A global warming argument the skeptics and doomsayers can agree on

Discussion in 'Fred's House of Pancakes' started by PriuStorm, Nov 15, 2007.

  1. PriuStorm

    PriuStorm Senior Member

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  2. swfoster2

    swfoster2 New Member

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    Thanks for sharing this with us. Do you know who that guy is?
     
  3. TimBikes

    TimBikes New Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(PriuStorm @ Nov 14 2007, 09:35 PM) [snapback]539832[/snapback]</div>
    For those who don't have time to watch it at the moment, can you list a couple of salient points from the video?
     
  4. PriuStorm

    PriuStorm Senior Member

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    Sorry, I don't know who the fellow is. In short, the video shows that if we were going to buy a lottery ticket for our future, and we were betting on whether to take action to combat Global Climate Change or not, which would we buy?

    The conclusion is that the worst case outcome of taking no action is far worse than the worst case scenario of taking action. Given those odds, we'd bet on taking action, regardless whether GCC is true or false.


    An intro for those who'd like to skip the video, but please don't pick apart my synopsis... if intrigued, please watch the video. I am paraphrasing from memory.

    He draws a grid of 4 boxes (2x2) and defines the Y axis as Global Climate Change argument. The top row represents the GCC argument = False, and the bottom row represents the GCC argument = True.

    The X axis is then defined as whether or not we take action, where the left column = Yes, we take action, and the right column = No, we do not take action.

    There are now four possibilities.

    1. GCC argument = False, but Yes we take action
    2. GCC argument = False, and No we do not take action
    3. GCC argument = True, and Yes we take action
    4. GCC argument = True, and No we do not take action.

    Taking this to the worst case scenario, he projects the outcome of each of the 4 possibilities.

    Possibility #1 examines if GCC is false and we enact major changes to laws and spending to counteract something that is false. The worst case scenario (as echoed by many of our leaders) is economic fiasco, 'wasting' money on something imaginary, leading possibly global depression as the worst case scenario.

    Possibility #2 is the easiest. If the GCC argument is false and we don't take any action, then life goes on normally and nothing happens.

    Possibility #3 examines if GCC is indeed true and we do enact major changes to counteract the impending consequences. The cost is high, but we succeed in saving turning back the tides and saving the planet.

    Possiblity #4 examines if GCC is indeed true, and we do nothing about it, the worst case scenario is famine, drought, economic failure (global depression), health consequences, social consequences, deaths, etc.

    Currently, everyone is arguing about whether GCC is true or false. But instead of arguing about this, he suggests we look at the odds of what would happen, as though we were buying a lottery ticket for our future.

    If we wager our bet on the 'No' column (we do nothing about GCC regardless whether it's true), we have a 50/50 chance of life going on as usual, and life changing majorly into the worst calamity imaginable.

    If we wager our bet on the 'Yes' column (yes, we take action to combat GCC whether it's true or not), in one case, we risk the worst case scenario of a global depression, or the best case scenario of having spent some money unnecessarily but life going on as usual.

    He then points out that the worst case scenario in column 'No' includes the worst case scenario in 'Yes' and a multitude of other horrible outcomes.

    If we were going to buy a lottery ticket for our future, which would we buy? The point is that the worst case outcome of taking no action is far worse than the worst case scenario of taking action.
     

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  5. madler

    madler Member

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    His original argument is flawed, but he updated it: How It All Ends. It's only ten minutes. Just watch it.
     
  6. TimBikes

    TimBikes New Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(PriuStorm @ Nov 15 2007, 09:45 PM) [snapback]540420[/snapback]</div>
    OK - very nice summary!

    I recall reading that Hansen argued that if we simply eliminated coal-fired power generating plants we could avoid what he calls "Dangerous Anthropogenic Interference". It would seem that nuclear energy would be the fastest, most reliable, and scalable solution, assuming Hansen's assessment is accurate.
     
  7. madler

    madler Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(TimBikes @ Nov 16 2007, 02:20 AM) [snapback]540443[/snapback]</div>
    It certainly would be the one we could get started on the quickest to make the most difference in the short term.

    The scalability however has issues.

    If we use classical reactor technology, we could not replace all of our fossil fuel electricity generation with nuclear without running into significant fuel supply problems. This is even worse if you want to use electricity generation to also replace fossil fuel use in transportation, e.g. through storage in batteries or methanol.

    To really scale nuclear, you need to go to breeder reactors, which makes vastly better use of the natural Uranium (or Thorium if you'd like to go that route, with even greater supply). The down side is that the reprocessing of the fuel required for breeder reactors is exactly the sort of thing you do to make nuclear weapon fuel. So if you want to spread this solution globally, you end up with a nasty nuclear weapon proliferation problem.

    Maybe if everyone had all the energy they needed, it would reduce the probability of wars in the first place. However there are other resources worth fighting over, such as land and water.

    The eventual solution to replacing fossil fuels as our energy source has to include nuclear, but I don't think it can be only nuclear. It will need to be mostly direct solar energy collection.
     
  8. daniel

    daniel Cat Lovers Against the Bomb

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    The argument becomes a lot stronger when people understand the science behind anthropogenic global warming. The Teaching Company has an excellent six-hour lecture course titled Earth's Changing Climate, but unfortunately I bought my copy just before the end of the sale, and the price has now gone up considerably. The audio download was $20 and is now $90. But there may be a possibility that they'd honor the sale price for someone who phoned them and said you just heard about it. I've written (as a long-time customer of many of their courses) suggesting they restore the sale price for the audio download version, due to the importance to our society of the topic and the need for Americans to understand the science behind it.
     
