By Chris Nelder
Posting in Design
The energy policies of President Obama and Mitt Romney offer two radically different directions into the future. Which one would take us into prosperity?
Radically different policies are not usually a feature of U.S. presidential campaigns, as it's usually a small percentage of centrist swing voters who decide the winner. Normally the platforms consist of bland generalities designed for maximum appeal, with only a few small differences to distinguish them. Not so in this election, with President Obama and former Governor Romney offering virtually opposite visions of our energy future.
To be sure, the Obama and Romney energy policies have much in common on the broad outlines. Both claim to support an "all of the above" approach. Both have high hopes for biofuels, and support nuclear power. Both aim for some form of "energy independence" through expanded domestic oil and gas production.
But they differ sharply in the details.
The 2012 Democratic National Platform, released yesterday, highlights President Obama's goal to generate 80 percent of our electricity from clean energy sources by 2035, an ambitious upgrade from the 25 percent by 2025 goal mentioned in the 2008 party platform. Romney's energy policy white paper, released two weeks ago, has no goals for the contribution of renewables; in fact, it scarcely mentions them at all. The word “renewable” appears just once in a favorable context, in a bland statement about its all-of-the-above strategy, while "solar" and "wind" mostly appear in negative contexts.
Obama wants to cut $40 billion over 10 years in tax breaks for oil and gas companies, but maintain tax incentives for renewables. Romney would do just the opposite, rolling back tax credits for renewables while keeping the incentives for oil and gas intact, inexplicably claiming that this would create a "level playing field."
The two key incentives for renewables are the 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour production tax credit, which has been responsible for the growth of the domestic wind industry, and the 30 percent investment tax credit for clean energy equipment, which has encouraged the growth of the solar industry. Both are set to expire at the end of this year. Romney is against both and would let them expire, while Obama has called on Congress to renew them.
Oil and gas
Romney's energy policy statement isn't a plan so much as a collection of quotes borrowing from recent oil and gas industry propaganda, with a smattering of text written by industry authors binding them together. It draws heavily on the Citigroup energy forecast I critiqued in April, and on another bullish oil forecast by Leonardo Maugeri, an oil company executive and senior fellow at a BP-funded center at Harvard, which I critiqued in July. Romney's paper mentions "oil” 154 times and “gas” 83 times, laying out an aspirational message about drilling our way to energy independence while heaping scorn on investments in renewables.
Obama is also a vocal supporter of natural gas, touting it as a cleaner-burning domestic fuel that can give us more energy security and cut into our oil imports. Sadly, he still repeats the industry's wild and unproven assertion that we have a 100-year supply of gas, which I debunked last December. He has also touted his administration's actions to open more lands to drilling than the George W. Bush administration did, and noted the increase in domestic oil and gas production that has occurred during his term (although, as I detailed in March, his policies had little to do with it.)
Where Obama's plan differs is in its repeated emphasis on conservation and eliminating "energy waste." It sees reducing our oil consumption as a key pathway to independence, by nearly doubling the auto fuel efficiency standard by 2025. Romney's paper does not contemplate fuel conservation or waste reduction at all, and the word "efficiency" appears just once, in a quote about GDP from the Citigroup report.
Romney's plan would "aggressively" open all federal lands and waters to drilling, except for National Parks and a few other currently restricted areas. He would approve the contentious Keystone XL pipeline "on Day One." In answers to questions posed by Scientific American and the grassroots organization ScienceDebate, Romney said he intends to pursue "a North American Energy Partnership so that America can benefit from the resources of its neighbors." It's unclear if he intends to simply annex Canada and Mexico in pursuit of U.S. "energy independence," or how his approach would differ substantively from the existing harmonious oil and gas trade between the three countries. Obama punted the decision on the Keystone XL pipeline until after the election, saying that more time was needed to assess its environmental impact, but did approve the southern portion of the pipeline in the spring. As for exploration leases in federal waters and lands, he seems content with the existing access.
Broadly, Romney's approach to oil and gas is exclusively supply-side, whereas Obama's emphasizes the demand side as well.
Although both Romney and Obama favor increased domestic oil and gas production, their views on regulation are very different.
"We will not back down from making sure an oil company can’t take the same reckless actions that led to the kind of oil spill we saw in the Gulf of Mexico two years ago," the Democratic platform asserts. "We will not back down from protecting our kids from toxic mercury pollution, or making sure that our food is safe and our water is clean."
But in Romney's view, regulation is a bad word and should be avoided wherever possible in favor of market-based mechanisms, or simply turned over to the states, which historically have been far more lenient toward resource extraction. "Laws should promote a rational approach to regulation that takes cost into account," his plan says. "Regulations should be carefully crafted to support rather than impede development." While Romney's rhetoric is no doubt appealing to voters in states heavily reliant on fossil fuel industry jobs, no one has asked him to explain how it would work in practice -- for example, how he would have dealt with the Gulf oil spill without imposing a temporary drilling moratorium or new regulations on deepwater drilling, as Obama did.
Romney's plan would reform "environmental statutes and regulations to strengthen environmental protection without destroying jobs, paralyzing industry, or barring the use of resources like coal." So if your job ruins the environment, it would be safe under a Romney administration.
The flip side of energy policy is, of course, climate policy, and here the two candidates also have opposite views.
Romney has recently hedged his position on climate change by saying that he believes the world is getting warmer and that human activity has contributed to that, but that he also thinks "there remains a lack of scientific consensus" about its extent, its risk, and the degree to which human activity is to blame. He no longer talks about the importance of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as he did during the GOP primaries, and he is firmly against having America take steps to reduce them without China doing so as well. Indeed, he would reverse recent U.S. progress on reducing emissions by eliminating Clean Air Act restrictions on them, citing his concern for coal industry jobs. His energy plan does not mention "climate change" or "global warming" at all. And in his speech last week at the Republican National Convention, Romney even joked about climate change: “President Obama promised to slow the rise of the oceans [pause for audience laughter] and to heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family.”
