwelcome ways and need to cut emissions of GHGs. The denialist camp immediately leaps on this, saying it’s an excuse to lower Americans’ standard of living and tax away more of their work and wealth for do-gooders to distribute to people more worthy. Confronted by intransigence on one side and a rapidly growing problem on the other, policy makers look for ways to compel compliance… exactly what had the denialists up in arms in the first place. Some in the denialist camp actively increase their consumption of things like gasoline, to spite those they see as “the enemy”.

    The problem is that it’s all caught up in a culture war which has nothing to do with the facts. Either camp will twist any policy initiative, no matter how worthwhile, in ways to spite the other side. When you mix in the outright lies like the Stan Lippman comment (concern over AGW goes back to Svante Arrhenius in 1896, and was the subject of non-partisan scientific panels in the 1950′s), it’s a poisonous brew.

    Lost in the opposing artillery barrages are the voices saying that no such choices were necessary. We know how to make buildings which need almost no fuel for heat, little electricity for light, and mostly cool themselves. People have been working at these goals for decades now, and can achieve excellent results for roughly the same cost as conventional construction. But building codes are mired in the 1950′s and contractors want to do things the way they’ve always done them, so nothing happened. If we tried to slash energy consumption all at once today, we WOULD take a hit in our standard of living.

    The same is true about vehicles. Modern-looking plug-in hybrid vehicles go back to amateur projects in the 1970′s. Had we adopted them and pushed the technology by letting the best products get more market share, we’d be using a fraction of the fuel we use today. Doing it all at once means a lot less driving.Those hits that would have been unnecessary had we changed course slowly starting at the oil price shocks, but we cannot go back and reverse our decades-old mistakes.Now we get pain no matter what we do.

    “The moving finger writes, and having writ, moves on:  Nor all your piety nor wit shall lure it back to cancel half a line, nor all thy tears wash out a word of it.”

    The contraction in the auto industry is why I’m not working in it at the moment. The contraction in oil supplies is why I expect my current field to dry up, while autos will get a new lease on life (and issues like sudden acceleration will force autos to adopt design practices such as I use now). This is why I style myself the “Once and Future Car Guy“.

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  44. By Rufus on June 27, 2010 at 11:49 pm

    This is all pretty easy, really. I’m Extremely skeptical about any “Danger” from Manmade Global Warming, however Fossil Fuels ARE finite, and “clean” is better than “dirty.” So,

    Ford took the new Mustang with the sooper-dooper, 3.7 L high performance whoppity-bop engine down to Bristol Speedway, and got 48 MPG on a tankful of gas. GM says its next iteration of the 2.0L DI, Turbo engine will get the same mileage on E85 as on gazzoline.

    California utilities are closing in on 20% Renewable Energy.

    http://cleantechnica.com/2010/…..0-by-2010/

    This is way easier than the coal, and Oil&Gas Companies want you to think it is.

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  45. By paul-n on June 28, 2010 at 1:14 am

    @ Kit P, the German cars certainly are better at using less oil, when they are diesel engined ones.  These all get far better mileage than their gasoline equivalents.  If the US had the same proportion of diesel cars on the road as Germany, there would be a saving of over one million barrels/day – more than what is imported from Saudi Arabia.

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  46. By Rufus on June 28, 2010 at 2:02 am

    Thing is, Paul, everybody can’t drive a diesel. You only get about twelve, or thirteen gallons of diesel from a barrel of oil. Somebody has to use the twenty-two, or so, gallons of gasoline.

    One other thing to keep in mind: As we replace more, and more gasoline with ethanol, and less oil is refined, diesel will, likely, get more expensive.

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  47. By Wendell Mercantile on June 28, 2010 at 9:42 am

    Thing is, Paul, everybody can’t drive a diesel. You only get about twelve, or thirteen gallons of diesel from a barrel of oil.

    Rufus~

    Why do you assume that diesel fuel comes only from petroleum? I would have thought you’d be among the first to mention bio-diesel. Were I Tsar, we’d have a lot more diesel cars on the road, and we’d have a lot more farmers raising sunflowers and rapeseed (canola) to produce the fuel for them.

    Methanol can also be burned in compression ignition engines, not as a pure fuel, but as a substantial portion of the mix. An ideal compression ignition fuel could be a 50/50 mix of canola or sunflower seed oil/methanol.

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  48. By paul-n on June 28, 2010 at 9:47 am

    Rufus, you can tweak the refining to up the diesel production, and, for the record, I was not saying everyone, I said the same proportion (which is about 40%).  

    Presently, the US ends up with a surplus of diesel during the summer months, which is exported, so there is clearly room for improvement there.

    Even though I talk about cars, I think the biggest potential is in pickup trucks (and SUV’s), I grew up with a Nissan diesel on the farm, and I couldn’t believe it when I came to Canada and found you had to get an F-350 to get a diesel.

    As for oil products getting more expensive, I am all for that!

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  49. By Wendell Mercantile on June 28, 2010 at 9:49 am

    Wendell, you switched from energy use in the home comparing NG and nukes to make electricity and now you are talking about oil for transportation…

    Kit P.

    What exactly are you talking about? My comment was about how German energy consumption per capita is more than 50% than ours, and the energy efficiency of German houses. I didn’t say anything about nukes, cars, or the use of NG in Germany. You’re confused.

    But you never did answer the question of what is bad about a country that has a lifestyle equal to (or in some cases higher) than ours, but that consumes less than 50% energy per person.

