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By Robert Rapier on Dec 4, 2015 with 32 responses

Where The Carbon Emissions Are


With world leaders meeting in Paris this week and next to formulate plans for tackling carbon emissions, I believe it’s critical to understand the source of those emissions. After all, if you are going to solve a problem, you better make sure you have a good understanding of the problem. Otherwise, as the great philosopher Yogi Berra might say, your solution to the problem won’t necessarily solve the problem.

In today’s column, I want to cover three items. First is the present and past geographical breakdown of carbon dioxide emissions. Second is the breakdown by type of fossil fuel. Third is the breakdown of potential future emissions given the world’s current oil, gas, and coal resources.

The Current Geographical Emissions Profile

In my previous article, I showed that the world’s carbon dioxide emissions had historically come from the world’s developed countries (as defined by membership in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), but since 2005 emissions in developing countries have outstripped those in developed countries. Of the 35.5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emitted in 2014, developing countries were responsible for 21.7 billion tons — 61% of the total:

Global CO2 OECD

Developing countries have seen their carbon dioxide emissions rise by 92% since 2000, and they now emit 58% more carbon dioxide than developed countries. In fact, the discrepancy is probably even greater, as China recently admitted that they have been underestimating the amount of coal they consume.

China was the world’s leading emitter in 2014 with 27.5% of the world’s total carbon dioxide emissions. The U.S. was second with 16.9% of the world’s total, and India was a distant third with 5.9% of the world’s total. However, India’s emissions have grown at a faster rate over the past 5 years than the U.S. and China’s combined.

Legacy Emissions

Of course most of the carbon dioxide that has been dumped into the atmosphere since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution belongs to the developed countries. The BP Statistical Review of World Energy tabulates carbon dioxide emissions data back to 1965. Between 1965 and 2000, developed countries emitted 433 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, which at that time was 60% of the total since 1965. But developing countries have been catching up. As of 2014 the total for developed countries had risen to 619 billion metric tons, but that had fallen to 54% of the total since 1965 because of the rapid emission growth in the developing world.

Emissions And Potential Emissions By Fossil Fuel Source

Here is the breakdown of emissions by fossil fuel source, which I calculated from consumption numbers in the 2015 BP Statistical Review. Of the carbon dioxide emissions in 2014, 20.3% were from natural gas, 36.4% were from oil, and 43.3% from coal.

At the end of 2014, the world’s proved fossil fuel reserves consisted of 1.7 trillion barrels of oil, 6.6 quadrillion cubic feet of natural gas, and 891 billion metric tons of coal. Should we burn through those reserves, I calculate that it would produce an additional 2.8 trillion metric tons of carbon dioxide. To put that into perspective, the total amount of fossil fuel-derived carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere since 1965 is estimated to be 1.1 trillion metric tons. So the current proved reserves have the potential to emit nearly 3 times the amount of carbon dioxide as was emitted in the past 50 years. The breakdown of those potential emissions is 14% from natural gas, 25% from oil, and 61% from coal.

If we want to consider the entire fossil fuel resource (remember, proved reserves are a function of price and available technology and vastly understate the amount of fossil fuel in place), a 2012 paper by Neil C. Swart and Andrew J. Weaver from the University of Victoria is instructive. That paper shows the relative potential warming contributions of various fossil fuel resources.


Source: Neil C. Swart and Andrew J. Weaver, Nature Climate Change, 2, 2012

The warming potential estimates are based on modeling, so these are projections of what could happen. But it illustrates that the potential carbon dioxide contribution from coal dwarfs that of every other resource.


As we seek to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, it seems to me that curtailing coal consumption in developing countries should be the highest priority. That doesn’t mean it’s the only thing we should work on, but we should recognize that this is the single biggest current and projected future contributor to carbon dioxide emissions. In order to address the developing world’s coal consumption, it seems that the biggest priority should be in developing affordable, convenient alternatives with a low carbon footprint. Per capita demand in these countries is already very low, but is projected to grow as these countries continue to develop. So it seems to me that the supply side needs the greatest focus.

But we have to keep in mind that these countries are only going to use alternatives if they have a compelling reason to do so. Many have already indicated that they won’t restrict their development in order to utilize alternatives. This is definitely a variation of a tragedy of the commons scenario, but we have to recognize that this is how countries will behave. In order to mitigate that, they have to view alternatives to coal as “better”, and by that I mean that it is something that consumers will opt for over coal. Otherwise, the world will do a lot of hand-wringing, but we will continue to burn up all of our fossil fuel reserves.