Climate change is no joke for the Democrats, however. Their platform calls it a "real, urgent, and severe" national security threat, "an economic, environmental, and national security catastrophe in the making." Further, the plan "affirm[s] the science of climate change" and declares that "Democrats will continue pursuing efforts to combat climate change at home. . . because reducing our emissions domestically -- through regulation and market solutions -- is necessary to continue being an international leader on this issue." Responding obliquely last week to Romney's joke, Obama quipped, “Denying climate change doesn’t make it stop.”
Apart from the rhetoric, the Obama plan remains short on details about how to address the climate change threat. It offers the tired and vague blandishments about building an international framework to address emissions, despite the obvious failure of recent international climate talks. His administration's new standards targeting coal plant emissions mainly apply to new plants, which aren't being built because they're uncompetitive with cheap natural gas. The cap-and-trade approach to emissions control that Obama once supported (as did Romney) is no longer on the table after being shot down by Senate Republicans in 2010. The Democratic platform emphasizes a 10-year plan to encourage "clean coal," but that technology is still in its infancy, with only demonstration plants under development. The available data on clean coal is not promising, because the emissions-scrubbing technology requires so much energy that the plant becomes uneconomical. As a policy strategy, clean coal seems more designed for political appeal than for actual emissions reductions.
America still does not have an energy plan, and neither Obama nor Romney have cured that potentially fatal flaw. Both have offered general directional strategies and political fodder, not anything you could call an actual plan.
But the directions they would take us in could not be more different, and their implications will echo long into the future.
If my best guess is correct, all fossil fuels will have peaked and gone into terminal decline around 2025-2030. We will have to be well along in the transition from fossil fuels to renewables before that, because after it, building big infrastructure projects will become progressively more difficult and expensive and the rate of deployment will slow considerably. We really have less than 20 years to get most of the job done. Since non-hydro renewables currently produce only about five percent of U.S. electricity, we'll have to be extremely aggressive about energy transition, starting right now, if we want to avoid the worst outcomes for our economy and our society as a whole.
President Obama's strategy is clearly the better of the two choices for meeting that challenge. My reading of recent academic research suggests that generating 80 percent of our electricity from renewables by 2035 might be technically and economically possible, if not likely in our political climate. But by 2050, we'll be grateful for every last kilowatt-hour we can produce from renewable free fuels. And the "debate" about climate change will be long gone, replaced by a frantic quest for survival and adaptation.
Governor Romney's energy strategy is painfully regressive and utterly blind to these clear and present dangers. It sounds like an energy policy from 1970, not 2012. Not only are his claims about our current energy situation wrong -- for example, citing U.S. oil production at 15 million barrels per day, according to the Washington Post, when the reality is 6.2 million barrels per day -- but his expectations for the future of oil are absurd, claiming "we" (meaning North America) will be producing over 23 million barrels per day eight years from now. That's more than the world's top two oil producers, Saudi Arabia and Russia, combined.
This is an unfortunate U-turn for Romney, who just two years ago wrote in his book: "But whether the peak is already past or will be reached within a few years, world oil supply will decline at some point, and no one predicts a corresponding decline in demand. If we want America to remain strong and wish to ensure that future generations have secure and prosperous lives, we must consider our current energy policies in the light of how these policies will affect our grandchildren." I could have given an enthusiastic thumbs-up to that Mitt Romney, but the current Mitt Romney has apparently surrendered to the policy wishes of his fossil-fuel industry donors completely and lost his head.
At least as far as energy policy is concerned, there isn't really a choice between the two candidates at all. One is leading us toward a semi-realistic future, while the other would leave us in the lurch as fossil fuels decline. And while it's true that elections are about more than energy issues, if energy becomes the biggest challenge of this century as I expect it will, then maybe that's all you really need to know.
Photo: Austen Hufford/Flickr
Sep 4, 2012
"""...citing U.S. oil production at 15 million barrels per day, according to the Washington Post, when the reality is 6.2 million barrels per day """ No, that Wa Post article does not state Romney made such a statement. H Transcripts are available as to what Gov Romney actually did say in the energy speech in Hobbs, NM, where he repeated referred to North America as an entity, and said, "Weâre producing in North America about 15 million barrels a day", about which the Governor was entirely correct. http://www.whatthefolly.com/2012/08/24/transcript-mitt-romney-presents-energy-plan-in-new-mexico/
Lets hope they finally set up an energy plan that takes into consideration the climate change and a renewable policy. IT solutions for renewables
Since the 1970's there have been dire predictions on running out of oil. It was supposed to happen in the 1990's when it didn't happen then the expected date was moved forward over and over again. There is no doubt that the amount of oil to be found is not endless but it seems their predictions are not connected with the real improvements in the technology of oil recovery. Global warming, excuse me climate change is now the buzz word of the tree huggers. It's real interesting to note that one of the present proponents of this put out a book in the 1970-80's that the next ice age was coming. Climate changes as a method for extracting money from the government is always a popular past time. Build a better crisis and the world will throw money at your feet. The crisis should be far enough in the future that today's changes can't be expected for immediate improvements but close enough that it strikes fear into the uninformed.
this article is written with bias. However, regardless of the stance, the President has failed to fulfill any of his promises, including in the area of conservation efforts. I would like to see action in a plan... not just words on paper...
I write about our energy future at 21st Century Tech blog and today I posted an article on the current state of cold fusion, the low-energy nuclear technology that never seems to get to market. What surprised me was Mitt Romney's view on cold fusion. See my posting at: http://www.21stcentech.com/cold-fusion-update-lots-hot-air-lenr-device/
Marketing ideas might work for fossil fuels, but for nuclear, there is such a strong NIMBY movement in this country that extraordinarily strong political leadership is needed to move to new nuclear plants for electricity. That aside, absent fossil fuel, wind, solar, and biofuels will only meet a tiny fraction of our energy needs. Of course, if nuclear power is plentiful, energy from those could be used to hydrolyze water for the hydrogen, and extract carbon from the atmosphere to create synfuel. This wouldn't be cheap, but it would be a lot better than reverting to horse travel.