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  50. By Wendell Mercantile on June 29, 2010 at 12:17 am

    Don’t forget about DME. It can be produced from methanol from coal easily

    Mercy~

    Thank you. You are absolutely correct. DME is the best way to use methanol in compression ignition engines. Coal, NG, or syn-gas —-> Methanol —–> DME.

    For those whose standard complaint about methanol is, “But it’s highly toxic.” DME is your baby. It’s non-toxic, easy to handle, and it’s combustion products are only CO2 and hot water vapor (steam), burning cleaner than either petro-diesel or bio-diesel. DME also has a high cetane rating, which straight methanol does not have, making it suitable for compression ignition.

    I can’t help thinking that the U.S. would have a better handle on our transportation fuels problems had all the tax credits and subsidies we’ve thrown at corn ethanol over the last 30 years gone instead to methanol and DME.

    Methanol is also probably the best way to go for direct fuel cells compared to hydrogen. A liter of methanol actually carries more hydrogen atoms than a liter of cryogenically-cooled liquid hydrogen. Plus methanol is much easier to handle than liquid hydrogen. A methanol distribution infrastructure would cost only pennies or dimes on the dollars we’d have to spend on a hydrogen distribution network.

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  51. By Benny BND Cole on June 28, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    OT-FYI-

    RR has opined recently on methanol-ethanol. MIT says methanol.

    “Natural gas will play a leading role in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions over the next several decades, largely by replacing older, inefficient coal plants with highly efficient combined-cycle gas generation, according to a major new interim report out from MIT.

    In the transportation sector, the study found a somewhat smaller role for natural gas. The use of compressed or liquefied natural gas as a fuel for vehicles could help to displace oil and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but to a limited extent because of the high cost of converting vehicles to use these fuels. By contrast, making methanol, a liquid fuel, out of natural gas requires much less up-front conversion cost and could have an impact on oil usage and thus improve energy security, but would not reduce greenhouse gases.

    The two-year study, managed by the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI), examined the scale of US natural gas reserves and the potential of this fuel to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Based on the work of the multidisciplinary team, with advice from a board of 16 leaders from industry, government and environmental groups, the report examines the future of natural gas through 2050 from the perspectives of technology, economics, politics, national security and the environment.

    The Future of Natural Gas is the third in a series of MIT multidisciplinary reports………………”

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  52. By paul-n on June 28, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    Wendell, you are correct in that methanol cannot be burned as a pure fuel in compression ignition engines, but you can modify such an engine to run on 100% methanol (or ethanol) as a spark ignition engine.  You use port fuel injection for the methanol, and then a spark plug for ignition, or you can keep the diesel fuel injection as your ignition, and use as little as 10% diesel.  50/50 is not necessarily the ideal mix.

    Probably the best configuration is the dual fuel setup, and then you map out which fuel mix is more efficient for which operating conditions.  Diesel would be favoured for idling  (where you can govern by fuel, not air), and perhaps rapid load changes, but for the most part the data seems to favour methanol.  Compare fig 1 and 2 in this report and you’ll see what I mean

    In any case the key thing is the high compression engine.  This could still be run on gasoline, with early intake valve closing, at about 50% stroke, to give you 10:1 compression.  In effect, a 2L high compression engine becomes a 1L std compression.  I don;t know if this reduced power is really worth the effort of making it gasoline compatible.

    As far as I am concerned, the diesel engine is the starting point, from there, almost any fuel except gasoline can be used with diesel like efficiency!

     

     

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  53. By paul-n on June 28, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    Benny, that is not really off topic, but probably more appropriate in the energy independence thread.  Though in reality, we always seem to end up at these same discussions about ethanol!

    In any case, good to see a voice of reason, but that doesn’t mean it will lead to anything soon.

    Funny thing is, we could achieve oil independence, through the use of NG (be it LNG or methanol) for most vehicles.   This would divert large amounts of NG away from electricity production, and result in more coal and nuke electricity plants, but I think that is a worthwhile trade for oil independence, and all the financial political benefits that go with it.

    But, as RR pointed out, all of the last eight presidents have advocated a move away from oil and none have even made a dent in it.  I’m not sure what will be different this time.

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  54. By Rufus on June 28, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    I think Bush made a pretty good dent. We are within a whisker of replacing 10% of our gasoline, and he had us progressing on Biodiesel until Obama’s gang came along and killed the the biodiesel tax credit.

    Anyway, he passed the tax credits for hybrid/elec vehicles, and got the American manufacturers to commit to 50% Flexfuels by 2012.

    Seems to me like he had us “moving right along.”

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  55. By Wendell Mercantile on June 28, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    …progressing on biodiesel until Obama’s gang came along and killed the the biodiesel tax credit.

    Rufus~

    Why does lack of a bio-diesel tax credit mean progress on bio-diesel has to stop? If it’s a good thing and has real potential, shouldn’t farmers and bio-diesel entrepreneurs be pressing ahead anyway? Things that have actual potential don’t need subsidies or tax credits to be successful.

    Where would we be if the Wright Brothers, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford had stopped development, lamenting the lack of tax credits for the airplane, the light bulb, or a mass-produced auto?

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  56. By rrapier on June 28, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    We are within a whisker of replacing 10% of our gasoline…

    No. There is a big difference between blending 10% ethanol in our gasoline and replacing 10% of our gasoline. Replacing should mean that we are using 10% less gasoline as a result of ethanol. But we aren’t. Probably good fodder for a post.

