Fade to Black: Bad News for Fossil Fuels

February 5, 2016

coalfade

Bad week, in what’s going to be a tough decade for Big Fossil.

I’ll be posting a series of updates on this over the coming days. Change is coming faster than most people think.

Climate Progress:

In a stunning trend with broad implications, the U.S. economy has grown significantly since 2007, while electricity consumption has been flat, and total energy demand actually dropped.

“The U.S. economy has now grown by 10% since 2007, while primary energy consumption has fallen by 2.4%,” reports Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) in its newly-released 2016 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook. BNEF’s Factbook, which is chock full of excellent charts and data, cites studies attributing most of this change to improvements in energy efficiency.

BNEFdecoupling1

CREDIT: BNEF

Equally remarkable, this “decoupling” between energy consumption and GDP growth extends to the power sector: “Since 2007, electricity demand has been flat, compared to a compounded annual growth rate of 2.4% from 1990 to 2000.” As I discussed in my recent renewables series, this decoupling is an unprecedented achievement in modern U.S. history. It may seem especially remarkable for an economy underpinned by soaring usage of the internet and electronic equipment — but as I wrote in a 1999 report, a true Internet-based economy was always likely to be a more efficient economy.

Mark Jacobson in FastCoExist:

When solar farms in sub-Saharan Africa start to become more common than coal-fired power plants, it is time for the rest of the world to take notice. The clean energy revolution is happening right now under our feet.


The rapidly unfolding energy transition is bypassing coal and going straight to low-cost renewables. As countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America seize this chance to “leapfrog” over fossil fuels and expand their clean energy capacity, they not only benefit from economic growth and cheap electricity, they also increase their security and avoid the severe damage to health and the environment that burning fossil fuels causes.

In fact, the Paris Climate Conference prompted the creation of the African Renewable Energy Initiative, a continent-wide program to massively increase Africa’s clean energy over the next 15 years while bypassing the pitfalls of fossil fuels.

As the new African Renewable Energy Initiative indicates, countries have the ability not only to leapfrog fossil fuels, but also to replace them while still keeping the lights on. Our research, conducted at Stanford University and the University of California, shows that by 2050 nearly every country in the world can transition its all-purpose energy to 100% clean, renewable wind, water and sunlight.

Africa has significant clean energy resources available that make it technically and economically feasible for 80% of the continent’s energy to be switched to renewables from fossil fuels no later than 2030.

As Africa’s current population grows from 1.1 billion to 1.6 billion by 2030, wind and solar could overtake fossil fuels as the dominant forms of energy. For example, our analysis shows that South Africa could get 56% of its electricity from utility-scale solar, Kenya 28%, and Mozambique 34%, all for lower cost than electrifying with coal. While conservative scenarios predict about half of the continent will have access to the electricity grid by 2030, this means 640 million Africans will plug into the grid for the first time thanks to renewables.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PX0-yiZAbBI

Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

As many U.S. power companies fight the federal Clean Power Plan, Xcel Energy took a different path Friday, declaring the utility’s Minnesota operations are “nearly certain” to comply with the plan’s greenhouse gas reductions through cost-effective investments over the next decade.

The strategy, which Xcel first laid out last year and firmed up in a regulatory filing late Friday, calls for $6 billion in wind and solar energy investment, retirement of two Minnesota coal-burning units, construction of a nearly $1 billion natural gas-fired generator and further investment to retain the carbon-free energy from its two nuclear power plants.

“We think it is a good business plan, period,” said Laura McCarten, a regional vice president for the Minneapolis-based utility, as it submitted details to the state Public Utilities Commission.

McCarten said Xcel’s analysis of the strategy, which speeds up wind and solar investment in this decade, shows it to be a cost-effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60 percent by 2030 — likely beyond Minnesota’s requirements under the Clean Power Plan.