Well, even if we omit any scientific proof it is pure logic that fossil energy including nuclear isn't endless and has to become more expensive. Also it is logical that today's larger companies need to focus on short or at most mid term profit, isn't it. Does anybody think that the big oil companies strategically care for the future of the next generation? Those who do get beaten by their competitors. That is the task of a government - to control the bigger forces of the economy and preserve the chances of a good life for future generations. If they are left without control the system would indeed regulate itself, but not through reason but through severe social conflicts and other catastrophes. Well, even if the world wide science society agrees on something there are forces that say there is a contrary scientific proof that some people will immediately belief in just if it is in favor for 'their demagogues'. It would indeed be great if scientific proof and even more important a transparency of the interconnections (www.imodeler.net) would make this world a better place but it is in our very nature that we follow the words of demagogues. Every country has at least two parties and two opinions on several topics but few countries have one party where almost all the rest of the world (media, people I meet on international, e.g. banking, conferences - even if they call themselves conservative) is wondering how stupid arguments can be and how stupid almost half of the country's population seems to be. In my latest book I gave an explanation how this could be possible ...
Here we go again. When are the people who control this site going to wake up and stop the idiots who want to use it as a base for expressing their political beliefs. We want facts and all we get with articles like this is someone's opinion of what someone might do when they get in office. Get off the politics and back to science.
Fascinating, how almost every US discussion in the internet is divided into those two opposing persuasions. Both sides - democrats and republicans - claim to have facts but not only seem the facts to be contradictory both sides lack to view at the broader picture, the interconnections. That is why I offer a model on the arguments found on the topic of energy policy: https://www.imodeler.info/ro?key=AZd58lmiCDR8wL7iZ6fZkHA Apart from that model would like to mention that it doesn't has to be for the environment's sake that we change energy policies - it is for pure economical reason. A few simple questions should work: 1. Cheap (fossil) energy saves jobs, right? 2. Will there be an end to cheap fossil energy? 3. What should our children or grandchildren (personally I think it will affect already me)use then? 4.Ah, so you are for renewables, too, but you think it takes more time and we need to be able to afford it? 4.1. What will make renewables less expensive? 5. Ah, you think there will be thorium or uranium to get rid of all problems? 5.1. Why aren't they used already if they are an inexpensive alternative? And so on. The US has its own fossil resources - Europe has too few of its own. No expert will dispute that it will become ever more expensive to drill for oil and gas. So Europe will next to interestingly China start developing the much needed technology for the future and the best that can happen is that the US is voting for republicans and the competitive edge goes to Europe (I live there :-). But it isn't that funny for Europe as well because as Chris N. mentioned every year that passes without progress means that it becomes more likely that economic activity will collapse with every cent we have to pay more for resources we have less to spend for things that create jobs. There lies the vicious cycle. Once started the whole economy will soon collapse (I have written about it in my books). Another argument: the costs of renewable energy and its technology today heavily depends on the costs of fossil energy. So if it is too expensive today to build solar panels it won't become cheaper tomorrow. But if you compare the effect of subsidies for fossil energy with that of renewable energy you have to take into account that the 'fuel' for renewables comes in most cases for free - it is not the MW installed, it is to total cost per megawatt over a facility's lifespan. A Chinese saying: Dig a well when you have the power not when you are thirstily!
I WILL BE HONEST NONE OF THESE PEOPLE CAN DO MUCH FOR THE USA. ALL THESE FAKE PROMISES ARE JUST GETTING PEOPLE MAD. YOU REALLY WANT TO HELP THE ECONOMY HAVE ALL THESE PARASITES WORK FOR THE BENEFITS THEY GET FOR FREE. YOU WANT FOOD STAMPS, MEDICAID, WIC , WELFARE AND SECTION 8, YOU MUST WORK FOR IT AT A LOCAL HOSPITAL , SHELTER OR CLEANING PARKS ETC. THESE POLITICIANS ARE ABUSING THE WORKING CLASS AND THE IRS IS A GOVERNMENT MAFIA. FIX THIS MESS. ALSO DO MORE ABOUT THESE IMMIGRANTS COMING HERE FOR ALL THESE WHAT THEY CALL FREE BENEFITS.
Is this "SmartPlanet" or a blog featuring the talking points of the DNC? Personally, I find the politicizing of energy a very serious and dangerous pursuit. Man made global warming has been fairly well debunked and the latest energy "policies" have been nothing more than land grab equivalents and payoffs to political cronies. Let the free markets decide and stay away from my lightbulbs.
Sixty cents of every Federal tax dollar goes to "defense". Is this considered a subsidy to keep the price of oil low? If not, please explain. If so, what percentage of defense spending can be attributed to "oil subsidies"? With the media so hungry to soak up the dollars floating around from the fossil fuel industry and from the pro-Romney PACs, how will the industries that don't yet exist but provide capitalistic competitionever get a foothold or a voice? If one looks at the supply/demand curve isn't it apparent that scarcity breeds profits, even if the scarcity is fabricated? And what about the scarcity of resource options for future generations we are sinking human civilization into; when will we begin to look at the destruction of the environment as a debt we are passing onto our children that is much larger than any fiscal debt?
Carlos F Zavala Please review and comment on: http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Pitfalls-Fossil-Fuels-Based-Economic-3227636.S.123004383?qid=92806303-c67c-4bbe-8314-a02c9a522a95&trk=group_items_see_more-0-b-ttl There is some important information I've provided that can both revitalize the US economy and provide guidance on the conundrum of long term environmental sustainability in the face of the economic pressure to exploit our resources. It's a long slog and some conservatives have thrown everything they have at it. But I am convinced I speak more truth than they do, though I admit they may have some important points to consider.
That is one of many points of energy efficiency that could be gained with relatively low effort compared to some of the other wild proposals that keep coming up to expand our energy production. Of course implementing a plan like that would take the kind of long term planning and fore thought that politicians do not like because it does not buy votes right now.