    RR

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  57. By paul-n on June 28, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    And the biodiesel was being exported to Europe, instead of being used locally.  It may have been good business, but the purpose of the tax credit is to displace imported oil, and this was not happening, so they were right to end the tax credit.  

    Didn;t know about the 50% flexfuels – under the current system, sounds like a great way to game the CAFE rules…

     

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  58. By Benny BND Cole on June 28, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Paul-

    Hard to know, but probably we have enough NG in North America for both power plants and cars. The shale gas picture is enormous.
    We can also build out our grid with solar, wind, geothermal, and nukes, thus reducing greenhouse gases if need be.
    As an aside, I work with architects, and the ability to reduce electrical consumption is huge. The new LED bulbs are amazing, and better insulation, design and HVAC systems can save too. The built space of America may use less, not more, power in the years ahead.

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  59. By Wendell Mercantile on June 28, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    The shale gas picture is enormous.

    Enormous, assuming the environmental impacts don’t get in the way and create a knee jerk reaction.

    I watched the premier of a documentary called Gasland on HBO last week. I have no way of knowing how much is embellishment and how much is truth, but the footage of those people living near hydro-frac gas wells who can hold lighters under their faucets and watch their the kitchen sinks explode into flames is sure to attract some attention.

    Gasland ~ The Movie

    Debunking Gasland

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  60. By Rufus on June 28, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    You all understand that CO2 emissions have fallen in the USA for two years, now, right?

    Down 10% from two years ago. Yeah, GDP is down a point, or so; but, not 10%.

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  61. By Mercy Vetsel on June 28, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    RR — Global Warming Crisis promoters are the ones who have jumped the shark.

    You go astray by assuming that accepting the scientific consensus would prevent one from being labeled a denier. This is much more of a political and even religious issue than it is primarily scientific.

    In his Senate testimony in 2001, MIT’s Richard Lindzen ticked off a devastating list of items of scientific consensus that are generally ignored by the true believers. And unlike the climate models of a decade ago, Lindzen’s testimony has withstood the test of time!

    http://www-eaps.mit.edu/facult…..te2001.pdf

    -Mercy

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  62. By Mercy Vetsel on June 28, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    Rufus, Wendell, Paul N,et al:

    Don’t forget about DME. It can be produced from methanol from coal easily, can directly replace LPG (propane) and can be used in diesel (compression) engines with changes to the fuel injector and storage tanks.

    China is developing DME and methanol in general in a big way. While it might seem like Pike Oil and Global Warming are mutually incompatible, huge coal reserves mean that we have at least another century of fossil fuel based transportation available at current usage levels.

    Getting off foreign oil isn’t really a big problem, we’d just have to spend a bit more money on transportation to convert coal into liquids. Getting off fossil fuels will require either a major breakthrough (H2 fuel cells durability and cost, magic battery, cheap biofuel, cheap nuclear CO2 -> liquid fuels) or else we’ll have to spend several times as much on transportation fuel per unit of movement.

    -Mercy

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  63. By Rufus on June 28, 2010 at 10:56 pm

    For a country where oil and coal use have been growing for more than a century, the fall since 2007 is startling. In 2008, oil use dropped 5 percent, coal 1 percent, and carbon emissions by 3 percent. Estimates for 2009, based on U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) data for the first nine months, show oil use down by another 5 percent. Coal is set to fall by 10 percent. Carbon emissions from burning all fossil fuels dropped 9 percent over the two years.

    Beyond the cuts already made, there are further massive reductions in the policy pipeline. Prominent among them are stronger automobile fuel-economy standards, higher appliance efficiency standards, and financial incentives supporting the large-scale development of wind, solar, and geothermal energy. (See data in Excel. )

    http://www.examiner.com/x-9111…..y-Examiner

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  64. By Mercy Vetsel on June 29, 2010 at 3:09 am

    Rufus:

    For a country where oil and coal use have been growing for more than a
    century, the fall since 2007 is startling.

    Okay, 2008 saw the unnerving price spike in oil and 2009 saw GDP drop 7%. I’ll bet you my lunch money that oil and coal usage increased so far in 2010.

    Wendell:
    Also, I highly doubt that oil and coal usage increased during the great depression.

    Wendell:

    Methanol is also probably the best way to go for direct fuel cells compared to hydrogen.

    The problem with methanol fuel cells is that they don’t generate anywhere near the power needed for a car. They are used in low current application like trickle charging forklifts. Methanol could play an important part in an H2 infrastructure although there are several other materials that are in contention as the H transport system of choice. As I’ve said before, methanol is no more toxic than gasoline and you can buy it in the form of Kool-aid blue wiper fluid in plastic gallon jugs at the grocery store.

    The big obstacles to watch with H2 FCV’s are the cost and durability of the fuel cell stacks. Plot current progress out a few years to say 2015 and FCV’s become cost competitive with gasoline even if we assume no improvements in transport technologies and produce H2 at the service station using natural gas or electrolysis.

    Similarly with battery cars the keys are the cost and energy density. Unfortunately, li-ion batteries haven’t improved much over the last 10 years.

    -Mercy

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  65. By Rufus on June 29, 2010 at 8:58 am

    Uh, Mercy, GDP did Not drop by 7% in 2009. We had one quarter when it dropped at a six percent, or so, “annualized” rate. Overall, I guess it dropped a little over 3%.

    The fact that we had a pretty cool summer is, possibly, the most important factor as regards coal and nat gas.