Xcel also responded to concerns by state regulators about the ballooning cost of preserving its two nuclear power plants in Minnesota. The utility defended the projected investment of $1.2 billion or more over 15 years as cost-effective but said it is open to discussing early retirement of the Prairie Island nuclear plant in Red Wing, Minn.

Xcel projects investing $3 billion in wind energy and $3 billion in solar in its Minnesota region by 2030. The wind power additions would be the equivalent of nine of Xcel’s largest existing wind farms, with four projects built by 2020. Much of that investment would benefit from a recent five-year extension by Congress of renewable energy tax credits.

The federal subsidy brings down the cost of wind and solar by 30 percent. Xcel has said new wind power, with the subsidy, costs less over time than buying fuel to burn in existing power plants. That’s one reason Xcel estimates the entire plan’s effect on Minnesota electric rates would be moderate — about 2.4 percent annually through 2030. Recent rate hikes have been higher.

 

 

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35 Responses to “Fade to Black: Bad News for Fossil Fuels”


  1. Stop with the idiotic assumptions that populations will continue to grow. The fact that we’re getting wars in the Middle East and Africa indicates that populations are already too large for the areas impacted.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      There is nothing “idiotic” about the FACT that populations will continue to grow. Do some study on population dynamics in general and human populations in particular and that will become obvious to you.

      Mankind has been at war for as long as we have been “civilized”, and war is not the thing that controls population—-famine, plagues, and pestilence are what really get that job done.

      The globalized economy will continue to grow along with human population, and Africa and South Asia MUST do better than than we have re: CO2 emissions or it will be game over.


      • So are you arguing that we can have infinite growth in a finite world?

        “Confirmation bias is a phenomenon wherein decision makers have been shown to actively seek out and assign more weight to evidence that confirms their hypothesis, and ignore or underweigh evidence that could disconfirm their hypothesis.”

        • dumboldguy Says:

          Geez, Louise! Is YOUR confirmation bias causing you to read something into my comment that is not there?

          If you have read any of my past comments on Crock, you will know that I have argued strongly that the opposite is true—-that we cannot have “infinite growth in a finite world”. I have been studying the problem for a long time, and have come to the conclusion that we are nearing the end of a long horse race, and the proverbial Four Horsemen are inching into the lead.

          Time is short to remedy that, and the undeveloped and developing nations are going to grow and develop whether we like it or not. Africa has the highest birth rate on the planet, there are more people in India than in the entire continent of Africa, and the Indians talk a good game but need to show results. The entire world economy is built on the concept of growth, and I will repeat that if Africa and India don’t choose a very low-carbon path, the game will be over.

      • lorne50 Says:

        I agree oldguy but has anyone said does obomer mean 10 bucks for all imported oil too ??

        • dumboldguy Says:

          I’d answer your question, loon50, but I’m not sure what you’re saying. Ask Omnologos to help you state it more clearly.


      • Dumboldguy,

        Greetings! I saw some of your posts over on fracplan, and noticed we have a lot of the same tastes in books, authors, etc. Tell me what you think about this video — I thought it was fantastic!

        Don’t Panic – The Facts About Population

        The other thing, in these discussions about decoupling of energy use from economic growth… always left out it seems is the factor of industrial displacement to the developing world — principally China. I’ve seen estimates that emissions reduction from this in the developed world could be in the area of 15%, which about matches the numbers quoted in the Crock article.

        Obama’s oil tax should be done on a tax + rebate basis to protect the poorer sectors of society. It’s a no-brainer. Then if you want to invest in the transportation sector, have some balls and tax the rich. However you do it, it won’t get done without political will, i.e., support of the people. First step, elect Bernie.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          Not sure what you mean by “fantastic”. Yes, Rosling is entertaining, and there was a lot of good info in the video—-the “animated” graphics are particularly good. On the other hand, it is quite fantastic that such a smart guy could go so far off the deep end and get let himself get carried into the land of the bright-sided with his manipulation of the statistics (both economic and population).