Link to Original Article: Where The Carbon Emissions Are

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  1. By Craig Teller on December 5, 2015 at 12:20 am

    There’s useful information and points made in this article. I appreciate it. But there are energy and fossil fuel issues that need more context to understand them in terms of reducing CO2.

    While it is still useful to compare OECD countries to non-OECD, some caveats should be attached:

    1) Can we still consider China to be a developing country? It’s recent decision and commitment to invest heavily in alternative energy while reducing the use of coal sounds more like a developed nation committed to reducing CO2.

    2) There are many American companies who have some of their manufacturing done in China. Should that currently count as OECD/developed nation or Non-OECD/developing nation? (The same question about American companies can be asked of non-OECD countries such as India).

    3) In some ways, Russia is behaving like a developing nation (particularly some with oil), but it has considerably more wealth (and more military) than many OECD countries. There is also the odd issue that Russia under Putin refuses to diversify its economy, narrowing the scope of its choices and, on the other side, making global decisions where Russia is affected more difficult.

    4) There are other issues: How useful are fossil fuels for chemical stocks? As a practical exercise to illustrate the issue, is there any situation where it would it be smart for a small fossil country or maybe a family with a small oil company to hang on to oil for decades in the future for the sake of chemical stocks?

    5) Peat is largely useless for developed countries. However, how useful are peat stocks to developing nations that possess significant quantities of peat that can be burned to turn a turbine? (A side issue: will some nations use peat fires for economic ransom? “Help us or we let the fires burn.”

    6) I suspect some non-OECD countries are simply looking for bargaining room. That works both ways. Finding ways to bring water to the Middle East may be cheap in the long run, particularly if renewed agriculture and groves lock up signifcant CO2.

    • By Russ Finley on December 6, 2015 at 8:37 pm

      Good points.

      Can we still consider China to be a developing country? It’s recent
      decision and commitment to invest heavily in alternative energy while
      reducing the use of coal sounds more like a developed nation committed
      to reducing CO2.

      Is nuclear considered an alternative energy?

      …particularly if renewed agriculture and groves lock up signifcant CO2

      I don’t think agriculture acts as a carbon sink.

      • By Craig Teller on December 7, 2015 at 5:43 pm

        Although I’m not a big fan of nuclear, I tried looking into nuclear a couple of years ago. There are really two current issues.

        First, should current nuclear reactors be kept running? The answer is yes. Let them finish their lifetime cycle.

        Second, should more nuclear reactors be built? That’s a more difficult question to answer. It’s very easy to get gee whiz promotional material on nuclear. But if you have straightforward questions to ask, it’s not all that easy to get answers. I assume legislatures, banks and utilities get answers to their questions but it’s not easy to find material from that angle. I come across material about new types of reactors but that too is mostly promotional material.

        Nuclear has some interesting problems. First, the high quality Ph’Ds just don’t go into fission research these days, though some are still interested in fusion (well, that’s fine, but we can’t wait fifty years). Second, nuclear is still expensive; if my sources are right, there are issues around how much and how long nuclear reactors last at full energy production. Third, nuclear advocates complain about regulation which doesn’t have much bearing on the future of nuclear and amounts to an excuse. Fourth, nuclear advocates I guess have access to important people and I suppose credibility with them, but they are unable to recognize the low credibility they have with the general public. It’s odd that little effort is made in this area. Fifth, when real issues are raised, advocates claim new generation reactors are solving the problem and the discussion ends, though none of these reactors seem to be in the U.S. (More problems exist, but enough.)

        Here’s what’s going to happen: if nuclear can truly lick its problems with new generation reactors, it’s going to happen in some place like India, China or even possibly Canada before the U.S. adopts it.

        • By RodT on December 7, 2015 at 9:07 pm

          I have been told by a credible source that a reactor has to draw power for many years after it’s been decommisioned. That undermines the emissions benefits of nuclear.
          Perhaps a more knowledgable reader can comment.

          • By Russ Finley on December 7, 2015 at 11:42 pm

            … a simple Google search would answer that for you.