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  66. By Wendell Mercantile on June 29, 2010 at 10:11 am

    The problem with methanol fuel cells is that they don’t generate anywhere near the power needed for a car. They are used in low current application like trickle charging forklifts.

    Agree Mercy, although there is a potential there for a breakthrough. If that happens, methanol direct fuel cells would make much more sense than hydrogen fuel cells, just in ease of handling alone. There’s no question it’s a fertile area at which to direct research grants.

    Methanol has so much potential, it’s a real shame that corn ethanol has been able to garner so much political clout — and the subsidies that go with that clout — over the last three decades. Someday we will look back and wonder why we wasted so much time and so many resources on corn ethanol.

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  67. By Rufus on June 29, 2010 at 11:25 am

    We’re doing 840,000 barrels/day of corn ethanol.

    Corn is selling for 5.8 cents/lb.

    You can buy ethanol from the refinery for $1.40/gal.

    http://news.ncgapremium.com/in…..subtype=25

    The next iteration of the Buick Regal will get the same mileage on ethanol (E85) as on gasoline. This will become the norm in a couple of years.

    Looks to me like we put that time to some pretty good use. :)

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  68. By paul-n on June 29, 2010 at 11:52 am

    I think, in the interests of the country, if corn ethanol is to continue, then all efforts should be made to get the price of corn down to around 3c/lb, and the price of ethanol to about $1/gallon, and the subsidy and mandate removed.

    Maybe then the midwest drivers, and farmers, will start to switch to it en masse.  There is a greater oil saving by having midwest drivers running on E85 than LA drivers running on E10.  

    Trucking ethanol all over the country while the area where it is produced still uses oil, is indeed a waste of time (and oil).

    A sustainable ethanol economy is proven only when an “economy” e.g. the state of Iowa, can largely run itself on ethanol instead of oil.

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  69. By Wendell Mercantile on June 29, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    A sustainable ethanol economy is proven only when an “economy” e.g. the state of Iowa, can largely run itself on ethanol instead of oil.

    Something which even Iowa has yet to prove they can do. They are far from being an ethanol-only economy sustaining themselves with no fossil fuel inputs. Let me know when they start using corn pickers fueled on ethanol (or even on bio-diesel) instead of on petro-diesel. Or when they start using synthetic nitrogen fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides, made from ethanol instead of from natural gas and petroleum.

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  70. By rrapier on June 29, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    Let me know when they start using corn pickers fueled on ethanol (or even on bio-diesel) instead of on petro-diesel.

    If this ever does happen, then you can start to conclude that at least in these locations ethanol is a real alternative to fossil fuel. Because if ethanol can’t outcompete petroleum in Iowa, then it won’t be able to outcompete it anywhere in the U.S. Iowa is probably the best ethanol state, and they don’t produce petroleum. You would expect that all the farmers there would start practicing what they preach and start converting their equipment. Maybe some are? Maybe John Deere is working on it?

    RR

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  71. By Wendell Mercantile on June 29, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    Corn is selling for 5.8 cents/lb. You can buy ethanol from the refinery for $1.40/gal.

    Rufus~

    Even you must be aware there is a correlation between the price of corn and corn ethanol and the price of oil. Corn at 5.6 cents/lb will actually mean something the day corn ethanol producers can at last break their dependence on fossil fuels.

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  72. By paul-n on June 29, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    if ethanol can’t outcompete petroleum in Iowa, then it won’t be able to outcompete it anywhere in the U.S.

    Precisely.  And given all that we hear from RFA, growth energy etc about helping America’s energy independence, they do not even have a plan to demonstrate this on a state, or even a county scale.

    Before implementing Rufus plan of an ethanol plant in every county, we should see if we can run a county (and then a state) primarily on ethanol.  As Rufus reminds us, the technology is here and now, let’s see an implementation of such.

    That would mean retrofitting cars to be flex fuel, if not already.  Running tractors and trucks on biodiesel of co-fuelled with ethanol.  First thing would be to make the corn and ethanol production itself oil independent (we’ll let them use nat gas for fert and distillation, if they want), so that every vehicle movement and production process, relating to corn, or ethanol, in said county, is oil independent.  Then take it to the next step and make all the cars trucks, buses etc in said county run on ethanol (E85 will do)

    I’ll bet that less than 10% of this years VEETC would need to be fund such an effort, and would probably be of more real value than the remaining 90%.

    Then we could really see if the ethanol economy works, and is worth pursuing, or not.

     

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  73. By Wendell Mercantile on June 29, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    Then we could really see if the ethanol economy works, and is worth pursuing, or not.

    Paul N~

    I like your proposal except for letting them use NG for fertilizer and distilling. To prove an ethanol economy really works, they would also have to use some of their ethanol output to supply the energy for plant growth and distillation.

    As it now stands, take away all fossil fuel energy inputs, and corn ethanol would quickly grind to a halt.

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  74. By paul-n on June 29, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    Wendell, you are correct, but the idea here is to replace oil, not all fossil fuels.  Take away all fossil fuels, and the entire economy grinds to halt.  Getting to “fossil fuel independence” is a much greater challenge, and I don;t think we should be forcing ethanol to do this when we are not requiring the same of any other industries.

    NG is used as in input into all sorts of processes and heating uses.  It is probably a higher value use for NG to make fertiliser and distill ethanol  than for running a home furnace.

    If the price of an ethanol instead of oil economy is more NG, that is still a major step forward, and does prove “energy independence”. 

