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Climate Hustle

A Plan for 100% Renewable Energy by 2050

Posted on 25 March 2011 by dana1981

We recently examined how Australia can meet 100% of its electricity needs from renewable sources by 2020.  Here we will examine how that goal can be scaled up for the rest of the world.

Energy consulting firm Ecofys produced a report detailing how we can meet nearly 100% of global energy needs with renewable sources by 2050.  Approximately half of the goal is met through increased energy efficiency to first reduce energy demands, and the other half is achieved by switching to renewable energy sources for electricity production (Figure 1).

ecofys fig 1

Figure 1: Ecofys projected global energy consumption between 2000 and 2050

To achieve the goal of 100% renewable energy production, Ecofys forsees that global energy demand in 2050 will be 15% lower than in 2005, despite a growing population and continued economic development in countries like India and China.  In their scenario:

"Industry uses more recycled and energy-efficient materials, buildings are constructed or upgraded to need minimal energy for heating and cooling, and there is a shift to more efficient forms of transport.

As far as possible, we use electrical energy rather than solid and liquid fuels. Wind, solar, biomass and hydropower are the main sources of electricity, with solar and geothermal sources, as well as heat pumps providing a large share of heat for buildings and industry. Because supplies of wind and solar power vary, “smart” electricity grids have been developed to store and deliver energy more efficiently.  Bioenergy (liquid biofuels and solid biomass) is used as a last resort where other renewable energy sources are not viable."

To achieve the necessary renewable energy production, Ecofys envisions that solar energy supplies about half of our electricity, half of our building heating, and 15% of our industrial heat and fuel by 2050.  This requires an average annual solar energy growth rate much lower than we're currently achieving – an encouraging finding.

The report notes that wind could meet one-quarter of the world’s electricity needs by 2050 if current growth rates continue, and sets that as its goal.  Ecofys also envisions more than one-third of building heat coming from geothermal sources by 2050.  If we double current geothermal electricity production growth rates, it can provide 4% of our total electricity needs by that date.  Ocean power, through both waves and tides, accounts for about 1% of global electricity needs in 2050.  Hydropower, which currently supplies 15% of global electricity, ultimately supplies 12% in the Ecofys scenario.  As you can see in Figure 2, global renewable energy use ramps up gradually between now and 2050.

ecofys fig 4

Figure 2: Energy use by source between 2000 and 2050

Burning biomass (such as plant and animal waste) will supply 60% of industrial fuels and heat, 13% of building heat, and 13% of electricity needs.  Much of the proposed biomass use comes from plant residues from agriculture and food processing, sawdust and residues from forestry and wood processing, manure, and municipal waste.  All of these renewable energy technologies currently exist, and it's just a matter of implementing them on a sufficiently large scale.

Ecofys also envisions using currently existing technology and expertise to "create buildings that require almost no conventional energy for heating or cooling, through airtight construction, heat pumps and sunlight.  The Ecofys scenario foresees all new buildings achieving these standards by 2030."  2–3% of existing buildings will also need to be retrofitted per year to improve energy efficiency.  Ecofys notes that Germany is already retrofitting buildings at this rate.  Transportation must become more efficient, using more fuel efficient vehicles like electric cars, and increasing use of mass public transportation.

Accomplishing all of this will require a major effort, but Ecofys has a number of suggestions how we can start:

  • Introduce minimum efficiency standards worldwide for all products that consume energy, including buildings
  • Build energy conservation into every stage of product design
  • Introduce strict energy efficiency criteria for all new buildings
  • Introduce an energy tax, or perhaps a carbon emissions price
  • Help developing countries pursue alternatives to inefficient biomass burning, such as such as improved biomass cooking stoves, solar cookers and small-scale biogas digesters
  • Substantial investment in public transportation
  • Make individuals, businesses, and communities more aware of their energy consumption, and encourage increased efficiency

Undoubtedly you're wondering how much this will all cost.  Ecofys finds that we will need to divert up to 3% of global gross domestic product (GDP) to investments in materials and energy efficiency, renewable energy, and necessary infrastructure.  However, we also save money in terms of reduced fossil fuel use.