            • By Forrest on December 8, 2015 at 6:07 am

              Given the incredible long and actual safety and environmental record of nuclear, those whom have a fear of global warming should embrace the power. Why do Environmentalist attack fuel choice and focus on the fuel instead of the emissions? Isn’t CO2 emission what drive GW, not nuclear fuel, or wind energy. They should concern themselves with power supply lowering its CO2 emissions. Why do they insist on micro managing? You see, as suspected, they really are more interested in the solution than the problem. Another way to explain, they’re looking for a problem for their wonderful solution. Even before GW science the Mother Jones folks were touting solar and wind to make life effortless and support minimal income living. It was a blissful natural lifestyle per reading stories of well being, gardening, and diy Mother Earth homes. That’s the dream. It was like a coke drug addiction to a generation that never lost the desire.

              Given what nuclear has accomplished already, isn’t sensible to upgrade and expand the nuclear fleet with best in class nuclear power? The industry has a proven track record. Their is little risk. We learn how to make power cheaper and safer. I read the Obama Administration is actually embracing nuclear. Can this be true? That he developed a backbone?

              The AP1000 PWR nuclear reactor is a SMR class with a design that should improve safety by wide margin and keep investment costs down. The 225 MWe power plant is comparable to 60,000 acres of wind energy and 2,400 acres solar power. So, the life cycle analysis of comparing the power must be through the roof advantage for nuclear. Given the low cost grid and accessibility to high density high demand markets. GW doomsayers make no sense, if they dis nuclear. What the heck? This tells me they don’t really believe the science of GW, just want the solution.

            • By Craig Teller on December 9, 2015 at 4:14 am

              In many areas of the world, crops or cattle are combined with wind farms with no loss of production. The number of acres needed per wind turbine is also falling because of increased efficiency and size.

              Nuclear will probably make a comeback in 20 years or so. Keep in mind that one of the most prominent climatologists, James Hansen, advocates nuclear.

              One of the biggest problems of nuclear is indeed political but one that can’t be ignored. Politicians all over the world are reluctant to build nuclear in 3rd world countries. The collapse of the Soviet Union is one factor because of the number of nuclear facilities that were left behind with poor supervision. The other issue is the rising numbers of failed states.

              When India or China or perhaps even Canada show that the new nuclear reactors can solve a range of issues, then nuclear will be back. The biggest growth potential for new energy in the world is in undeveloped countries. But they need energy that is scalable, reliable and easy to use. That’s clearly an advantage of solar and wind. Users don’t even have to worry about some local war blocking fuel trucks that need to travel two to four hundred miles (though wind turbines do need maintenance now and then). Here’s another issue: one of several reasons that Enron collapsed was a 1 gigawatt power plant they started building in India. There was no way the local area could use that much power, so it amounted to an expensive boondoggle the Indians refused to pay for.

            • By T-Wizzle on December 25, 2015 at 4:26 pm

              “The number of acres needed per wind turbine is also falling because of increased efficiency and size.”

              A small point of order. There is a minimum distance between turbines on a wind farm. I believe that all things being equal it is 5 times the length of the turbine. Larger turbines only mean fewer turbines not smaller farms.

            • By T-Wizzle on December 25, 2015 at 4:47 pm

              I’m in favor of nuclear power but most people/politicians who say they are not. You are not pro-nuke unless you can say yes to at least one of the following three questions:

              1. Are you willing to live within 20 mi of a nuclear power plant?

              2. Are you willing to live within 20 mi of a nuclear waste storage facility?

              3. Are you willing to have nuclear waste transported within 20 mi of your home?

              In fact if you replaced nuclear in the above question with “hydraulic fracturing” most people will be negative. We all like to live in a world where we don’t have to think about where our power comes from or deal with the consequences thereof. Case in point, Rex Tillerson’s NIMBY response to fracking.


            • By Forrest on December 26, 2015 at 7:32 am

              Items 1,2, and 3 not a problem for South West Michigan residents. Most of my adult life within that zone. Bridgman, MI enjoyed very high tax revenue for decades per the nuclear plant. Chicago money invested in 2rd homes close to the lake. per tax benefits. The negative being a political Judge in the hunt upon popularity ruled with anti-nuclear to install WWII London system of sirens to warn of nuclear danger. They blast these once a month to test and award fear mongering points to the left. It is a joke and like most of the activist strategy to bankrupt nuclear by regulating them to death spiral, has no real world merit. It’s just business as usual of politicians and Judges to demagogue biases of public. Thank you Jane Fonda. It’s is funny that this region has “Blue Zone” life span expectancy per the ample fruit farming. Also, back in the day the Environmentalist fought tooth and nail appealing to legal system to halt construction as these nuclear plants would destroy the fragile eco system of Lake Michigan. Turns out as usual the Environmentalist had no scientific credibility and yet another example of blowing propaganda to get their way. The Lakes’ eco system has benefited per warmer water to the extreme that DNR has shoved away fisherman and claim these warm water outlets a fishing preserve. The lake has some of the largest wind resources upon U.S.. Some day wind may become economic justifiable if and when costs drop to 30% of current. Activist fight this with help of popularity seeking Judges and opportunist politicians. They claim some 20 miles out a visual eye sore. You couldn’t see it without binoculars. To much of this business as usual system of laws and justice manipulated by activist minority that gain power per willing media that amp up their shrill fanaticism. The majority just taking care of business and try to avoid the painful political drama of the few.