    WE can, of course, then go to work on minimising NG usage, but I think we can agree that oil usage eduction is the first and most important objective.

     

     

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  75. By Rufus on June 29, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    California will be at 20% “Renewable” electricity in 2013. Everyone accepts that as being a “good thing.” No one says that all Solar Panels have to be made with electricity, and feedstocks derived from “Solar” sources. That would be silly. Same for Wind Energy. Same for Geothermal and Hydroelectric. No one says that Oil Refineries must operate on electricity from oil-fired power plants, or that they can’t use nat gas in powering the plant.

    Why would you have a different test for ethanol?

    We’re getting close to 10% by volume, and with the new engines coming online, we’ll soon be able to extract the same mileage from ethanol as from gasoline. How could That not be the “bottom line?”

    It feels like the anti-ethanol folks don’t have anything left but strawmen, and red herrings. It feels kinda like “Victory.” :)

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  76. By rrapier on June 29, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    Rufus said:

    No one says that Oil Refineries must operate on electricity from oil-fired power plants, or that they can’t use nat gas in powering the plant.


     

    But what you do is them producing a lot of their own energy for running their processes. Fuel gas, a byproduct of the refining process, generally provides a large fraction of a refinery’s energy.

    RR

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  77. By Wendell Mercantile on June 30, 2010 at 12:02 am

    Why would you have a different test for ethanol?

    Rufus~

    Because the corn ethanol faction thinks we can have a sustainable, corn ethanol economy. By definition, an ethanol economy would use the energy in ethanol to sustain itself.

    And if corn ethanol really has an EROEI of 2.3 to 1 as the latest USDA report claims, it should be possible. With that kind of return, using ethanol to make more ethanol would grow the amount of ethanol exponentially.

    Here’s an example of how that might work:

    Example:
    2011 ~ Invest 100 units of energy, get back 230 units of energy.
    2012 ~ Sell 100 units, reinvest the other 130, get back ~300 units.
    2013 ~ Sell 150 units, reinvest the other 150 units, get back 345 units.
    2014 ~ Sell 175 units, reinvest the other 170 units, get back 391 units.
    2015 ~ Sell 200 units, reinvest the other 191 units, get back 493 units, ad infinitum until we have ethanol flowing out our ears.

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  78. By Rufus on June 30, 2010 at 12:57 am

    Corn Plus gets about half of its process energy from burning its syrup. Chippewa Valley, and Poet Chancellors get about the same from corn cobs and wood waste. Poet’s Project Liberty will get All of its energy from lignin, and have about 4 times that amount to devote to the “kernel” part of the operation. You can’t stay trapped in the past.

    Wendell, I wouldn’t expect something that silly from a second grader.

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  79. By paul-n on June 30, 2010 at 1:36 am

    Rufus, leaving aside the issue of where the distillation energy comes from (as there are many sources for that), do you agree that a good test for the ethanol economy is to completely displace all fuel oil/gasoline usage?

    This would prove the scalability of ethanol as a fuel.

    Even to just displace all gasoline (leaving diesel out of it) would be a major step forward, but is there anywhere (in the US) that is even close to this, or trying for it?

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  80. By Rufus on June 30, 2010 at 1:58 am

    It’s going to be a slow process, Paul. Or, at least, not a terribly fast one. We have to work within the infrastructure as it exists, and slowly build out what has to be built out. For example, only about 3% of the cars on the road can use higher ethanol blends; and, at least half of those people don’t even know their vehicles are ethanol capable (the carmakers only started “badging” their flexfuels in the last couple of years.)

    About 12% of the cars built this year will be flexfuel, and about 25% in 2010 (that’s 50% of the cars/trucks from GM, Ford, and Chrysler, but only a couple of models from the Japanese.)

    Now, as you go through this you have to get E85 pumps. It can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $100,000 for a station to install E85 capability. Everybody that owns a station isn’t going to run out and install one, Tomorrow.

    As you go along you have to add more production, and expand the distribution capability. These are all individual actions taken by entrepreneurs at their own behest. It will All be driven by the price of gasoline. Nothing more, nothing less.

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  81. By Wendell Mercantile on June 30, 2010 at 9:51 am

    Rufus~

    Not silly at all. If corn ethanol production produces a 2.3 to 1 return on energy invested, the amount of ethanol in the system should increase exponentially, by simply reinvesting some of that energy. It’s like the “grain of wheat on a chessboard” problem, where a king asks a peasant who saved his daughter’s life what reward he would like.

    The peasant said, “Sire, my needs are simple. Put on grain of wheat on the first square of a chessboard, two grains of wheat on the second square, four on the third square, and so forth, doubling the amount of grain that goes on each successive square. That is all I want, and that would make me happy.”

    The king exclaims, “You saved my daughter’s life, and that’s all you want?” and hauls out a chessboard and starts piling wheat on it. Of course the king quickly finds there is not enough wheat in his entire kingdom to get to square 64.

    That’s the power of an exponential function, and if corn ethanol really returns energy at a ratio of 2.3 to 1, the ethanol business should be taking advantage of that.

    Either the corn ethanol industry is blind to what exponential growth means, or making corn ethanol actually doesn’t return the amount of energy the latest USDA report says.

    Which do you think it is?

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  82. By Rufus on June 30, 2010 at 11:52 am

    Wendell, don’t be childish. That’s for the oil drum. EROEI is a very small part of any energy equation. If eroei was all that important there would be only one energy source in the world – the one with the lowest “eroei.”