          IMO, we will be extremely lucky if we manage to stabilize the planet in time to avoid the worst impacts of AGW. Jared Diamond’s “Collapse” gives a far better understanding of what has happened to human societies in the past and what is likely to happen in the future. See his take on China and look at the latest news from there and connect up the dots.

          We will never see 11 billion people on this planet, and certainly not 4 billion in Africa and 5 billion in Asia as Rosling posits. The planet is cracking under the strain of supporting 7+ billion right now, and the poor folks in Mozambique and Bangladesh are far more likely to die in droves in the coming disaster than succeed the way Rosling hopes. India has completed a fence along the entire Bangladesh border—-when the SHTF, a belt of land mines and machine gun posts will go next to it, and Africa is known for its massacres and genocides. Make lots of popcorn.

          Rosling’s effort may make the “Ignorant British” whose survey results he cites feel better, but this video is not something that will allay the “panic” felt by those who understand the real dilemma. His “steady state” population with “2 billion children” and 2 billion adults at each layer of the population pyramid is something that may be achievable in principle in a given country but will never happen for the planet as a whole.

          I could go on for several pages, but the greatest inadequacy in Rosling’s presentation is in the interpretation he makes of his neat moving population “bubbles” and his “camel hump” wealth diagrams. Those 2 billion poorest people in Africa and Asia have not really made as much progress as Rosling posits and are not likely to do so simply because of Rosling’s wishful thinking. They are living on a knife edge, and once the AGW crisis really takes hold, they will be the first to die. I find the estimates of 1/2 to 2-1/2 billion humans on the Earth in 2100 to be far more believable.


        • Dumboldguy,

          Thanks for the careful and informed reply and for taking the time to watch the video. I only watched it one time through and apparently, I have less to compare his analysis with than you do.

          Your emphasis on his particular predictions for ultimate planet population stabilization point is in contrast to my appreciation for his methodology based on observations of how populations grow and the dynamics involved. I found these novel and credible, especially as they are buttressed by his lifelong experience living in poor African communities and his presumable resulting deep familiarity and understanding.

          You may be right that his unstated assumption of continuing conditions of environment that may be already receding into planet history invalidate his predictions. And I agee such considerations were a detraction and nagging question as I watched. So to answer your question, what I found “fantastic” was, allowing for and disregarding his possibly erroneous assumptions, his unique analysis was otherwise credible and worthwhile in and of itself. It came across like an elegant mathematical proof.

          Perhaps there are ways forward with outcomes not so bleak as you envision. I certainly don’t know. America is a powerful agent of mischief and terror, disruption and destruction. The new memes of depopulation and social cleansing are troubling. However, if that changes soon, things may begin to look more hopeful. OTOH, I have a lot of sympathy for the other side of the coin… I’m beginning to check out Dmitri Orlov and his philosophy of aquiescence and passive resistance. Basically, “float a boat”. “Rise with tide”. His blog, called Club Orlov has a recent post in which he recalls scenes from his childhood in Russia, which I found really beautiful. His analysis and prediction of American collapse is based on his experience of Russian collapse. A compelling argument.

          Thanks for the recommendation to check Jared Diamond — I’m always on the lookout for new perspectives.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Rosling is a medical doctor and a statistician and an entertainer, NOT an expert in population dynamics. Don’t let the “elegance” of his presentation blind you to the fact that he is approaching the problem from the same place that economists do—from projections and statistical manipulations that ignore science—-and we all know how successful the economists area at predicting the future.