Regardless of who will be the next president, it is very important we understand the use of alternative energy. There are some very simple measures that can save almost 45 to 50% energy. In particular solar thermal is a well known technology. Any industry which uses hot water (hotels, motels, commercial laundry, army barracks, poultry industry, alcohol industry, large apartment complexes and the list goes on), should seriously consider installing solar thermal. Besides solar thermal assisted dehumidifiers have done a great job in reducing the A/C demand by almost 35 to 40%. The PCM (phase change materials) have revolutionized the length of time water being kept hot or cold making the solar thermal technology even more attractive. Countries like Puerto Rico where there is no natural gas and electricity is the only way out,the cost of electricity is 3 to 4 times what we pay on the East coast. Here we calculated that the ROI will be as little as 4 years(without any tax credit) to recoup all the money spent upfront and make a decent profit for almost 15 years. Recently we visited a US government facility. They brought in outside air at 80 to 90*F at almost 80% relative humidity. This was chilled to 45*F to remove the moisture! It was then reheated using hot water (large commercial boilers which break down within 4 to 5 years due to over working) to 65*F!! Talk about waste of energy and tax payer money. They can easily install solar thermal to heat the huge amount of water, install solar thermal assisted dehumidifiers and reheat using solar thermal heat. The savings calculated was almost 55 to 60%. Lo and behold, they would rather continue to do what they are doing now and keep changing the boilers every 5 to 7 years. Talk about rank stupidity.. Educate, educate, educate.....
Sid Abma says: "The EIA states that in 2012 America consumed 17.5 Trillion cu.ft of natural gas for industry and commercial buildings and the power plants. Guess to how much was wasted (40% ?) blown up chimneys across the country as HOT exhaust into the atmosphere. Why does our governments and industry still allow this to happen?" and: "The technology of Condensing Flue Gas Heat Recovery is designed to recover this energy from these exhaust gases, so that it again be utilized back in the building or facility." Er, could it, just possibly, be something to do with economics? Like the power stations not all being conveniently near the places that could do with the heat - and long distance lossless pipes still being a dream of the future? Duh!
...but reasoned discussion has long gone out of the window on the issue of energy, economics and climate science, where political affiliation is now the the sole determining factor of one's facts, on the comment boards.
radio.va7dh says... "Another thing which has not been tried but has some merit is power from the interaction of the earth and Sun's magnetic fields. The scale would be large and probably require countries to work together." It's great to hear about this new breakthrough. As an electrical engineer, I obviously haven't been keeping my ear to the ground (or should it have been to the sky?) so I have missed out on hearing about it. We should get the IPCC onto it - they are great at getting countries to work together. So why don't you just knock up a prototype and report back? I won't hold my breath, though, if you don't mind. And while I am waiting I will continue to point out that coal, gas and nuclear do the job extraordinarily well.
Were I Romney I would not waste my time preparing numerous plans needed by the country to get back to a good and strong path forward until elected. Otherwise Mr. Obama would glean all kinds of grand schemes from what Romney published. Next if Mr. Obama as President has an "Energy Plan" why has not the darn thing alread been put in place rather than waiting until this moment to say looky-looky I have a plan? Because someone that works for him just finished writing something. You really think some darn fool lawyer that has never had a real job in his life could prepare a meanigful Energy Plan or a Business Plan for that matter?
First off, I feel that Obama has failed to have a coherent energy policy during his term. Throwing money at renewable energy companies because their management helped fund his 2008 campaign is not a good policy for the nation. Which is strike 1 against him. With that stated, any energy policy implemented by either candidate cannot drive a majority of the US population into poverty for the sake of saving the planet. Obamas other attempt at an energy policy, cap and trade, would have added an average $1,200 in punitive fossil fuels taxes per person per year for necessities like heating, electricity and transportation. The average American family of 3 cannot afford $3,600 a year which is why most democrats in Congress opposed the president on that one. Strike 2. Forgetting the ridiculous argument against CO2 for a moment, I will say that clean energy sources are needed to reduce real pollution in the world. All developed nations, including China, India and Brazil, need to follow the same rules as the western nations if the planet is to be saved. Allowing some of the most populous nations on the planet to escape the rules is negating any positive impact western anti-pollution rules might have. Allowing them to keep polluting while having the EPA crack down on CO2 emissions is strike 3. Clean energy cannot place all of the financial burden of its implementation on the average lowly citizen. Be it punitive taxes on petroleum products or overly expensive wind and solar projects, you cannot punish the average citizen for needing a way to get to work or wanting lights or heat in their homes. A competent energy policy needs at least 2 focus points. Improving the efficiency of energy consumption and lowering the cost of clean energy. The first is obvious. Reduce energy consumption with the hope that new energy uses will not outpace efficiencies gained. We need to reduce or eliminate the need for new power generation capacity. The second goal is the hard one for many clean energy proponents to swallow. Clean energy needs to become synonymous with cheaper energy. Fossil fuels will gradually become more expensive as they becomes scarce. There is no need to force it with punitive taxes against the poor and middle class who cannot afford it. We need to focus on making clean energy technology more affordable to the consumer. Reduced installation costs, reduced operating costs, reduced rates to pass on to the consumer. Clean energy needs to improve people lives. Not break people. Cleaner air and water + lower cost of living = a better standard of living for all.
America with hydraulic fracturing now has the possibility of Energy Security and Energy Independence. The EIA states that in 2012 America consumed 17.5 Trillion cu.ft of natural gas for industry and commercial buildings and the power plants. Guess to how much was wasted (40% ?) blown up chimneys across the country as HOT exhaust into the atmosphere. Why does our governments and industry still allow this to happen? The technology of Condensing Flue Gas Heat Recovery is designed to recover this energy from these exhaust gases, so that it again be utilized back in the building or facility. Natural gas is "our" fuel source that can be consumed to almost 100% energy efficiency. Instead COOL exhaust would be vented into the atmosphere. Natural gas can be consumed so efficiently that the WATER can be recovered out of the combusted exhaust gases, and this distilled water is very usable.