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  83. By rrapier on June 30, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    EROEI is a very small part of any energy equation.

    There are two aspects of EROEI that must be used with caution. First is to make sure you are talking about fungible energy types. The EROEI of turning coal into liquid fuel might not be good, but coal is cheap and not fungible with liquid fuels.

    Second is a more often overlooked aspect that I have been thinking a lot about lately (I have seen a draft of a paper discussing this). There is no time element in EROEI. Because of that, an EROEI of 1.1 could be superior to an EROEI of 5 if the former delivers that EROEI every second and the latter delivers it annually.

    RR

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  84. By Rufus on June 30, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    There is no time element in EROEI. Because of that, an EROEI of 1.1 could be superior to an EROEI of 5 if the former delivers that EROEI every second and the latter delivers it annually.

    And, THAT, of course, is a very important part of the Corn ethanol/Cane ethanol debate.

    The biggest weakness of ALL economic theories is “TIME.” I can draw up a very elegant model showing that it doesn’t matter if you buy energy from your next door neighbor, or from the King of Saudi Arabia. The problem is: it will take, maybe, 50 years, or 100, for my model to work. This might be fine for “Academia,” but, basically, useless in the Real World.

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  85. By Wendell Mercantile on June 30, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    Great point about fungibility RR. Corn ethanol gets its positive EROEI only by considering the energy embedded in the co-products which consist mostly of something that looks liked overcooked oatmeal farmers can use to supplement livestock rations.

    Of course the energy embedded in that distiller’s grain has some value, but it is not fungible with the energy an ethanol plant needs to run, or liquid motor fuels.

    Here’s a suggestion for RFA’s Bob Dinneen and Growth Energy’s Wes Clark: At the next big get-together of the corn ethanol nabobs and high muck-a-mucks, why not serve cupcakes and muffins made from distiller’s grains at the reception and during breaks?

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  86. By paul-n on June 30, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    Actually, why not just serve the ethanol itself – it might result in them having some new ideas.  

    The time element is a good one, to which we could add another – land – there is only so much land for growing corn, or anything else.

    Or, to use the economic definition of land, we all material inputs e.g. water, fertiliser, etc.  Either way, exponential growth eventually will hit a boundary with land.  This may or may not happen before it hits the boundary of acceptable timeframe.

    The time factor is the main advantage to algae as a biofuel, as it is not (really) seasonal, but, it’s many other disadvantages outweigh this.

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  87. By Rufus on June 30, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    Why would you do that, Wendell. Field Corn is cattle feed. Always has been. DDGS are cattle feed. Processed field corn. You’re more confused than normal, today.

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  88. By Rufus on June 30, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    Paul, I believe the last number I saw for land “taken out of service” was something like 1.7 Billion Acres, worldwide. This is land that is no longer needed due to extremely high growth in yields. (an example of this would be how we’re feeding about the same number of cattle as we were 20 years ago, on the same number of acres, and providing transportation fuel for almost 20 Million cars at the same time.)

    Let’s look at the U.S. We are row-cropping about 150 Million acres less than we were 100 years ago. We’ve mostly let that land return to “pasture,” weeds, brush, etc. If we reduce our fuel/mile by 40%, and achieved 500 gal/acre from the discarded land, and added that to the 15 Bgpy from Corn, and the 10 Bgpy from MSW, we would be at 90 Bgpy – 75 Bgpy – 15 Bgpy – 10 Bgpy, or we’d have 10 Bgpy for export, or to apply to our Commercial Trucking Sector.

    On a “world-wide” note: 1.7 Billion acres at, say, 400 gal/acre would be 680 Billion Gallons/Yr.

    Now, this is all Extremely Simplistic, for sure; and we will, definitely, use some electricity, rail, etc. We’re looking, here, at adapting in the short, to medium, term. None of us are smart enough to know what transportation is going to look like in 50 years, much less 100.

    The Doomers at the Drum are just little kids sitting around scaring each other with ghost stories.

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  89. By Wendell Mercantile on June 30, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    Rufus~

    Just think of the publicity coup if Bob Dinneen and Wes Clark were to serve muffins made from distiller’s grains at the next big ethanol conference. Perhaps Bob and Wes should hire me as a marketing and media consultant. ;-)
    _____
    Who knows? Maybe there’s even a breakfast cereal made of distiller’s grain in the future for the corn ethanol industry. What would we call it? Any ideas?

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  90. By Rufus on June 30, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    You’re running about 10 years behind, Wendell. They’ve been making “muffins” and whatnot out of distillers grains as long as there’s been distillers grains.

    “Lifeline” in KC, Mo makes human edible products from ddgs, I think.

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  91. By savro on June 30, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    Wendell Mercantile said:

    Who knows? Maybe there’s even a breakfast cereal made of distiller’s grain in the future for the corn ethanol industry. What would we call it? Any ideas?


     

    How about Rufies? Cool

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  92. By Wendell Mercantile on June 30, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    “Lifeline” in KC, Mo makes human edible products from ddgs, I think.

    Rufus~

    Then they need to do a better job of getting the word out there. Even good products don’t sell themselves. Have you tried them Rufus? I think every county should have a distiller’s grain bakery or Co-op.

    Field Corn is cattle feed. Always has been.

    Not always. The roasted corn Mexican street vendors sell is field corn, and not what we call sweet corn.

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  93. By Thomas on June 30, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    Rufus I think on an old forum you said you were from Tunica, MS. My family is from Byhalia. Small world.

