with Peter Sinclair
Mark Jacobson is one of the best informed and most credible advocates for a transition to a fully renewable economy.
Jim Byrne and I interviewed Jacobson in December of 2015, in San Francisco. This is part one.
The whole power demand matching thing? It’s total fantasy. You can only match power demand with dispatchable sources. Period. And that means something you can turn on when demand rises, regardless of the weather. Right now, that’s natural gas. If we want to get to zero fossil (and WE DO), that means geothermal, nuclear, biofuel, and hydro.
Wind and solar have advantages and disadvantages, like everything else. You can’t wish away the downside. You have to engineer the system.
Anyone who thinks that Mark Jacobson has all the answers needs to hear Michael Shellenberger:
Here’s Jacobson and Shellenberger on stage together:
Amory Lovins is touting Germany in 2014. Here’s what Bjorn Lomborg says:
Bjorn Lomburg is not trustworthy. So, neither are you. Go away.
climate deniers looking for the imminent demise of the German economy for the last decade or 2, and they only keep getting stronger.
I’m sorry if I ruined anybody’s day, but Lomborg’s video is devastating! If anyone can refute any of it, please do.
As usual, Lomberg’s video is devastating only to Lomborg’s credibility. Don’t know where he got his figures, but his data is not quite right.
Here’s what Wiki says about the larger picture:
“Germany is one of the largest consumers of energy in the world. In 2014, it consumed energy from the following sources:
Bituminous coal 12.6%
Natural gas 20.4%
Nuclear power 8.1%
Hydropower, windpower, solar 2.1%
Other renewable 9.0%
GB is right—-Lomborg is is a lying POS that is an apologist for fossil fuels and a “delayalist” who thinks AGW is not such a serious problem that we should destroy the world economy to fight it, and if we do, we will “doom the poor people around the world” etc. etc. Reading his books will induce nausea.
As for Jacobsen, he gets it—-too bad that not enough people are listening and we are not moving fast enough.
Lomborg gets his data from the International Energy Agency. You can read about it on Wikipedia. It’s not without its critics. The list of figures you provided is for consumption and they don’t look that far out of line with Lomborg’s. That “Hydropower, windpower, solar 2.1%” looks a little low.
The big point that Lomborg’s video makes is that the term “renewable energy” includes hydro, which is limited and usually built out and biomass, which means burning stuff. It masks how small the wind and solar fraction actually is.
Whether Jacobson’s grand plans for solar and wind will work or not (I think he’s a crackpot), Germany is not an example of where it has. Maybe someday it will be, but I’m very skeptical.
Mention of Bjorn Lomborg does not belong in these columns, they are reserved for serious science and affairs only, see how 14 proficient scientists rate Lomberg’s cherry piked ramblings . .
So please save it for Curry, Watts and co, they will most likely appreciate the nonsense.
Analysis of Bjorn Lomborg’s “…in many ways global warming will be a good thing”
Bjorn Lomborg’s article in The Telegraph argues that “global warming causes about as much damage as benefits”, in blatant disagreement with available scientific evidence, while the author does not offer adequate evidence to support his statements. Upon inspection of the references cited by Lomborg, it turns out that he misrepresents the studies he cites according to their authors (in violation of the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics).
Climate Feedback link attached . . . .
Your figures add up to 80% fossil fuels. Lomborg claimed 81%. So essentially, he is right in this case. I agree, as regards climate change he is a lying P.O.S., but looking at climate change through rose coloured spectacles is just as self-deluding as looking at renewable energy with rose coloured spectacles. Saying that demand goes up and down, and nondespatchable renewables go up and down, so they’re a good match ( versus ‘ inflexible ‘ nuclear output ), is nonsense. Sure, Portugal managed 100% wind and hydro once or twice, but the whole continent is dark at the same time, and most of it is calm or windy at the same time, and has cold dark winters at the same time. The places with the lowest fossil fuel use for power, below ten percent, have all got either plenty of hydro, or plenty of nuclear and plenty of hydro.