The west, Canada and the US, both need to work on renewable resources as well as look for more petrochemical reserves. It's not just one or the other. Also, ethanol production must never ever be considered as a renewable resource. To do that is to court long term disaster. If you rely on ethanol you are mining the soil and eventually destroying potential to raise food crops. There are not enough fertilizers to keep going and so farmers, agro business, have to depend upon chemical fertilizers which after a while create heavily salted land and turn it into a desert. Don't believe that? If you don't then you better do some research and don't look to Dow or Monsanto for facts, they are merely in business to make money for shareholders. What's left then? Solar, wind, and ocean currents. Not tidal power, that has already shown to be a disaster in itself because it disrupts the natural ecology of the coast line and inlets where tidal power would work. Ocean currents can be used to run large undersea turbines to generate power. The infrastructure is big and costly but when in place can work with little maintenance and it is not something that works at a high enough speed to injure fish. Another thing which has not been tried but has some merit is power from the interaction of the earth and Sun's magnetic fields. The scale would be large and probably require countries to work together. The only oil used for such things is for plastics and lubricants. No combustion.
Chris Nelder's embarrassingly transparent anguish is based on two false presumptions: (1) The world is running short of energy resources (2) The world is warming alarmingly due to man-made CO2 emissions If neither of these propositions turns out to be true, the whole enviro-driven house-of-cards collapses. We could then stop having all the pointless marginal arguments about subsidies here and boondoggles there. And the democratic nations of the world could finally get on with the real job facing the 21st Century: improving the prosperity and wellbeing of human societies everywhere and, yes, protecting much more effectively the environment for all mankind. To suggest that the world is running short of energy resources is simply ludicrous. In the short term, coal and gas, and in the long term nuclear fission fuel, is all in plentiful enough supply to see us through several centuries. And that is assuming there are no other new technology breakthroughs in the next 100 years, such as nuclear fusion. So Nelder and his fellow travelers badly need the second presumption to be true - otherwise the whole gravy train comes to a grinding halt. For 30 years or more the enviros have been playing the CO2 game very skilfully. But in recent years they have been slowly losing traction as the public has finally come to realise that it is all just a scam cooked up by financial interest groups. Anyone with half a scientific training can see through it. Just look at the published temperature record of the last 150 years: the earth's mean temperature is going up at the rate of 0.4degC per hundred years. Yes, really, that is all that is happening. But of course none of the enviros will face up to real data because they have a mission to achieve. It is all just a bad case of the Emperor's New Clothes... Fortunately the political system is now finally showing signs of responding to the concerns of ordinary voters. Hence Romney's stance. The same political process is slowly but surely under way in Europe as people over here also ask why their electricity bills are skyrocketing. We have worked out the absurdities of wholly uneconomic wind farms that produce derisory amounts of electricity at huge installed cost, and solar panels that have proved to be less-than-useless in northern latitudes. And we have looked out of the window and simply observed an ever-changing natural climate - up and down, as of old. Hooray for the democratic process.
This current flip-flop of Romney's (just one among many) seems to have come AFTER his shoe-in as the GOP nominee and AFTER his meeting with superpac mega-contributors like the Koch brothers and other big oil power players. Romney knows what side his bread is buttered on. Act accordingly, voters.
I lost track of the decimals, instead of ten billion, is should be 100 million. Sorry, but it does not change my conclusions.
...that at some point it wasn't about "politics". IMHO, this site has always been about statist ambitions and crony capitalism.
Global Warming, Global Cooling, all things "Green", Politically Correct New Tech, All of these things should answer your questions. But, this is still a site where we can find things that are unusual. Just remember the politics of the site. So, take the blogs with a grain of salt. Economics still determines what wins. But yes, this site DOES worship at the alter of Saint Al Gore. As an adult, you are supposed to be able to sift the gold from the sand. They have both.
You say "Man made global warming has been fairly well debunked" and yet many of the predicted effects of global warming continue to happen often at a rate greater than predicted. So what's your explanation for those effects?
If you look at the US Federal Budget, you will find that the DOD gets only about 28 Cents out of each Federal Dollar. The single biggest cut is Debt Servicing. Second is 'Entitlements' (Welfare, Social Security, Pensions and a few other things). Defense is third. Some sorces will, depending on where various programs are placed, might reverse the first and second, but Defense was still third, and this was before Obama cut the size of the Armed Forces in half. In this years figures, Defense might just be fourth. Sorry, but your figures are not from a reputable source.
[i]Sixty cents of every Federal tax dollar goes to "defense".[/i] And out of what hat did you pull that imaginary figure? Hyperbole like that discredits anything else you might have to say. If only. At least we'd be closer to full employment that we are under the entitlement state, which is where the "sixty cents" really goes.
for such a facility, I would recommend solar cooling. A good solar collector can heat up air and rock to around 90 C. That is enough to drive an ammonia cycle refrigeration system. The cold air can be re-heated with the waste heat from the ammonia system. Basically, how this works is that water with ammonia is heated, and the ammonia is driven off. The, the water is cooled down to ambient temperature. The water and ammonia are then re-introduced. This is an endothermic reaction, and cools the water by quite a lot. The cold water is then circulated to cool the air. The now warmer water/ammonia mixture is then routed back to the hot end, and the process starts all over again. This is how gas powered refrigerators work. It's an old process. Still, what the Federal Building you looked at is doing is less expensive. There is a lot of equipment required for a solar based system. Solar also has severe corrosion problems in many areas. Sometimes, the life cycle analysis gives the 'efficient' or 'green' solutions a much higher resource usage than just burning a little more fuel gives. It's a complicated question.
you are talking about heat recovery. Co-generation facilities have been doing this for several decades. But, the total waste heat gained is not great. Yes, utilities can do so, if there is a need. Some Cities have downtown pipelines for distribution of hot and cold water, with the source being a nearby small generation facility. There are also a few industrial facilities that can use waste heat at higher temperatures. Those usually have circulating hot oil. This gives temperatures of up to a couple of hundred degrees C. Higher temperatures than that require an on site heat source. Most of the gains for this type of thing are limited and local. About half of what could be reasonably done is already being done. It takes a good cost/benefit analysis to find if it is worth it for any single facility. You can't be very far from the heat source. Payback is usually required to be less than 7 years. 3 years for some industries.