    “It feels kinda like “Victory.” That was pretty funny. Remeber 800,000 people are driving around on E85. Many more are driving hybrids.

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  94. By Rufus on June 30, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    Yeah, Thomas, Hybrids will play a part. Maybe a Big part. I’m not so sure about straight electric vehicles.

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  95. By Rufus on June 30, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    This is important. Salt Tolerant Switchgrass, Sorghum, etc.

    http://domesticfuel.com/2010/0…..ergy-crop/

    We have also overcome “aluminum” toxicity in many of these energy crops. I believe the “story” of the first half of the 21st Century will be “Biology,” especially gene splicing, gene stacking, DNA tracking, etc.

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  96. By Wendell Mercantile on June 30, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    I’m not so sure about straight electric vehicles.

    Probably not in Tunica, but they will be ideal for people living in cities as “city car” or a “city runabout.”

    Actually, there will come a day when many people have two cars: One (probably electric) for day-to-day, short-range operations — going to and from work, going the grocery store, going out to dinner, etc. A second, liquid-fueled, long-range car for weekend use, vacations, and those long trips when you can’t count on the electric. The long-range, liquid-fueled car might sit in the garage for weeks on end without be driven. People also might pool resources and buy a long-range car to be shared, much as people now do with light airplanes. Most of the light airplanes you see at your local airport have shared owners.

    It’s the new paradigm Rufus. Don’t get left at the station.

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  97. By Rufus on June 30, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Well, maybe, Wendell, but what do you do when you have a ten year old car that needs a new battery?

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  98. By Wendell Mercantile on June 30, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    What do you do when you have a ten-year old car that needs new tires, a valve job, or a new exhaust system? You replace the parts; or trade in the car for a new one, and let someone else worry about the repairs.* Why would it be any different for an electric car with a battery? (Actually, it might be different. Some car makers are thinking of having customers buy the cars, but lease the batteries. That way consumers can upgrade their batteries as technology advances, or simply exchange the battery as it nears its cycle life.)
    _____
    * Aren’t you the proponent of buying used and letting some other sucker absorb the depreciation losses?

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  99. By Rufus on June 30, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    It looks to me like a Battery Vehicle is a “drive till the battery runs out” vehicle. It’s just hard to see anyone putting a $15,000.00 battery in a $2,000.00 Car.

    So, now cars have an expected life-span on 10 years. What does this do to the people that have, traditionally, bought the older cars? I just gotta wonder.

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  100. By savro on June 30, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    Wendell Mercantile said:

    I’m not so sure about straight electric vehicles.

    Probably not in Tunica, but they will be ideal for people living in cities as “city car” or a “city runabout.”

    Actually, there will come a day when many people have two cars: One (probably electric) for day-to-day, short-range operations — going to and from work, going the grocery store, going out to dinner, etc. A second, liquid-fueled, long-range car for weekend use, vacations, and those long trips when you can’t count on the electric. The long-range, liquid-fueled car might sit in the garage for weeks on end without be driven. People also might pool resources and buy a long-range car to be shared, much as people now do with light airplanes. Most of the light airplanes you see at your local airport have shared owners.

    It’s the new paradigm Rufus. Don’t get left at the station.


     

    Interesting concept, Wendell.

    However, I don’t think that most people will be able to afford or have the need for a second [longer range] car. I don’t really consider the shared option to be realistic, since the need for the longer range vehicle will usually be at the same time for all those in the pool (weekends, holidays, summer etc.).

    What I think we’re more likely to see if a large-scale changeover to an electric fleet becomes a reality (at least until the range problem is solved), is a huge shot in the arm for the rental car industry.

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  101. By thomas on June 30, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    Agreed Samuel. Rental cars make a lot of sense for city drivers who take a couple trips out of town a year. Before the recession, many people were buying Trucks and SUVs because they occasionaly went fishing,camping, biking etc.  Unless you are doing those types of activities almost every weekend or your daily commute is very short, renting saves you money.

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  102. By Rufus on June 30, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    So, who buys the 8 – 10 year old car with the Dead/nearly dead battery?

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  103. By thomas on June 30, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    Nissan claims that in 10 years the Leaf’s battery will be at ~70-80
    capacity under normal use.   We’ll see. One sure thing is that these early adopters
    won’t be driving them by then. Walk on any car lot and ask the salesman to show you all the cars he has that are ten years old.  He’lll laugh Carmax.com won’t let me search for a car made before 2000.  There are 148 cars made between 2000-2002 for sale within a 500 mile radius of Los Angeles.  In other words, the market the 8-10 year old used car market is negligible.  EVs will be no different.   The batteries will end up recycled.

    You have talked about how most of the cars on the road are new cars and how this helps ethanol.  Gasoline hybrids are selling at twice the rate of the total car market despite  being more expensive.  New car sales benefit hybrids even more. 

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  104. By Wendell Mercantile on July 1, 2010 at 12:19 am

    Walk on any car lot and ask the salesman to show you all the cars he has that are ten years old.

    That may be true most of the time, but there are exceptions. I had a 1984 diesel Mercedes I drove for 21 years and 350,000+ miles. Even when it was 15 years old, I still had strangers come up to me asking if wanted to sell it.

    I don’t really consider the shared option to be realistic, since the need for the longer range vehicle will usually be at the same time for all those in the pool (weekends, holidays, summer etc.).