“The places with the lowest fossil fuel use for power…plenty of hydro.”
Except for the places that don’t. Iceland supplies (within the Nordic grid, which is 2/3 renewable and increasing with its mix of hydro, wind, geothermal and others) essentially 100% of its electricity from renewables–hydro, geothermal and increasingly wind and even solar. (Scandinavia’s primary energy is 1/3 renewable.) Iceland is the place most would think among the least likely to rely on clean, safe, resilient, renewable energy; it’s small, dark, cold and incredibly energy-intensive (the largest per capita user of electricity in the world). Because of its utterly constant geothermal resources and hydro, it’s made electricity-intensive aluminum production it’s main foreign trade, while the larger grid ramps up wind production, especially reliable offshore wind.
To belittle Portugal is nonsensical. It gets 63% of its electricity from renewables, despite having barely begun to exploit its natural strength, solar. And it does this not once or twice or for short times but all the time. Like many places, it’s increasing its use of renewable energy.
53 countries in the world are mostly electrified by renewable energy. 17 at or near 100% and 4 more close to 100 in amount or time. They include rich, poor, cold, warm, sunny, dark, coastal, inland, small, large… every kind of country in the world. (Except stupid ones–that trait is entirely in the other camp.) Most are increasing; a number are also prioritizing increasing renewable share of primary energy/transport (Norway, e.g.). The US, the meta-Saudi Arabia of renewable potential with an enviable mix of every kind imaginable, lags pathetically behind places like Costa Rica, Bhutan, Scotland and Spain in developing them. Scandinavia, Scotland, Spain, arguably even Bhutan, offer a better life for their inhabitants and far, far less harm to the rest of the world than the US does while they use way less fossil fuel than the US.
The fact that historically, hydro was the only renewable energy–besides all the forms of solar and wind subject to the clothesline paradox (passive solar heating and cooling with thermal mass storage, and solar cooking, e.g.)–means the renewable energy industry as it exists now is only a little over a decade old. Remarkable transformation has happened in that time; and solar, wind, tidal, wave, geothermal and other energy sources are rapidly increasing. They can now be added to hydro which is now only one of several “baseload” or dispatchable forms of renewable energy. And they can be mixed in a locally-tailored system that provides what’s needed in virtually every place in the world. No place is doing this nearly fast enough to avoid disaster, however, so it would be good for humanity if people would stop spreading absurd, oft-debunked nonsense meant to retard the growth of the energy systems of the 21st century.
Bjorn Lomborg set a pattern and Schellenberger has been one person to follow it–pretend to be an environmentalist, write a book using false factoid after untruth after simple lie, string them together with illogic to tout conservative, pro-industry frames and deny, distract, minimize, and otherwise delay action on climate catastrophe. They trigger a circular-referential frenzy, become the new darling of the month for corporate media, where it’s standard practice to provide support for the right of center position. Lomborg, Schellenberger and the rest of the Breakthrough boys continually repeat the same pattern, often using talking points apparently of their own devising and often using talking points from the Koch-Exxon-ALEC et al denying delayalist campaign.
Their arguments are ridiculous nonsense, debunked repeatedly in print and on the net, but they have money and media behind them so the lies just won’t die. They should be ignored, as they have no place in honest and informed discussions on matters of ecology and society.
I have often accused Jeffy of sniffing too much perfume from his sleeve hanky, but he is right on the money with this comment. Well said, Jeffy!—TJ would be proud.
Lomborg’s and Singer’s books were among the pile of denier BS that I checked out of my local library and kept renewing for over six months in order to keep them out of the hands of those seeking truth about AGW and its impacts. I didn’t have to return them sooner because not one request was ever made for any of them in all that time, but I finally did take them back because every time I looked at them on the shelf I was reminded of their contents and became sickened.