            Read the closing paragraphs of this analysis to hear what people who ARE closer to the problem have to say about his “fantastic” BS. Rosling’s living in Africa has perhaps given him a “deep familiarity and understanding” with very localized situations, but it does NOT qualify him to make the broad assumptions he has in “Don’t Panic”. Reread my last paragraph. The odds of world population achieving his 11 billion “stack” are vanishingly small.

            http://www.populationmatters.org/2013/population-matters-news/hans-rosling-ecologically-illiterate/


          • Dumboldguy,

            Thanks for the population matters link. I thought it was unnecessarily hostile and inaccurate in its characterization of the Rosling presentation. There were a few further links at the bottom of the page, mostly with the same or worse slant, but one did a much more accurate and fair assessment, the one titled “Review of ‘The Truth about Population’”. Quoting the critical paragraphs:

            Another challenge is the enormous disparity of income. Much of the world is in catch up mode, aspiring to improve their living standards. They are succeeding, turbocharging carbon emissions and consumption of all kinds and creating a multiplier effect together with population growth. Yet, there are still a billion in extreme poverty, where they cannot rely on even having sufficient food and clean water for good health and child development.

            Rosling acknowledges that climate change and resource adequacy are outside his field of expertise. He points to the undoubted potential in Africa for higher agricultural yields through transport improvements and modern farming techniques. More generally, he relies on the prosperous accepting the need to limit their consumption to a level that is sustainable in a world of eleven billion.

            The questions remaining in my mind are is it simply overpopulation that is stressing the environment or is it gratuitous waste and vastly uneven and inequitable use of resources? Those that claim it is the former should make their case in as clear and documented a manner as Rosling has in the case of where we have been and where we are headed population-wise.

            Of course changing contingencies of resource availability are going to change what population Earth can sustain. That doesn’t change the logic of Rosling’s analysis, which was intended to demonstrate the existence and magnitude of the upper limit of the population equilibrium, a fact about which he felt there was great ignorance around the world.

            If you have ever tried to solve a complex problem, then you know that it must first be broken down into its parts, and then one by one, variables are added, each new level of complexity substantially mastered before going on to the next. I look at Rosling’s presentation as only the first step in tackling the complex problem of what the planet can sustain and finding practical approaches to dealing with it.

            I did do some checking on Jared Diamond. Interesting, relevant and worthwhile guy. He makes the important point that in a lot of cases resource depletion is a matter of not intrinsic constraints but rather poor management!!

            I have a post waiting in moderation that got swallowed automatically because of multiple hyperlinks. This post pretty much supersedes that older one, but that older one also has a section about the new Jane Mayer book “Dark Money” you should check.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Clean out your perceptual screens and reread my earlier comments and the population matters link. I will say again that Rosling’s entertaining and informative presentation must be taken with a huge grain of salt. I enjoyed the hour spent watching it because it WAS entertaining and contained useful data, but Rosling DID steer us wrong, particularly in the last 10 minutes.

            I don’t see how you can characterize something as “hostile” just because it points out error—Am I being “hostile” for disagreeing with Rosling and your bright-sided acceptance of his words? Actually, I could be a lot more “hostile” and suggest that because Rosling is so charming and does have such neat graphic displays of data, that he is really dangerous—that he misleads the ill informed and holds out a less scary picture of the future than is likely to be true—-a Merchant of Doubt, if you will.

            You say the “Review of ‘The Truth about Population’” is a “much more accurate and fair assessment”?, and quote “critical paragraphs”? What you quoted does not have much to do with what I and the population matters people saw as error in Rosling’s presentation. It’s well understood that the industrial revolution, the rise of capitalism, and globalization have all contributed to the exponential human population growth and the “consumption” that has so strained the earth. That’s not the point of the criticism.

            Rosling demonstrates his ecological, psychological, and economic illiteracy when he speaks of “undoubted potential in Africa for higher agricultural yields through transport improvements and modern farming techniques” and “…the prosperous accepting the need to limit their consumption to a level that is sustainable in a world of eleven billion”. The former will not occur if the effects of AGW strike Africa as expected, and the latter is a denial of human nature and economics.

            It is a sort of chicken or egg argument to ask if it is “overpopulation that is stressing the environment or is it gratuitous waste and vastly uneven and inequitable use of resources”, and neither of those go back to root causes, just as Rosling has NOT documented all the factors involved in “where we have been and where we are headed population-wise”, and that makes his “analysis” misleading and even disingenuous. His blithe projections of human population 85 years from now are not “logical” in that they ignore so much of that “ecology” that AGW is going to impact so severely long before then. That’s why I said that his 11 billion was never going to happen. You are guilty of wishful thinking if you think Rosling’s presentation is “the first step in tackling the complex problem of what the planet can sustain and finding practical approaches to dealing with it”—-it is no such thing, and will only serve to distract some folks from seeking real truths.