            • By Forrest on December 26, 2015 at 7:47 am

              Oh, fracking the same. Michigan has long history of this process that went unnoticed until the Left Environmentalist decided the energy stream was to powerful of a solution when compared to wind desires. They quickly marshaled forces per usual suspects to demagogue, politicize, and invoke as much junk science ASAP for the cause. It didn’t work here as citizens will finally discover the truth back of page 9 newspaper coverage that attempts a stab of being balanced. Funny to see old yard signs of hardcore rotting away with “Save Michigan ban fracking” verbiage.

            • By Russ Finley on December 26, 2015 at 12:29 pm

              Not sure “most” politicians are against nuclear. Maybe in Germany, but not in the States, the UK, France etc. Most politicians would be for or against anything that will get them reelected. Lots of people live within 20 miles of power plants of all kinds and are either fine with it or unaware of it. The NIMBY propensity applies to wind also, as the Cape Wind project attests.

      • By AChemPhD on December 28, 2015 at 5:17 pm

        China is actually increasing coal use at least through 2030.

  2. By Forrest on December 5, 2015 at 6:30 am

    Shouldn’t the discussion be directed to emissions of energy sources and not the fuel, itself. It’s a subtle difference, but better to classify emissions per the conversion process or better yet life cycle and value. Coal has high value because of the immensity of reserves and wide geographical availability. The fuel is easy to store, convert to power, and extremely low cost. So, the value is extremely attractive for energy needs. Their is a wide array of coal to energy conversion processes. Shouldn’t we be more focused on developing the most efficient and least polluting of the processes? To invent best in class conversion processes? We could sell this approach to developing economies much easier then leading them to more expensive energy choices. Nothing competes with coal for low cost fuel for power generation.

    • By Forrest on December 5, 2015 at 7:04 am

      Also, shouldn’t the discussion of “Where The Emissions Are” always include emissions from all sources? Man made is but a small fraction. I think typical environmental concerns get lost for the trees hiding the forest. It is the net total emissions that impact the environment, man made or otherwise. It is much easier, cheaper, and more powerful to work within natures carbon emissions. That is a much bigger piece of pie. Utilizing cellulosic feed stock that would other wise decompose by aerobic bacteria should be extremely powerful tool. Same with waste processes to methane. Logging mature timber or pelleting diseased trees for fuel should also be extremely powerful and increase the sorely needed job production. Understanding the biology of soil, plant growth, wood and grassland has many times the potential for both wildlife and emissions.

      I think it is good to increase our conversion efficiency for energy needs and to lower the emissions when doing so. But, we need to do so upon a cost efficient and well thought out progress plan. This includes the reality factor of value, limited funds, poor countries investments potential, etc. We need to vet or temper those with much political power attempting idealized solutions that in reality less potent. For example the grid may not be the Goldilocks answer to energy needs. It may be prove to be expensive, hard to control, and fragile energy source best suited to low energy demands with backup power. It may prove most beneficial to limit its use to high density population areas that can suffer no emissions and can benefit with nearby small footprint nuclear power generation.

  3. By Oso_Politico on December 5, 2015 at 3:25 pm

    ‘As we seek to reduce carbon dioxide emissions’ – first explain why, as CO2 has very little to do with being a thermostat for ‘global’ temperature….

    • By Robert Rapier on December 5, 2015 at 3:48 pm

      Yeah, I don’t get into that at all here. The fact is that the world is meeting to reduce carbon emissions. That’s fact. So as we seek to do this, I wanted to show where those emissions are and are likely to be.

      • By Oso_Politico on December 5, 2015 at 4:12 pm

        Who gives a damn about what the ‘world’ wants? The question is why should we even bother?

