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Climate change notes 3

I think there is substantial evidence that the science of climate change is losing the public debate both in Australia and overseas.  George Monbiot argues that the loss is to aging suckers not sceptics who react to constant news of the dangers of climate change as they react to fears of death. As the scientific certainty concerning the effects of climate change has hardened the strength of denialism and the social death wish have strengthened. As Monbiot states ‘how the hell do you deal with this’?

Here are the truths about Arctic sea ice – seasonally it now almost vanishes contrary to prevailing false claims. Deltoid does a capable job too of demolishing the false claims of Janet Albrechtson that the sea level is not rising.  The Albrechtson line is so stupid that it would be reasonable to ignore it were the stakes not so high.

Generally I won’t refer to the views of crazy denialists in these notes but it is important to limit the spread of delusionism.  Here is a suggested marketing campaign to reduce it.  Reading between the lines one can see the reasons for the emergence of deluded anti-science views.  Of course the delusionists are themselves attempting to develop their own anti-science educational campaigns – this is a report on the activities of the Fraser Institute in Canada.

I was interested that the British will build 10 new nuclear power stations taking the percentage of electricity generated from this source to 25% compared to 13% at present by 2018.   France has been urging Australia to match France’s emphasis on nuclear fuels – a proposal I support and which is close to being supported by a majority of Australians.  Barry Brook provides an argument for Australia to follow the British lead. It is really important that it is understood that the Kerry-Boxer Bill in the US Senate offers the possibility of ending the hiatus on nuclear plant construction in the US

Readers of this blog can expect a lot more on this. Currently I am reading David Bodansky’s,  Nuclear Power: Principles, Practices and Prospects, 2nd edition 2004 which is very good. The set of notes – barely a book – by F. Miller, A.Vandome, J. McBrewster (eds), Nuclear Power, Alphascript 2009, is up-to-date but poorly organised.

Meanwhile hot global temperatures lie ahead as at least a moderate El Nino is forecast by NOAA.  World global temperatures are likely to hit a new peak.  I have not seen Australian reports related to this yet although higher temperatures are forecast on balance.

I liked this non-romantic article by Steven Chu – the US Secretary of Energy – who is a long-standing energy conservationist around his house because, as he says, he is ‘cheap’.  Nothing wrong with that – conservation and energy efficiency is all about eliminating waste.

Views on the likely prospects of an agreement in Copenhagen are everywhere. Here is an optimistic assessment of the US role.  The US role is necessarily decisive.

Bridges Weekly provides an excellent assessment of border tax measures and promises a week-by-week survey of negotiation positions in the lead-up to the UN meetings in Copenhagen. The G20 finance ministers have agreed to financial support for developing countries but have not answered the key questions of how much and who will pay.

The International Energy Agency has released their World Energy Outlook 2009. It provides a pessimistic assessment of the future without comprehensive action to control carbon emissions. An executive summary is here.  I’ll probably post on this – it contains numbers on levels of cutbacks necessary to hit a 450 ppm target. Useful  framing material for understanding Copenhagen and a boost to the numerical targeting of Stern that I previously discussed

Reference scenario. Under bau (business as usual) primary energy demand grows from 12,000 Mtoe (Million tonnes oil equivalent) to 16800 Mtoe from 2007-2030.  Most growth occurs via coal followed by oil and gas though oil remains the major fuel source.  All growth in demand comes from non-OECD countries with most extra oil supplies coming from OPEC.

Most increases  in coal and gas demands are based ion increased electricity demands additions to power-generation capacity total 4800 GW by 2030 almost 5 times the current capacity of the US. 28% of this increase occurs in China.  Coal provides 44% of capacity in 2030 compared to 41% in 2007.  Non-hydro renewables grow from 2.5 to 8.7%.

There is a major shortage of investment in oil and gas capacity.  This may evoke hefty price increases in the future. The financing needs are immense – $26 trillion in 2008 dollars or 53% of total investment.  Half of this investment is in developing countries.

There would be a rapidly growing dependence on fossil fuels with energy-related CO2 emissions having grown from 20.9Gt (Gigatonnes) in 1990 to 28.8 Gt in 2007 and with growth to 34.5Gt in 2020 and 40.2Gt in 2030 – an average growth of 1.5% per year from 2007-2030.   Of the 11.4 Gt increase in emissions from 2007-2030, ¾ comes from China (6 Gt) while India increases by 2 Gt and the Middle East 1Gt.