            I like Diamond’s writing—-now working through Guns, Germs, and Steel—he is a bit dense and repetitive but has a lot to say. Don’t misread him, though—-global climate change due to AGW is going to trump all his “collapse” factors.

            I’m looking for Dark Money—my library has it only in audio book form at present.


          • Old guy,

            I didn’t think i was being provocative calling Rosling “fantastic”. Maybe I should have phrased it subjectively, as in “I found the presentation clear and informative, YMMV”. As it was, I was ignorant (confirming his sub-thesis and purpose) of

            1) the progress in population growth mitigation which he documented on the basis of UN statistics and close-up visits with the families and educators involved,

            2) the reality of “peak child” having already been achieved,

            3) the derivation of the United Nations max peak total population forecast, based on the FACTS as presented and on the ASSUMPTION of continued climate stability.

            Perhaps the better informed would be less impressed.

            I should be better aware of whom I am speaking to.

            OTOH, the better informed should be able to understand the meaning and intention of declared ASSUMPTIONS (a tool in analysis) and I should not have to keep repeating this. If you were to build a model of human population growth, you would first simplify the world by creating it in its stable, pre-AGW configuration, and then experiment with climate impacts. Being as the old, stable, world is the one for which we have data and the future destabilized one is the one for which we don’t. This is what Rosling has done. In fact, it appears the model is the UN’s and Rosling’s presentation is only his own, expressive, demonstration of that model.

            Aside from our non-reconcilable nitpicks…

            For being humane, it probably would be best to do our utmost at limiting population. Pay a little bit now in prevention rather than pay a lot later in unrest, suffering and destruction. For being fair and having a realistic chance at mitigating emissions or population growth the profligate West, especially the US, must make the first move. That means

            FIRST:

            stop using the rest of the world as our Convenient Mart and pinata bust-up toy.


        • D.O.G.,

          Thanks for the population matters link and your further thoughts. I’ll have to take a second look at the Rosling video and perhaps some of his other stuff, and perhaps review the population growth literature some more, but I don’t really see much matter for argument here. It’s not like he’s denying the need for continued effort in family planning education. On the contrary, I see his treatment as more of a celebration of that kind of effort and the success it has had. Perhaps his upbeat tone and his intense interest are a result the attitude expressed by some westerners that population growth is the real problem the world faces, whereas from a moral and ecological perspective, the developing nations have as much right to growth and prosperity as we do and did in the developed world, where we have already used up more than our fair share of the carbon budget. And since we posess the resources of wealth in over-abundance as a result of our FF exploitation, we are then morally obligated to turn some these resources to use in aiding the developing world to grow and prosper in an ecologically sound (carbon-free) manner. James Hansen has been extremely articulate on this issue. I don’t see how Rosling’s message does anything but foster this framework. However, like I said, I fell I’m ready for another, perhaps more critical, viewing and more information.

          On another note of presumable mutual interest, I don’t know if you’ve seen Jane Mayer’s new book, Dark Money, or her new
          short piece in the New Yorker

          Mayer was a guest on RT’s Thom Hartmann show a couple weeks ago.

          Her investigation provides, smoking gun included, what any sensate being suspected was lacking in
          Scott K. Johnson’s *sympathetic* coverage of the Koch phenomenon and shows how his piece is a perfectly scripted product of what one would expect from their newly hatched, multi-million dollar PR effort. Do you think he got a pat on the head? LOL.


          • Peter, thanks for digging out my auto-moderated post!