        • By Optimist on December 11, 2015 at 8:17 pm

          Who gives a damn what you think?

          Go back to the cave of denial. Enjoy the company, while you still have it…

  4. By Bullfrog on December 6, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    Even if every country keeps their Paris pledge it won’t make a measurable difference in current or future temperature increase. According to a peer reviewed paper based on current climate models, the combined impact of all the global greenhouse gas reduction plans is between 5 and 15 hundreths of a degree celcius. That’s IF every country meets their goals. So, no, were not solving anything we’re just pissing in the wind.

    • By Robert Rapier on December 6, 2015 at 5:02 pm

      Yeah, there is a lot of carbon emissions momentum in the system that will keep emissions rising for a good while in the most optimistic case. We do tend to fool ourselves about the impact our efforts can have. I think if people knew the truth, many activists would be deeply depressed.

      • By Forrest on December 7, 2015 at 7:06 am

        The truth is we are just starting to understand biology and in turn the carbon cycle. We are attempting environmental predictions within ignorance. The science is just not accurate enough to make predictions.

        “We’re just rearranging the deck chairs upon the Titanic when limiting our solutions to supply side” “We can not reduce CO2 to safe levels unless the other side of the equation included.

        So, this article is about soils. The history of poor farming practices that dumped 50%-70% of the soils carbon to atmosphere. That is a big chunk, considering currently we have 2,500 billion tons of carbon in soil. Only 800 b in atmosphere and 560 b in plant and animal life. Our modern government agencies and environmentalist look at the history for agriculture and hydro and deem them evil. With modern technology and up to date knowledge they instead can be great tools for environmental improvement. “Understanding soil microbiology and carbon cycle is poised for tremendous growth”. Restoring soils per modern agronomic practices would result in 4-11 billion tons annual CO2 sequestration. We emit 32 b ton from fossil fuel, annually. The biological solution side is cheap, actually makes money and increases food and fuel production. Were just starting to realize the potential. Come to find out the most inept of government programs for GW may
        be the paying of farmers to idle weed infested poor soil land.

        To date EPA rates the soil per 15-30 cm depth where in we’ve discovered, deep soil is where carbon sequestration occurs. Grass plant (including corn) have deep roots that efficiently sequester to 5 meter depths. The modern farm technology of adding mycorrhizal fungi empowers soil sequestration by 15%. Linking the fungi with plant growth adds up to 70% improvement and the fungi keeps the carbon in ground. By the way EPA old rating of corn ethanol missed this, also. Modern agriculture is regenerative to soil, improves fertility, and resilience to flood and drought. What do we need to focus on? Developing more tall grass land and utilizing the feed stock to cellulosic ethanol. Plant farmland for crop rotation and continued year round growth. Empower agroforestry practices of managing woodland intensively for max growth and harvest, increase mulching, stop burning practices, increase biochar production, better pasture management, improve the control of soil erosion. Restoration of mangroves, salt marshes, and sea grass.

        • By Forrest on December 7, 2015 at 7:33 am

          Some of this stuff makes one smack head and express, “doh”. Read an article that farmers in California are learning they can make money by accepting municipal storm water. One owner discovered flooding his vineyard with three feet of runoff during dormant times had no negative effect on plants. The common practice is to let it flow to streams either raw or with minimal processing. This does little for raising the water table. Michigan state evaluated drainage of grey water to top soil and grass. They found the natural biological processes most potent at this point and resulted in superior water conditioning as compared to septic and leach field. Same with water treatment within artificial marsh land. I think it’s great to pull down these sacred cows of conventional EPA, Clean Water, and regulations. To expose them to daylight to ascertain their true worth. Oh, the defenders will discover a minute pollutant that within reality is meaningless, nevertheless they will attempt to ax any low cost, non organized political labor alternative and avoid the loses of the heavy hand of government control. I think this phenomena is thriving upon GW power and wealth concerns.

      • By Forrest on December 8, 2015 at 7:00 am

        Sutton’s law should be applied to GW. Wikipedia- The law is named after the bank robber Willie Sutton, who reputedly replied as to why he robbed banks by saying “because that’s where the money is”.

        Considering currently we have 2,500 billion tons of carbon in soil. Only 800b in atmosphere and a measly 560b in plant and animal life, shouldn’t we realize the key to sequestration of carbon is soil? Especially, since inferior agriculture practices wasted 50-70% of the farmland soil’s carbon. Science is just now understanding the scale of carbon sequestration possible upon man made activities of forestry and farming. Modern practices can greatly magnify the natural process. Science is just now starting to understand the complex web of micro organisms within soil and their abilities within the plant kingdom.