Bibliometrics should be used with care, but for what it’s worth here are the numbers from Scopus:
Mark Jacobson: 182 publications, 9656 citations, h=46
Bjorn Lomborg: 38 publications, 73 citations, h=3
Michael Shellenberger: 7 publications, 23 citations, h=2
James Hansen has 181 papers to his name, including
‘Kharecha, P.A., and J.E. Hansen, 2013: Prevented mortality and greenhouse gas emissions from historical and projected nuclear power. ‘
Barry Brook has 232, including
‘ Qvist SA, Brook BW (2015) Potential for Worldwide Displacement of Fossil-Fuel Electricity by Nuclear Energy in Three Decades Based on Extrapolation of Regional Deployment Data.’
Not sure how much they’re cited, but I’m going to sign out and check up
‘ Enhanced weathering strategies for stabilizing climate and averting ocean acidification’, Nature Climate Change, 2016,Lyla L. Taylor, Joe Quirk, Rachel M. S. Thorley, Pushker A. Kharecha, James Hansen, Andy Ridgwell, Mark R. Lomas, Steve A. Banwart & David J. Beerling.
Thanks for the tip on Scopus.
Most of Jacobson’s papers look like they are about things like aerosols, soot and atmospheric modeling. I understand he’s done a lot of work on black carbon, but that does not make him right about the world’s energy infrastructure.
He seems to have an irrational aversion to nuclear energy. I can see with my own eyes some of his wild speculations about energy. He’s famous for larding the carbon footprint of nuclear energy with soot from future nuclear wars. I first ran across him when he did his Scientific American study. He was talking about using hydrogen for storage and transportation. I’m sure it all sounds smart and sciency to Mark Ruffalo. It used to sound smart to me until I started reading about how impractical using hydrogen actually is. I dismissed Jacobson as a crackpot, and was amazed at the poor quality of the article. Has Jacobson learned anything since? He’s talking about cryogenic airplanes!
you’re gonna love part 2
Instead of part 2 and more navel-gazing, how about taking time out to go back to that word I keep shouting—-INDIA (along with COAL and CHINA). We keep talking about what 80+ million Germans are doing or (9 million Swedes or 8 million Danes), when the number of Indians in DEEP trouble over water issues exceeds the entire population of the United States.
This article describes a situation that is getting to be so extreme that it reads more like fiction than fact.
What is going to happen in China-South Asia-Southeast Asia as climate change impacts the snow pack and monsoons is far more significant than what Jacobson has to say about renewables and/or Germany.
Nearly half of all humans live in the region (along with ~500 nuclear warheads), and just because the western media is too busy promoting consumerism to report on the looming disaster doesn’t mean we should be ignoring it. Radioactive fallout WILL circle the globe.
Drought in India is something that Lomborg (seeing as Canman brought him up) is trying very hard not to notice. Lomborg is behaving rather like those of the late nineteenth century which have also been linked to El Niño conditions.
This is well outlined in Late Victorian Holocausts: El Niño Famines and the Making of the Third World.
From the blurb
discloses the intimate, baleful relationship between imperial [Lomborgian] arrogance and natural incident that combined to produce some of the worst tragedies in human history.
“I dismissed Jacobson as a crackpot, and was amazed at the poor quality of the article.”
Nobody here gives a flying **** about your opinion. Here is Dr Jacobson’s CV – read it:
You still think he is a “crackpot”? Prove it. Go write the opposite of a “poor quality” article in a peer-reviewed journal to rebut him.
Get back to us when you have published.
In the meantime, please STFU.
If we can indeed reduce energy requirements by 30% via electric efficiency, we’ll still need far more energy than what the world consumes now. Because the world is still developing, because a very large percent of it will need extra energy to desalinate water as warming diminishes glacier melt and causes more droughts, because energy might be needed to turn the excess co2 into limestone or into new soils and trees (at a vast continental scale), and because despite environmental concerns, ten billion people will just use more energy in general.
Is this why the video is a “crock”, because it is hard to fathom solar, wind and water to meeting the challenge?
After becoming aware of the vastness of it all, it’s no wonder that people who do the energy math want nuclear.
You’re going to love part 2
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