            I’m de-embedding one of the hyper-links because there is so little contrast between the color of the link-print and the regular print, I worried that it may have been overlooked by readers. Mayer’s appearance on RT-Thom Hartman:

          • dumboldguy Says:

            LOL. IMO, since Scott Johnson apparently couldn’t make it as a hydrogeologist or a “geoscience educator”, he is now attempting to make his way in the world as a “freelance science writer” for Ars Technica, the magazine for computer and tech geeks in the Conde Nast family of mags (which also includes such hotbeds of intellectual pursuit of science as Brides, Glamour, Golf Digest, GQ, and Vogue).

            IMO, he is a “soother” and “luke warmer” that panders to the Ars Technica crowd—-i.e., don’t get them too upset about coming CAGW or they may get depressed and stop buying useless “tech” junk. Like so many of the young people who find it hard to work for a living and would rather sit at home in their pj’s and sling BS via the internet, I think he will go to the Kochs if the pay is high enough to quiet his conscience—-maybe this piece was an “audition”?

            BTW, I enjoyed your little exchange with SJ and Balan on FP. Did you get banned for speaking truth to them? I may have been—-some of my last comments there are “awaiting moderation”—-haven’t checked for a week, but I suspect that SJ has taken the easy way out and axed me. No great loss if so—IMO, FP is a strange blog that seems to have little purpose beyond padding SJ’s resume to impress the mags..


          • oldguy, yes, I was banned for suggesting that Scott’s ars articles display a pattern of denial. But first they had to demonize me with Balan’s campaign of “Shockley is an ideologue”. Scripted ideological warfare. How ironic!

            The Guy McPherson thread started up in response to my agitations over at ars. I had been a long-time reader there, but then when the Snowden and Manning affairs started hitting the fan, I was noticing and getting frustrated by the limited scope and awareness of the ars coverage. Later I started paying attention to AGW, especially after being exposed to some Guy McPherson videos. Needless to say I was totally naiive at that time wrt climate change science — you could even have called me gullible. But my BS sensors were abuzz and I wanted answers. There ensued a private email exchange between me and Scott, wherein he showed some of the problems with GM’s take on AGW. Then he said he was going to start a blog post treating the whole GM thing. To my surprise, this happened incredibly quickly. A long, detailed, point-by-point deconstruction of GM’s scientific argument. By which I was unconvinced, since it was rather reckless in its own right, coming off as, to use Scott’s own term, the fire-hose approach. The apparent intention was to snow the un- or under-informed with the impression of gross incompetence or charlatanry. Which in some ways is true, but OTOH, Scott’s own inaccuracy and eagerness to inundate undermined his own credibility and intentions.

            But I was really surprised by how quickly Scott made good on his promise. One of those impressions that changes its color as more time and experience color its meaning. In hindsight, I imagine Scott submitting a proposal, it gets approved, and bang! it’s in the money.

            And then, some time later, there was Scott’s blog post about the “dichotomous Kochs”, that left so many questions unanswered, my impression was that Scott thought he was so smart and everyone else was so stupid that if he was bold enough he could pass absolutely anything off.

            And now, a few years later, Jane Mayer makes the scene. If I had any lingering doubts that Scott is in the Koch’s pocket they were completely put to rest by the Mayer revelations.

            OK, you didn’t have to be a genius to see all this. All the more reason not to engage with the deniers on their level. You just get tainted yourself and dragged down into unctuousness. BLECH! What ends up really settling the score is direct action. Protest in the streets. Investigative journalism. Prosecution. Revolution. Heads on pikes.

            Another side of the SJ phenomenon is that he seems to take a lot of cues from Gavin Schmidt, the new GISS guy who replaced Hansen in that position. On a lot of controversial subjects, you can see Scott practically quoting Schmidt verbatim without citation. Especially on controversial matters that have splashed into the press. Both (SJ and Schmidt) are hyper-aware of the PR fallout. It’s like it’s a big part of their jobs to manage the image of AGW.