        Personally, being a lifetime gardener, I’ve notice the practice often the R&D spear head of farming. I guess this gives me a heads up on what’s possible. The typically gardening enthusiast is forever toying, experimenting, and investing to make life easier and the garden more productive. The experience makes for a very positive outlook for food production. One with such experience, for example, would easy discount the popular environmentalist alarm of a future of starvation, even with the actual advent of GW.

        Read the link below, especially the part of utilizing mulch. The most recent invention of gardening is the Genesis practice. There is to much to cover here, but will say you could have a wonderful garden on gravel road with this system. All of the biological empowerment appears to be maximized. Watering and weeding not a concern. To my amazement the system maximizes carbon sequestration within soil.

        Well, if were talking of the GW future here and the inability of predicting the future, think of the rapidly implementing technology of robots and drones. It is unquestionable that this technology will be wholly exploited upon agriculture as well as forestry. Dovetail this with accurate positioning system and the magnitude of computing power. It doesn’t take a genius to understand the pinpoint accuracy of farming. The giant heavy equipment will be a thing of the past since they work so hard to trample the earth. Soil compaction is poison to plant life. I would guess the technology would progress to the point where a purchase at Amazon would enable a small parcel land owner to obtain a farm in a box solution.

        Do the math. Most capable farmers compete in corn yields and the winner usually north of 600 bushel per acre. Consider GMO will have a major impact and future could look mighty productive. Know that current farming harvest sits at 160 bushel/acre and at max they take 20-25% of stover. So, given the Genesis method requires no stover and the extra corn to be utilized for fuel production. That the processing technology yield will steady improve as the transport sector efficiency. It would be an easy task to fuel the entire transportation sector with no increase in farmland. But adding to the math the steady deployment of battery car that may take over metro personal transportation per the need to minimize emissions. Also, the hydrogen solution. No, I guess I’m not afraid of GW!

    • By Craig Teller on December 9, 2015 at 5:02 am

      First of all, the goals being discussed in Paris are preliminary steps before doing more.

      Also, there’s a rule of thumb that applies to any big problem: stop making it worse.

      Let’s assume for a moment that global warming is real. It’s one way of brainstorming to consider where the next thirty years may be going. For example, who’s likely to keep producing in the next thirty years? Well, producers whose costs are low (Saudi Arabia, for example). Are their new chemicals and materials (with good profit margins) that can be made from crude that won’t release a lot of carbon dioxide? That’s one way of staying in business. As more droughts occur, can drilling equipment be modified to drill down to deeper aquifers. I would guess there are a lot of areas in the world that haven’t been explored with water specifically in mind. Hey, maybe the companies that make drilling equipment can hire a couple of electrical engineers and make wind turbines, maybe ones better than what’s currently on the market. Look, I don’t know the answers to any of this but I had relatives in the oil business who focused on the problems in front of them (building one of the first long-distance natural gas pipelines for example), rather than trying to hold on to old gigs such as laying railroad tracks in a nation that was pretty much done with that.

  5. By Forrest on December 9, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    Interesting to listen to an interview with top climatologist of GW from Boulder facility. It was a discussion of the science. The guy was speaking in common understandable terms and not being sensational or dramatic. With my Engineering and statistical background I get the science. The interviewer rattled on with his biases depicting the science as absolute and shockingly dangerous.

    Those with critical thinking skills have always called into question the accuracy of GW science since knowing how complex nature is and the magnitude of the earth. Also, questioning temperature measurements, qualifying weather or climate, and to establish a benchmark of normal. This guy was speaking the same language. They are learning more upon the science and can at best pick up upon statistical evidence of a trend. That would be a confidence slightly higher than not that temperature is increasing at a higher rate than normal. Notice this is statistical evidence not absolute science. It’s just picking up on maybe an unnatural trend as compared to natural history of earth. They do have computer simulation exercises to attempt to further understand the science, but just because the computer has amazing math skills, this should not infer the science is accurate. They’re in a learning curve and may never fully understand the amazing complexity to offer any confidence of future forecast. The future damage talk is all speculative, based on extrapolating what they might know. They can’t hook up any weather pattern to GW. Again, those that attempt that are just speculating and upon doing so, doing the science a disfavor. The best indicator to date is satellite data of ice melts in Greenland and Arctic regions. But, again they are finding the science of this complex. They do not fully understand natures powerful counterweights to mitigate change. Meaning they track this stuff and discover a new power of natural adaptation to temper the warming. So, they think and calculate an educated guess that this is happening and urge civilization to take take action as prudent precaution to not artificially heat up the planet. Whether we would be better off being warmer as history of civilization has often indicated or not is not their call. If you want CO2 levels below man’s influence and the resulting higher confidence of getting higher temperatures upon an average, best to act. So, we have a lot a fanaticism within GW talking points and my contention, the sky is falling provocateurs are so energized as they perceive a value in doing so. A political value or environmental opportunity to change the country. Any fanatic talk of GW should be greatly discounted as mere hearsay. We need facts and low cost solutions that improve our economy and opportunities. We needn’t push our standard of living down or embrace total government control. It is best to act, but since the science is soft and no ability for damage assessment, best to act prudently and not reactionary.