  9. TimBikes

    TimBikes New Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(madler @ Nov 16 2007, 06:26 AM) [snapback]540507[/snapback]</div>
    Solar's good too - particularly in areas where adequate sunlight makes it feasible - but I'm not sure it is able to meet enough of our power needs (although I'm speaking out of ignorance here, so please forgive). It's kind of strange to me that Germany of all countries has really embraced solar.
     
  10. tripp

    tripp Which it's a 'ybrid, ain't it?

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(TimBikes @ Nov 16 2007, 11:28 AM) [snapback]540656[/snapback]</div>
    Tim, the Sun bathes the Earth in more energy in an hour than the entire global community uses in a year. Of course, the energy is diffuse and conversion efficiencies aren't great. However, the limitation is not due to input. Fortunately, solar thermal plants can store heat for some amount of time and continue to produce electricity after the sun has gone down. The SW US could easily provide enough power to run this country, but there are a host of limitation that make it not so easy. That's why we need to utilize a variety of sources (wind, tide, classic hydro, geothermal, wave, solar, biomass, landfill gas, etc etc) so solve this problem. Nuclear is going to have a place. It's our best large scale base load option at the moment (followed by NG). Hell, using IGCC coal plants and getting rid of the dinosaur pulverized coal plants would actually be a huge step forward (twice as efficient with way less pollutions... without sequestering anything).

    We need to ram efficiency down peoples throat. That alone could eliminate several coal plants. Make solar water heating a building code requirement (it would save us a lot of NG for one thing). Require all incandescent traffic lights be replaced with LEDs... now.

    Germany is a bit odd, but not if you understand the economics of solar power in Germany. Basically, you're insane if you don't install solar there (their feed-in tariff guarantees top dollar/euro for every kWh of solar produced for 20 years). However, Concentrating Solar Power wouldn't work very well there.
     
  11. PriuStorm

    PriuStorm Senior Member

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    Well, when one part of the earth does not have enough sun to power by solar, another part of the earth has excess. For our part, we could start by installing solar on every rooftop in America. A project like this (as huge as going to the moon, or building the interstates in the first place) would be a big investment up front, but would pay back bigtime in only a few short years. Besides, putting a demand like that out for solar panels and equipment would surely drop the price down. Right now, those venturing forth to do solar are carrying the brunt of the (financial) burden (even including Federal tax credits). We can do much better as a society and as a country.
     
  12. daniel

    daniel Cat Lovers Against the Bomb

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(PriuStorm @ Nov 16 2007, 05:13 PM) [snapback]540757[/snapback]</div>
    Economically this makes sense. For the energy security of the country it makes sense. But politically it challenges the vested interest of the energy industry that wants to sell us energy, and that will lose a shitload of money if we start making our own electricity on the roofs of our houses. Thus your proposal faces very powerful opponents, who pretty much own both the legislative and the executive branches of government.

    If it wasn't for that, we could have skipped the useless war in Iraq and solarized the nation for what this war has cost us so far.

    On the other hand, from the point of view of GWB and his cronies in the oil industry, the war has had one very positive effect: It has put this nation so deeply in debt that we will not have the funds for such a project for at least a decade, forcing us to buy our energy from his cronies for many more years to come.
     
  13. tleonhar

    tleonhar Senior Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(daniel @ Nov 16 2007, 07:36 PM) [snapback]540763[/snapback]</div>
    A few months ago, I was watching a show on green energy on one of the Discovery Channels. They were interviewing someone who is erecting wind farms, he pointed out that if just 10% of the subsidies (read corporate welfare) that goes to the petro industries were directed to renewal/alternate, we could be energy independant in something like 15-20 years.
     
  14. daniel

    daniel Cat Lovers Against the Bomb

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(tleonhar @ Nov 16 2007, 07:14 PM) [snapback]540783[/snapback]</div>
    Yes.

    By the same token, if you take a chunk of meat away from a big dog and give it to a little dog, the little dog can get bigger. But the big dog is going to try to bite you when you take his meat away. I hope it goes without saying that the big dog is the petroleum industry, the little dog is the fledgling alternative-energy industry, and the chunk of meat is the very juicy free money the government gives to the oil industry, out of our tax dollars.
     
  15. tripp

    tripp Which it's a 'ybrid, ain't it?

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    Well, for what it's worth some of the utilities are coming around. CO has a gov't mandate to cut CO2 emissions 20% by 2020. Xcel Energy is working on ways to achieve that. At the end of this year we'll hit 1 GW of installed wind power. Xcel is proposing shutting down 2 coal plants (granted they're little wiener ones about 100 MW each). There's also a proposed 200 MW CSP plant on the drawing board. All of this because of Gov't mandates. To their credit, Xcel seems to be cooperating. They don't need any incentive for wind, it's already cost effective compared to NG. They are building a new 750 MW coal plant in Pueblo, but the silver lining is that it's an IGCC plant.

    Also, two coal fired plants were denied air permits in Kansas by the state regulartory board. The decision to nix the plants was based on CO2 emissions (something to the effect that this would be irresponsible given existing scientific evidence). In a red state... Of course, the decision has already been appealed but still. We've really have come a long way in 3 years. We've got a long way to go, but there's been some real progress.
     
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