            I balked at challenges to prove my point about Scott’s bias because it’s so easy to get into non-productive word-warfare. I felt like the entire comment section had proved my point already. But when I had the opportunity in a fresh context on another blog site inhabited by a lot of capable climate scientists, I was amazed at how easily it was done. Start here: and just pay attention to the comments by myself, Ethan Allen, anoilman and leto. There’s a few other conversations going on on that thread.

            Balan is something of a mystery. He seemed sincere enough to begin with. As time went on I began to believe that his motivation was along the lines of thread-domination, more than anything political or AGW-relevant. Strange, intelligent, individual. Can’t really be sure.

            I still follow the FP thread. Some interesting people pass through there and I even appreciate some of the regulars. Nemesis, a new name, has been there for the last few weeks. I’m pretty certain he went by “Curious” in a previous incarnation there. I really like his take and his humor. He has the ability to be extremely succinct and clear and comes up with some way out, valuable links like the one recently about ghost cities in China. Reminds me of you in some ways. LOL

            Anyway, there’s some history and perspective. And also, you see, I get some of the credit/blame for the existence of the thread — along with Scott and sugar daddy diKochamus.

    • addledlady Says:

      One thing we know about violence and wars. Countries suffering extreme and continuing violence, like DR Congo and Afghanistan have the *highest* numbers of children per woman and high rates of population growth.

      Skip to 6 minutes in on this video and have a look at Hans Rosling discussing this. https://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_religions_and_babies?language=en#t-391925

    • pendantry Says:

      @John Eric Victor: sorry, but you’re a total plonker. Global human population is currently growing at about 1%pa (=a doubling time of ~70 years). Negative feedback effects may influence this (wars, disease, famine etc) but there are currently no indications that they will. Idiot, who?

  2. Magma Says:

    But… but… how will we get by without these lovely sooty black sulfurous rocks and liquids? Won’t we be reduced to small bands of stone age hunter gathers wandering the windy plains and cursing our ancestors for rejecting this black gold?

    (My comeback to the intensely stupid straw man argument that moving to a low-carbon economy will mean a return to the stone age is “Sure… if by stone you mean silicon.”)


    • There is a direct correlation and relationship between energy consumption and GDP… (IMF, World Bank, and many many other reputable sources… take your pick).

      For starters, lets take a look at what composes the “growth” in GDP from say 1998 to current? Most of the “growth” DOES NOT come from “increased efficiency” but in FACT comes from increased financial transactions….. Further, I would suggest you consider the relationship between deficit spending and GDP…..

      How about the the increased income inequality in out nation!!!? I would like to point out that your own charts draw attention to the fact that energy consumption has dropped… and so has the income of a vast majority of our population, the poor and the middle class. Do you think that perhaps there might be a relationship between the two?

      Lets look at who is behind this new Bloomberg group….

      CEO… “Prior to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, Jon’s career started with a decade at J P Morgan, supporting their Commodities business and Accenture within their Financial Services practice, including two years helping build the Asian Financial Services practice.”

      I am smelling smoke….. and I think it is being blown up my dress.

  3. Gingerbaker Says:

    Glad to see quotes and links to Jacobson. 🙂

  4. indy222 Says:

    I notice that this “decoupling” of GDP growth and primary energy in the U.S. in the ’90’s corresponds to the big rise of China and Asia as manufacturing centers. Once again, we exported our manufacturing and we canNOT look at individual countries and make sweeping statements about how easy we can lower energy consumption and keep economic growth. GLOBAL economic wealth, integrated over all time, continues to show a fixed constant ratio with energy consumption, right up through 2014 (last published data). NOT within a given country, but globally. Climate is global, CO2 is ‘well mixed’ and global in a very very short time. ENOUGH with this single cherry-picked country boosterism! Sometimes I think the eco-left is just as guilty as the right-wing eco-haters – BOTH insist on economic growth no matter what, and it wrecks their ability to really look and see objectively.


    • Amen.

      Renewables boosterism is a symptom of the same thing. Objective experts and scholarly studies mostly agree that nuclear needs to be fostered and de-stygmatized, as it presents the cheapest/speediest opportunity for transition away from fossil fuels.