Everyone is shopping for answers. Shopping for answers is like asking your mother if you can go to a friend's house and then asking your father if your mother said "no".
Well, jwknight, you apparently have not been paying attention. Obama cannot get any co-operation from the Republicans to get much done. They do not want to help America, only themselves. What a bunch of useless morons. Shame on people for electing these idiots.
During this presidential season Mr. Romney has denounced virtually all of the policies he enacted when he was governor of Mass and policies in which he stood for. He's just another example of a politician who's been bought. Romney advocates more oil and coal consumption, more drilling and oil spills, more air pollution, lung and other cancers, and more environmental damage. Despite his rhetoric concerning North American energy independence, the United States will still be just as dependent on Middle East crude as it is now. Not exactly a part of the world that loves America.
Is Obama also not aware "of what side is bread is buttered on"? Has his energy policy been the least bit consistent, or even existent? Or will we have to wait until after his election when he has "more flexibility" to find out what it really is?
Scientific consensus does not support what CSouthard contends is common sense. What used to be common sense is not that common anymore, but science sometimes has to fly in the face of common sense. That CO2 at a few hundred ppm in the atmosphere can in fact substantially alter the climate is well documented physics, because of its very high absorbance of certain wavelengths. That the complex feedback of atmospheric composition and temperature is governed by numerous factors is also well accepted. As someone who works intimately with the petroleum industry, and has been cautious about adopting a scientific consensus view from a field apart from my own, I also consider it fairly clear from data I first saw in Alaska in the 1980s that the current warming, evident in wellbore temperature profiles in the Arctic, does in fact coincide well with the increasing output of old carbon from human activity. We currently return that carbon to the atmosphere at one billion times the rate at which it was deposited over tens to hundreds of millions of years. As a geologist I have seen the calculations, and they are both rational and scientific. It is not unreasonable to conclude that the increase of about 100 ppm in atmospheric CO2 cannot reasonably be achieved under current conditions without both anthropogenic and natural forcings. An increase of 5 ppm per year, as reported by Mr. Southard is a remarkably large increase, given that every decade it increases the CO2 content by 15-20%. Brief rapid increases have occurred in geologic time, under unusual circumstances, and they provide useful models for what is happening now due to anthropogenic inputs of old carbon. Unfortunately, Mr. Southard's view is not becoming the main stream, but the rear guard. Increasingly, the arguments of this scientific opposition take on the form of creationist arguments against evolution - citing of long refuted arguments, concentration on uncertainty, ad hominem attacks on participants. I am not a fan of the Obama administration actions on oil and gas, as they run counter to the high rhetoric of the policy, and support cutting modest but useful tax benefits to one industry, while supporting much larger (in cost per unit energy delivered - as noted by John McGrew) for another, but am not in love with the Republican pronouncements of support for all, but avoidance of legitimate government support for research and development in both fossil and renewable fuel. Jeremy Boak, Director Center for Oil Shale Technology and Research Colorado School of Mines Viewpoints expressed are mine, not positions of the Colorado School of Mines.
Much of the data was manufactured while many other factors were ignored. While we know that the earth goes through periodic warming and cooling cycles the fundamental question is whether man's habitation has an impact on these processes. The answer has yet to be demonstrated. Much if not all of the current temperature increases parallel increases in solar output and have little if anything to do with your car. The only constant in the earth's surface temperature is change. So relax, keep on learning, and be a good steward instead of a lemming.
Additional trivia: At current rates of growth, we will soon be paying more in interest payments to China that we do on the entire DOD. We will literally be funding China's military at a greater amount than our own. How long do you think that will work out well for us?
Obama had controlling majorities in both houses of Congress his first 2 years. Including a filibuster proof majority in the Senate. If they knew what they were doing they could have passed any legislation they wanted to. The problem was with the poor leadership from Obama, Reid and Pelosi. They could not get a majority of their own party members on board with their plans. Quick update. Apparently Bob Woodward, Watergate fame, has a book coming out blasting the democrat leadership. At one point he details how the President went into a rambling lecture while on a debt conference call with Pelosi. She is reported by witnesses to have muted her side of the call and let him drone on for almost an hour while her and Reid tried to work on the issue. http://money.cnn.com/2012/09/06/news/economy/woodward-debt-ceiling/index.html So please forget blaming republicans. It sounds like a child whining or fingernails on a chalkboard. The situation is so bad within the democrat party that they have failed to even pass a budget during Obamas term in office. The crowning glory of it was Obamas 2012 budget going down by a 99 to 1 vote in the Senate with guess who being the only supporter. Not a single democrat supported it even though they had an easy majority and could have passed it. Even after Teddy Kennedy died to get past any filibuster they only need to convince 1 republican to join them. Republican moderate Scott Brown (R-MA) is that reasonable person. He has been voted the 1st or 2nd most bipartisan member of Congress for 2011 by nearly every honest policy tracking organization. Even now they just have to convince 4 republicans to vote with them. Recently Brown and Snowe have been very compromising. Leadership gets their votes and quits trying so they can blame republicans. Face it. Obama is a piss poor leader if he cannot convince his own people and 1 lone republican to support him on a budget bill. So blaming republicans is just a poor excuse for bad leadership. Please give up that sad argument.
I'm sure Barack Obama knows which side his bread is buttered too. Although his energy policies are at least somewhat progressive, they aren't totally regressive as in the case of Mr. Romney.