    • By Forrest on December 13, 2015 at 9:17 am

      Read up on the father of GW, Hansen. Wow, what a narcissist. He is an alarmist, activist, and all politics. NASA was holding his agenda back so off to Columbia he went. Arrested several times, demonstrates in front of Bush White House as well as Keystone for television crews. Always, bashes Republicans so very useful to modern politics at any cost. Easy to envision Cindy Sheehan and Hansen bumping fists per political campaign success upon phony concerns. Why did Cindy or the need to film caskets completely implode? Why should we give any credibility to these political opportunists? Hansen famously testified to Congress ’74 that GW gasses were trapping heat with 99% certainty. So what’s the big deal? Without the phenomenon citizens of earth would be frozen. It’s a false correlation to imply GW science to be that accurate.

      The science best described per Donald Rumsfeld remarks upon press conference, “you don’t know what you don’t know”. Does anyone think we can manage earth’s temperature so accurately to the degree by merely bouncing CO2 atmosphere concentrations by .01%? And that Man’s puny CO2 contribution the entire driver of climate? Why is GW limited only to man made CO2, since nature has magnitudes more influence? I read the Paris talks exclaimed made made CO2 shall not exceed natures natural ability per soil and forest. What the heck? Why must we have leave nature alone? Man can magnify natures ability to sequester CO2. That is the fertile ground to low cost least disruptive CO2 decreases. We needn’t always embrace more central control of our lives or be scarred into the allowing the “change”. We should embrace and energize the entire free and open market of ideas and action before concluding coercive and freedom losing is the only path. It is a path, but a horrible low efficient path. As always best to take the regulation shackles off of enterprising private sector. Put the sharing of low cost ideas and invention upon the entire decision makers of our economy. You know the ones not merely invested in politics, the ones that will suffer personal economic hardships if their decision making skill not honed.

  6. By Forrest on December 14, 2015 at 8:14 am

    The grid is the major carbon emitter per your post on coal. We could do more for the grid and the environment by off loading as much grid power load as possible to natural gas. For example better to dry clothes at home with natural gas achieving 90+% efficiency than utilizing “clean power” from a coal plant with finial efficiency of 24%.This is the phase one, first priority action plan to improve the grid and lower emissions. It will change per future needs as well as all other factors that continually change and unknown. But to me this is a no brainer.

  7. By Forrest on December 21, 2015 at 11:05 am

    Within the sea of opportunity to decrease CO2 in atmosphere, one must acknowledge such as you post, the electric grid is the biggest culprit. Not fossil fuels per say, but burning fossil fuels within low inefficiencies of the grid. The public has a mind block upon electricity. That being the wonderful high efficiency of power conversions technology, but forgetting the horrible power production end. The low and unstable efficiency of power production is a huge factor even for the return on investment dollars to make the grid less polluting. The process of improving the grid will be extremely expensive, slow, and fraught with technological problems yet to be solved.

    However, I do read of promising technology to improve the matter. But, first order or priority should be to remove as much demand as possible per the below comment and allow already efficient natural gas to carry large btu loads. Decrease the grid load by 50% is achievable and at a consumer cost savings. The BEV should not be a priority until and if the grid exists in efficient low polluting state producing excess power.