      If Germany had spent its solar subsidies on nuclear rather than solar, they would be carbon neutral now (don’t ask for citation). France transitioned to mostly nuclear power generation (70%) in the space of 15 years from the earliest stages of planning — 10 years for actual construction. China’s emphasis on renewables is largely profit-motivated because of the large world-wide subsidies (according to James Hansen).

      The eco lobby convinced Clinton in the 90s to cut funding for nuclear energy research. Another wrong turn. If we had MSR reactors now, what a different world it would be.

      After 30 years of feeble attempts, we may one day soon realize that we can’t do it without canning capitalism (1 dollar/1 vote). Even Kevin Anderson is starting to speak in those terms.


  5. Paul Ehrlich is excellent! (YMMV)
    Earth is way beyond its sustainable carrying capacity.
    Humane mitigation is much faster via consumption regulation than by depopulation.
    As population grows, our ability to govern democratically decreases.
    Many more great insights (questions).
    From 2011

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Paul Ehrlich is excellent by anyone’s measure (why did you say YMMV?). He is not much older than I am and The Population Bomb was a real eye-opener for us back then. Ehrlich’s basic premise is still true, as he explains in this (very long) talk, and it’s just the timing and exact character of the new “bombing” that is not clear. This talk is from 2011—he said then that we “hadn’t done much”, and that’s still true today.

      We managed to finesse our way out of his earlier predictions with “technology”, but the result of that is AGW and even more destruction of the biosphere, and as he says, the situation is so complex that we still don’t understand how and if the human “enterprise system” and the biosphere can ever coexist, and we still seem to think that technology and ‘growth” are going to save us.

      I’m an old guy too, and have watched it all go to hell over the past 50-60 years, so I am as cynical as Ehrlich—-he might have done better with the younger folks in this talk if he had left out the sarcasm and cynicism (although the older folks likely did appreciate it).

      PS Ehrlich mentioned THE William Shockley in his talk. I assume “Bill” is short for William? Are you in any way related to him? And is that why you developed some interest in human populations?

      • dumboldguy Says:

        PPS Forgot to say that it’s a bit hypocritical of Ehrlich to be flying to Australia every year—doesn’t show much concern for his “carbon footprint”. And the bit of praise he had for AUS early in the talk has probably been taken back considering what’s going on down under lately.


      • oldguy,

        I figured Ehrich was probably more your style, but used “ymmv” just to lighten it up a bit. LOL

        Only related to THE William Shockley through admiration (ironically, since he was an antisemite). BS is not my handle in real life. You’re the first to make the connection that I know of but probably some have wondered.

        Interest in population? Well, it IS one side of the rectangle, after all. A lot of the things I post about I come across via Google Chrome’s autoplay function on youtube. Haven’t read a book in a long time but I seem to be pretty well informed by a wordpress standard.

        That’s how I came across Rosling. And Hedges. And Wolff. And a bunch of great documentaries.

        I like Ehrlich. And ecologists in general. They seem to really get it. He comes off as a formidable intellect.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          Which “achievement” of Shockley’s do you admire—-his world-changing invention of the transistor or his stance on eugenics? I take from the “ironically” and “antisemite” references that you’re Jewish?


        • oldguy, a semiconductor-engineer friend recommended to me the book “Crystal Fire” about how the invention of the transistor emerged from a confluence of the war effort, the Bell Labs phenomenon, and three researchers there. I thought it was pretty cool how one guy could almost say “I invented the transistor”, while at the same time that same statement is pretty far from the truth. In short, maybe I just liked the sound of the name.

          I didn’t/don’t know much about Shockley’s ideologic bent. It really had no bearing on my choice of the alias. Just an ironic note that may someday come to haunt me.

          Yes, I’m proudly and shamefully Jewish. As is the blessing/curse with all races. People are, after all, people! (yech!/hooray!)


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