    Samuel,

    Perhaps, but it does work for airplane aero clubs. Perhaps the solution is for several people to share ownership of several cars as in an aero club. In the aero club I’m familiar with, there is never a problem getting an airplane to take out for a weekend trip.

    Of course, renting is also a workable option, and might gain wider acceptance. You wouldn’t have to put up with permanent part ownership, and could also rent what you need. Going out for the weekend to help one of your kids move, you might rent a van. Going with the wife to the mountains, you might rent a sport coupe.

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  105. By Wendell Mercantile on July 1, 2010 at 12:27 am

    So, who buys the 8 – 10 year old car with the Dead/nearly dead battery?

    Sounds like just the ticket for you Rufus. You say you don’t drive that much, and someone else will have already eaten all the depreciation. You’d probably get it for next to nothing. And who knows, if you find a long enough extension cord, you wouldn’t even need that old battery that no longer holds a charge. :-)

    But seriously, even a nearly dead 8-10 year old battery will be quite valuable. Lithium is a strategic material. There will be a big business recycling the old ones to recover and reuse the lithium, and you might be able to trade in your old one and get a new one for less than you think. Sort of like taking your empty Blue Rhino propane tanks to trade for full ones.

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  106. By Rufus on July 1, 2010 at 1:12 am

    Well, we’ll see. As I said before, I couldn’t see myself owning one, but I’m not agin someone else “going electric.” Best of luck to’em. :)

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  107. By paul-n on July 1, 2010 at 2:10 am

    I suspect the development of the electrics will be such that when the first gen ones are ten years old, they are so obsolete that it is absolutely not worth re-powering.   

    The only thing that would change that is if the battery cost becomes $5k instead of $15k, but I don’t think that is likely.

    I do think the Zipcars and the like will do well out of electric cars – it will improve the attractiveness of both their electric and larger ICE vehicles.  The electrics are to expensive to own, and the ICE’s too expensive to drive all the time.   For people who can get by without a car every day, getting them from zipcar when they need them will make a lot of sense.  When I lived in central London, most people operated like that, and that was before zipcar was around.

    It does seem that a flex fuel (or diesel) PHEV is the best of all worlds, but might just be too expensive.  For people looking to spend the least $/mile, for both fuel and ownership, the subcompacts like the Hyundai and so on, at around $10k and 40+mpg, are hard to beat, until gasoline goes above $5/gal.

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  108. By Jon on July 1, 2010 at 9:11 am

    Uh, McCarthy was actually largely right about the presence of communists within the federal government, and guess what? He was labeled, and became the label, by much the same folks, libs. And you just used that label.

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  109. By takchess on July 1, 2010 at 10:06 am

    I’m looking forward to a new topic.

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  110. By rrapier on July 1, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    takchess said:

    I’m looking forward to a new topic.


     

    Working on two; just have family visiting right now and it has been hard to finish them. Soon, because I agree with you. I am ready for a new topic as well.

    RR

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  111. By thomas on July 1, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    Recycling old hybrid/EV batteries will be the highest margin business in the whole green car sector.  In fact they’ll be the only ones turning a profit in 5-10 years on any of this.

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  112. By Hengist McStone on October 10, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    Hi Robert, could you support the statement you put in inverted commas “the science is settled and those who disagree are deniers.” Who actually is saying that please ? Actually Richard Lindzen told the BBC he prefers the term denier to being called a skeptic. It looks to me that you are misrepresenting the argument by getting on to the denier/skeptic trope. A skeptic approaches an issue with an open mind, a skeptic is careful to not pretend to know something that he doesn’t know. There are an awful lot of blogs out there which simply make assertions about climate science and climate scientists that are not true. That isn’t skepticism. And then there are a lot of blogs by advocates positioned as skeptics that will lend credence to the former. There is the world of difference between doubting something and denying it, advocates positioned as skeptics taking offence at a word are loading the language. McCarthyism indeed.

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  113. By rrapier on October 10, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    Hi Robert, could you support the statement you put in inverted commas “the science is settled and those who disagree are deniers.” Who actually is saying that please ?

    Joe Romm, for example. I have seen it happen to lots of people. I have had it happen to me on numerous occasions for simply reporting on the debate itself — and I am certainly not one of those making assertions about climate change. There are those among the climate change camp that attempt to bully/intimidate those who would raise questions about the science of climate change.

    RR

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  114. By Hengist McStone on October 10, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    I’m familiar with the work of Joe Romm. I certainly don’t recall him saying that, and you aren’t providing a link. So we are in the dark as to whether you are saying this is a direct quote or a precis. You are over-simplifying the arguments of those that are distinguishing between honest skepticism and untrue assertions. Nobody is being intimidated not to debate the issues, but this faux offence at a simple word is loading the language.

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  115. By rrapier on October 10, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    Hengist McStone said:

    I’m familiar with the work of Joe Romm. I certainly don’t recall him saying that, and you aren’t providing a link. So we are in the dark as to whether you are saying this is a direct quote or a precis. You are over-simplifying the arguments of those that are distinguishing between honest skepticism and untrue assertions. Nobody is being intimidated not to debate the issues, but this faux offence at a simple word is loading the language.


     

    I actually provided (personal) examples in the essay.

    The term denier is loaded language to begin with, and it has been used against serious scientists. Look at how Joe Romm responds to Roger Pielke, a professor of environmental studies at UC-Boulder. That’s no way to conduct a debate, and is an example (besides the ones I provided in the article) of the bullying and intimidation that goes on here.

    RR

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