    Princeton is making news of a common sense micro grid that saves money and increase efficiency. The only illogical investment was the huge sum per tuition and taxpayer bonuses for uber expensive solar. Yeah, 8% of the needed power production. A joke. Motors were swapped to the high efficient class as lights, etc.. The backbone of the power system is CHP system sized per 50% of load to ensure high utilization and efficiency of both heat and power. They can operate the campus with power even if grid is down. By decreasing demand of power, utilization of micro grid control, and generating power per the CHP system allowed them to drastically decrease CO2 production, lower utility cost, have a more robust industrial harden supply of power, and include a natural powerful backup power supply. I believe this is the future of the grid.

    So, could this be just the stuff to improve the grid? To decentralize power production or at least promulgate regulations that make the task easy. To evolve the common utility to the task of engineering, coordinating, and assisting in production of micro grid power. The utility becomes the controller, facilitator, to maximize efficiency of the miro-grid energy distribution. They lay the power lines and pipe lines to make it happen.

    The transportation sector is quickly improving per increased efficiency, lower emissions, and increase in production of low carbon fuels. The grid is the 200# gorilla in the room. Now, why do Environmentalist insist BEV is the solution?

  8. By takchess on December 22, 2015 at 4:32 pm

    off topic but of general interest .

    unsure if I would agree with the numbers but interesting to see possible improvements in such a mature tech.

    Have a Merry Christmas.

    • By Forrest on December 23, 2015 at 7:52 am

      I don’t think it’s off topic, if we’re talking of where the carbon emissions are. That bottom graph says it all. Environmentalist are misguided with enthusiasm for grid power solutions. Don’t get me wrong, in that improving the grid carbon footprint is an honorable under taking, but we need to place common sense in the decision process and budgets. Our political system has been corrupted by politics of flaming fanaticism and empowering activist. The country was best served with leadership as in representative governance. Not exploiting prejudices for votes. That is akin to selling the country out for political power.

      Your link of laser ignition and benefits very interesting. The spark plug is the weakest link of SI engines. The reason diesel ignition is more efficient. But, the laser may level the efficiency. Also, the opposed piston engine such as Archates very promising. Did you read that Argonne lab is experimenting with the engine and applying improvements made with fuel injection? It’s a gasoline compression ignition engine that is expected to be 50% more fuel efficient as compared to the best turbo DI engines of today. They can limit the BMEP (chamber pressure) for gasoline low cost and light weight engine market. The engine is naturally a less expensive engine and much smaller. They will operate above 40% thermal efficiency. So, that would be closing in on twice as efficient as grid steam turbine power once delivering power to the consumer. So, at the pace and cost of improving transportation sector carbon footprint, I don’t see the grid solutions to transportation being that potent. Hybrid technology increases the gap as well. An exception, the light duty passenger market within metro may be a possibility per minimal emissions within the city proper and mass transit per autonomous vehicles. If they utilize near by nuclear, that would be a tremendous GW and zero health emission solution. However, I don’t think Environmentalist are capable of thinking outside their wind solar box. I read of comments that make you shake your head, such as “well a gasoline car still has carbon within the fuel”. But, they flip flop when it comes to nuclear. Like I say they have a whale of a block or closed mindset. “Don’t confuse me with the facts.”

  9. By Forrest on December 24, 2015 at 6:43 am

    The market petrol place is confused. Saudis are predicting $70/barrel oil some 15 years out? At this price point crude oil will start upward trajectory. This doesn’t make sense to me, given what the trend lines indicate from growing economies and need for maximum energy. But, the technology is equally empowering. Autonomous car technology will develop. Twenty five years out private car ownership will be rare. Low cost sensor technology just starting the 4th industrial revolution. These sensors will store data in the cloud for what ever need. They will be utilized for energy efficiency, safety, compliance, power load prediction, etc. Cars will be extremely lightweight to bicycle class and sized for the need. Probably batter power. This will make metro living very convenient. My guess the “smart grid” will be able to level load power and flex power to production output. So, this will be good for wind energy and the base load power generation of hydro, nuclear, and natural gas. Maximizing the utilization.

    Ethanol and the whole biological solution to GW and energy needs continues to gain vitality. I’ve pick up on the CO2 conversion process to fuel are much more suitable to the clean CO2 waste stream of bio-processors as compared to original intent to clean up coal emissions. The efficiency of ICE with hybrid technology is upon an even steeper grade of improvement than once projected.

    The 25 year span 2040, looks to be a particularly slippery slope to make predictions of petrol demand. Nothing can be extrapolated from old data. Our energy sector will indeed be upon a high rate of change as the number of tools per technology to improve use and lower emissions very impressive. I can’t envision concerns of GW past this point.

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