OECD emissions will experience a slight fall due to energy efficiency gains, use of nuclear fuels and renewables.  All major non-OECD countries see their emissions rise strongly.  

This would lead to CO2e concentrations in the atmosphere of 1000 ppm and temperatures increasing by up to 6oC.  This would cause irreparable damage to the planet.

450 ppm scenario.  This is consistent with a 50% chance of limiting temperature increases to 2oC.  It requires energy-related CO2 to peak at 30.9 Gt just before 2020 and to decline to 26.4 Gt by 2030 which is 13.2 Gt below the reference path level in 2030.

This assumes active mitigation policies in OECD+ countries (OECD plus non-OECD EU countries) after 2013 and active policies in all other major countries (China, Russia, Brazil, South Africa, Middle East) after 2013.

Average energy growth is 20% from 2007-2030 or annual growth of only 0.8%.

Fossil fuels remain the major source of energy in 2030 but the use of non-fossil fuels increases from 19% in 2007 to 32% in 2030.

Energy use efficiency gains provide more than half the total savings in CO2 to 2030.  The emissions intensity of new cars is more than halved while coal-based power generation is more than halved while electricity use itself is cut by 40%.

The 450 ppm scenario involves $10.5 trillion additional energy sector investment and energy0-related capital stocks compared top the reference scenario.  The use of natural gas will be crucial – increasing from 3 trillion cubic metres (tcm) in 2007 to 4.3 tcm in 2030.

A commentary on the IEA report is provided by Resources for the Future.

Finally, a telling piece on the Yangtze River Basin in China.  It is the home of 400 million people and the source of 41% of Chinese GDP. It is already suffering severe effects from climate change but things look likely to get much worse – this last link is interesting since this is how the issue was reported in China.  It is interesting that China Daily is publicising international proposals suggesting the necessity of a carbon tax for China before 2020 and for dramatic reductions in carbon intensities (85-90%) by 2050.

6 comments to Climate change notes 3

  • Paul Z.

    Please see this important news report by the Finnish Broadcasting Co. YLE, TV1 (Nov 11th 2009), in regards to the global warming debate:

    http://ohjelmat.yle.fi/mot/taman_viikon_mot/transcript_english

  • Some regions around the world are facing draughts where water used to flow and some are facing unprecedented floods. The direct impact is on the agriculture based regions because they are getting affected socio-economically – mostly in the poorer countries. Is this all due to Volcanic eruptions or man-made industrial establishments and toxic wastes. The world’s population has grown many a fold since the previous centuries and with it the consumption pattern has also grown. We are producing more food, electricity, cars, buildings than ever before. Yet we are still dependent on fossil fuels. This creating a huge imbalance and impacting the environment be it forests, trees, soil or water. Time to rethink and focus on curtailing man-made issues.

  • Matthew

    Harry

    Have you ever considered the option that that the way the believers argue their case is impacting on the acceptance of your views. At the risk of being accused of cherry-picking, I want to point out that when people like Clive Hamilton argue their case, they will call for the need to suspend the democratic process

    Even you have accused the sceptics of being delusional. To me, this comes across as suggesting that every one who holds a sceptical view is mentally deficient. Because of this I want to ask why should sceptics take your arguments seriously when we’re only going to feel insulted and threatened by them?

  • hc

    Tired old point of view Matthew. Those who base their views on rejecting science are not sceptics but losers. Everyone should maintain a sceptical attitude and be prepared to change their views but this does not mean becoming a sucker for non-science.

  • Matthew

    Harry

    That wasn’t the point I was trying to make. I’m not talking abut the science of climate change, rather the way it’s being debated. I always believe that the purpose of a debate is not to demonise the opposition but to convert them.

    I’ve always felt that a good debater should refrain from making personal remarks about their opponents. This is actually how I feel abut your comment abut how my beliefs are merely a ‘tired old view’. Because I feel that you are attacking me personally, I actually find it difficult to listen to the believers such as yourself.

    If you and your fellow believers want to convert sceptics to the believers point of view, then engage the sceptics without resorting to personal remarks. If you did use these strategies to begin with, you may not be in the situation where you are losing support.

    For the record, I believe global warming is real and that on the balance of probability CO2 emmissions will affect the earth’s climate. However I am concerned with the potential government failure that will arise if any solutions to this problem are implemented. Also I believe that bodies such as the IPCC have overstated the effect of CO2 emissions on the planet

    Also I know I’m only one man but I’m not an ageing sucker as I’m only 24

  • the climate change that we experience these days are caused by too much air pollutants _

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