JeremyBoak, Director, Center for Oil Shale Technology and Research, Colorado School of Mines says... "That CO2 at a few hundred ppm in the atmosphere can in fact substantially alter the climate is well documented physics, because of its very high absorbance of certain wavelengths. That the complex feedback of atmospheric composition and temperature is governed by numerous factors is also well accepted." and... "We currently return that carbon to the atmosphere at one billion times the rate at which it was deposited over tens to hundreds of millions of years. As a geologist I have seen the calculations, and they are both rational and scientific." and... "It is not unreasonable to conclude that the increase of about 100 ppm in atmospheric CO2 cannot reasonably be achieved under current conditions without both anthropogenic and natural forcings. An increase of 5 ppm per year, as reported by Mr. Southard is a remarkably large increase, given that every decade it increases the CO2 content by 15-20%." My jaw dropped open. Complete twaddle - and from a geologist at a School of Mines, no less. The scientific method is not his strong point, apparently. Firstly, the idea that a few hundred ppm of CO2 can substantially alter the climate is not settled science. To the contrary, the radiative transfer theory is highly controversial. And crucially (although presumably this is not considered relevant by Jeremy Boak's flavour of scientific practice) it is a hypothesis that has not been borne out by the facts. Since 1850, when good instrumental temperature measurements began, the world mean surface atmospheric temperature has increased at an average rate of only 0.4degC per HUNDRED YEARS - and for the last 15 years it has not increased at all. So all the predictions of alarming global warming have come to naught. Science bows to good data if the data contradicts an unproven hypothesis. And not the other way round, as any good scientist should know. Secondly, to say that we are returning CO2 to the atmosphere at "one billion times the rate at which it was deposited" is just scurrilous emotive nonsense worthy only of the worst kind of pathological environmentalist. It does not inform the debate one jot, which should be about when fossil fuels (coal, gas, oil, uranium, etc.) are going to run out (the answer being several hundred years). Thirdly, if he had bothered to check Mr Southard's figure of 5ppm per year increase he would have found it is completely wrong. The actual increase in atmospheric CO2 over the past 40 years has been almost completely linear at a rate of 1.5ppm per year. So at that rate over the next 88 years to the year 2100, there will be an additional 117 parts per MILLION of CO2 in the atmosphere. Excellent for plants. Completely non-toxic to humans. And historians will be laughing out loud at the gullibility of (some of) their ancestors.
These debates always seem to center around CO2. But, CO2 is just not a very good greenhouse gas. A much better greenhouse gas is water vapor. Methane is also up there, each at well over 10 X the warming effectiveness of CO2. Oh, and good old chlorofluorocarbon, (Freon) is way up there, with well over a thousand times the effectiveness of CO2 for warming. Even solar variability has more impact than CO2. Oh, and SO2 is also more powerful than CO2, especially when water vapor is present. It's really a quite complex subject.
[i] Much if not all of the current temperature increases parallel increases in solar output...[/i] That's pretty funny. If anything average solar output has been declining slightly since the 1950's.
Do tell. Exactly what is the difference between the two policies beyond the fact that you seem to agree with one and disagree with the other? They're both driven by ideology, and in Obama's case campaign contributions. How is Romney's different? (Other than that he hasn't yet had the opportunity to dispense subsidies to his energy pals)
Cosserat, It's fine for us to make an intellectual agreement to revisit this in 2020 to look at the data again. But in the meantime, if you are incorrect, the results will be quite disastrous in that the continued GHG emissions for another 8 years will make the atmospheric carbon pool large enough to in all probability create climatic havoc for hundreds if not thousands of years before natural or human influences can sequester enough carbon again to make a return to pre-industrial levels. Just as a general on the battlefield has to go on incomplete information, experience, hunches and a little luck, human societies are going to have to take action before all the evidence is in on the exact forcing dynamics of climate change is completely understood. Therefore, it seems wisest to aggressively pursue reduced carbon emissions now while we have a chance to impact the processes, backing off later if and only if your predictions, however unlikely they are, turn out to be correct. Doing nothing now will not provide us an option to start that process in 2020 as you suggest would be possible if you are wrong. Such dallying could be unfortunate at best, catastrophic at worst.
Hi Klassman and Riverat, Yes, the temperature record COULD go either way from now on, especially if our trustworthy 'climategate' friends at the University of East Anglia manage to RETROFIT THEIR STATISTICS. If the temperature continues to go up alarmingly, as predicted by Hansen etc., you will be right and there will be a serious problem. If, as I believe will happen, it stays within the dotted red 'tunnel' lines on my graph, exhibiting a RELATIVE downturn over the next 10-20 years, with a continuing long term average rise of only 0.41degC per CENTURY, then climate alarmism will be dead in the water. I know which I'm going to bet on. So, see both you guys back for a rain check in 2020... All the best.
[i]If the trend has drifted upwards alarmingly by 2020, it will be game set and match to the alarmists. But if, as many now believe, the trend is downwards...what then will the alarmists do for a living?[/i] Well, so far the discernible trend is upward so good luck with that.
Thank you klassman6. I was debating whether to take the time to respond to cosserat but you did it for me. I would like to point out that his TTACC site is using HadCRUT3 data and not the new HadCRUT4 product that does a better job of including the polar regions. HadCRUT4 pretty much agrees with GISS now.
klassman6 here, and I can't let you and riverat1 have all the fun. Your wild assertions are just too irresistable to ignore! First of all, your charting is of the HADCRUT data, instead of the GISS data, which automatically reduces the amount of global temperature anomalies due to the fact that the HADCRUT dataset under-represents the arctic temperature increases due to the paucity of data collection sites in the arctic, an area where the greatest surface temps are taking place. You talk about how there is only .4C degree per century increase knowing fully well that the rate is increasing over time, not just merrily oscillating away as you selectively define your mathematical description on your website. For instance, 2/3 of the warming from 1880 until the present has occurred since 1975, and global temps in the past decade was about .8C degrees warmer than the 1880-1920 mean. The decadal increases since the 1970s has been between 0.15 and 0.2C degrees. link: http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/docs/2010/2010_Hansen_etal.pdf And then there's the statement about CO2 ppm not being very much, which you correctly attribute the annual average during the last decade as being only 1.8ppm/year, not 3. What you then fail to say is that in the 50s and 60s the annual increase was less than 1ppm/year, or less than half of what it has been for the past 10 years. Finally, I want to just remind you that your descriptive fit of curve for a relatively short historical duration is just that--a descriptive fit. It has no powers of attribution, is limited in its predictive power (I might say that the earliest section of the temperature curve does not fit your 67 year average anyway), and gives us no insight on the other preponderance of data in all other areas where scientists are monitoring changes attributable to climate change. I know that not of the above will persuade you, either, but, like I said, I couldn't resist!
riverat1, The only thing you say that is correct is that uranium is not a fossil fuel. Of course I should have said that it is a non-renewable energy resource along with the fossil fuels. Let me now challenge each of your other points in turn: (1)"If you removed all CO2 from the air the average temperature on the Earth would rather quickly drop below freezing." That is a HYPOTHESIS that needs to be tested against real world DATA. The only practical test is to see if man-made CO2 has raised the world mean temperature alarmingly since the beginning of the industrial revolution, a period during which it is widely accepted by almost everyone that the atmospheric concentration of CO2 has risen by around 40%. So if removing all the CO2 from the atmosphere would cause a drop of 33degC (a figure that is widely claimed), increasing it by 40% since 1750 should presumably have shown up by now as a really alarming temperature rise, of lets say at least 10 degrees! The FACT is that there isn't any sign in the temperature record of significant warming, just a very unalarming natural variation (see below). (2)"I don't see how you can say the average rate of temperature increase per century is 0.4C when the increase since 1900 has been a bit over 0.8C." I can say it because it is true. See: http://www.thetruthaboutclimatechange.org/tempsworld.html The blue linear regression line shows a long term linear trend since 1850 of 0.41degC per century over the full 161 year period. The only way you got your figure of 0.8degC (a rise of 0.7deg/century) is by choosing a conveniently shorter period, thus exaggerating the contribution from the upswing that occurred between 1970 and 2000 - an upswing that got the alarmists in a dither and the whole man-made global warming bandwagon under way. You could have chosen an even shorter period. How about 1970 to 2011 - a whopping 1.5degC/century warming? Or I could have chosen the period from 1940 to 1980 - a negligible 0.01degC/century warming. It's called cherry picking. It is NOT SCIENCE. Of course, the 1970 to 2000 upswing has now ceased, and is most likely going to be trending down for the next 25 years. But, instead of bringing happy smiles of relief to the faces of the alarmists, this has got them into even more of a dither as they see their radiative transfer HYPOTHESIS being slowly but surely negated by FACTS. (3)"And I don't see how you can claim there hasn't been any warming in 15 years when the warmest years on record were 2005 and 2010 and the 10 warmest years on record have all occurred since 1998." You really know the warmist film script off by heart don't you. Just take a look at the grey plot between 1998 and 2010 on the temperature graph I linked to above. I will leave it to readers to decide just what level of nonsense you are talking. By the way, since there has been an entirely unalarming natural rising temperature trend of 0.4degC per century for at least the last 200 years, OF COURSE the temperature record will be broken (unalarmingly) every few years. Duh! (4)"The atmospheric CO2 curve is not strictly linear but has curved upwards over time. The current rate is closer to 3 ppm/year than 1.5 ppm/year." Well here are some FACTS. The Mauna Loa rate-of-CO2-increase figures for each of the last 10 years in ppm/year are as follows: 2.1, 2.5, 1.7, 2.3, 2.1, 1.8, 1.9, 1.8, 1.8, 2.4, 1.8. I calculate that to be an average rise of 1.8ppm/year. I will leave it to the more mathematically inclined reader to decide whether 1.8ppm/year is nearer to my 1.5ppm/year than it is to your 3.0ppm/year. (5)"Scientists have estimated with BAU that we will have doubled CO2 from the starting 280 ppm to 560 ppm sometime in the 2070's." Ah! "Scientists have estimated..." It seems that futurism is all that warmists have left since the FACTS have inconveniently started pointing in the opposite direction. But the real point is that the exact rate of CO2 rise doesn't matter anyway - because the FACTS of the temperature record show that CO2 does not appear to be affecting temperature significantly, if at all. I know that none of the above will persuade you. But as I have said many times to you in our encounters over the last couple of years, let's just wait and see which of us is right by 2020. If the trend has drifted upwards alarmingly by 2020, it will be game set and match to the alarmists. But if, as many now believe, the trend is downwards...what then will the alarmists do for a living? Cheers.
[i]Firstly, the idea that a few hundred ppm of CO2 can substantially alter the climate is not settled science.[/i] Cosserat, if you removed all CO2 from the air the average temperature on the Earth would rather quickly drop below freezing. I don't see how you can say the average rate of temperature increase per century in 0.4C when the increase since 1900 has been a bit over 0.8C. And I don't see how you can claim there hasn't been any warming in 15 years when the warmest years on record were 2005 and 2010 and the 10 warmest years on record have all occurred since 1998. Yes, 5 ppm/year was overstated but the atmospheric CO2 curve is not strictly linear but has curved upwards over time. The current rate is closer to 3 ppm/year than 1.5 ppm/year. Scientists have estimated with BAU that we will have doubled CO2 from the starting 280 ppm to 560 ppm sometime in the 2070's. BTW, uranium is not a fossil fuel but I'm sure you knew that.
I've heard scientists say CO2 is the big control knob on climate. Water vapor is an important greenhouse gas and it does cause more greenhouse warming than CO2 but it's not something we can control. Over 70% of the Earth's surface is covered by oceans that freely evaporate water into the air controlled primarily by temperature. Since water vapor is controlled by temperature it can not drive temperature. Of the other greenhouse gases you mention it's true that many of them are more effective greenhouse gases than CO2 but their concentration in the atmosphere is so low compared to CO2 that they can almost be ignored with the possible exception of methane. And even methane oxidizes to CO2 and water vapor within 10-20 years so it the long run it's just more CO2. CO2 more than any other greenhouse gas is the primary controller of Earthly temperatures (after accounting for solar input).
...but it's politically valuable because it's the one that industrialization is allegedly responsible for deploying in significant qualities. It's the rhetorical weapon of choice of today's anti-capitalists and redistributionists.
Trouble with your theoretical argument is that it just doesn't stack up against the facts. CO2 is the only relevant gas (and that is only if you believe in radiative transfer theory which many do not - it is highly controversial) because it is the only gas that is being added to the atmosphere at a significant rate.