The report finds that we can save nearly 4 trillion Euros ($5.7 trillion) per year by 2050 based on energy efficiency savings and reduced fuel costs, as compared to business-as-usual.  The up-front investments are expensive, but savings will begin to exceed those costs by 2040, and even sooner if oil prices rise faster than expected, or if we factor in the costs of climate change and the impact of burning fossil fuels on public health.  The plan will reduce energy-related greenhouse-gas emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050, which will give us a fighting chance to avoid the 2°C global warming "danger limit".

There's a saying, "where there's a will, there's a way".  In this case we have a way to fully transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy by 2050.  The question is, do we have the will?

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Comments 51 to 100 out of 174:

  1. les, instead of playing with words, maybe you could give a simple argument explaining why the world would renounce entirely , for eternity, to extract some tens of Gt of carbon still available at cheap prices , increasing the total wealth (at least for some time) of the world, for a "cost" of only a few more tenths of degrees?

    I'd like to know your opinion about the question at the end of my post #45, BTW. I have a funny story to tell you about that. So how many people could afford to travel to Maldives Islands, in this 2050 world?
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  2. Considering the account is already well in the red, doesn't that mean that every ounce of carbon emitted means just adding to the total that has then be removed to get anywhere near safe?

    Doesn't matter if the CO2 is building a fridge or a wind turbine it is going into the atmopshere and therefore will have to be removed again if 350ppm is to be acheived.

    Therefore renewables don't reduce atmospheric CO2 as they area source of CO2 emissions and that a proportion of that CO2 will have to be removed again to reduce atmospheric CO2.

    Clearly to produce power renewables cause far less CO2 emissions than coal but they do still casue CO2 emissions and compared to stopping using the power there is no contest.

    And also keep in mind that LCA or very likely to be on the low range of reality as infra-structure inputs are rarely counted nor the CO2 costs resultant from secondary effects of the production of the materials, like eco-system disturbance from mining.

    Can't help feeling that we need to start considering a CO2 budget that is upfront and final, that is we have x tonnes of carbon we can use and that is it, so no payback accounting or offsetting just an upfront amount and that upfront amount has to not only provide the energy to build all the energy replacement but also all the additional infra-structure and product replacements.

    So say the CO2 budget is set for 400ppm peak (it doesn't feel exactly safe to go higher), means for the UK the budget is less than 1 years of the UK's currents emissions if the budget is equitably distributed across the globe.

    Now considering the need for adaptations and priority services (hospitals) that isn't exactly much to spend on renewables to sustain the extremely high energy use we currently luxuriate in and means that for every ounce of carbon spent of renewables you want the maximum out, so putting a solar panel array in driving rain drenched West Scotland wouldn't make much sense!

    Anyway all this conjecture on carbon budgets isn't in actuality going to make much difference, as the carbon industry is huge powerful and popular; what government is seriously going to BAN the use of fossil fuels any time soon, especially considering the military consequences of doing so, war is the biggest user of carbon and fastest way to destroy habitat and there no way your running an aircraft carrier on solar panels!

    I've reduced my peronal power usage by ~80% or more and amazingly I'm still alive and not in the third world.

    Surely if everyone markedly reduced energy use wouldn't acheiving the carbon sequestering situation needed be a lot easier and an awful lot quicker?

    And do keep in mind that CO2 isn't the whole sorry there is CO2e and the larger current threat of biodiversity loss which also need major changes to occur to create a future that is sustainable.
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  3. 51 Gilles - 1st. I am certainly not playing with words. Well, they may only be words to you - but in reality the relate to actual theory and practice and have substantial technical meaning. When someone just throws them around it's a clear indicator they're not really clued in.
    The fun thing about your reference and use of economic is that you are doing exactly what you say is illegitimate to do for climate modelling... If you look behind the words to the science, it's obvious.

    regarding your question #51
    That clearly begs so many questions that I'm tempted to suggest that it's an insult to everyones intelligence even to ask it!

    Regarding your question #45
    "Now a question concerning a 100 % renewable energy world : with these hypothesis, which fraction of people could leave on vacation overseas , for instance in Maldives islands, following you ?"
    Who knows, not everyone likes fish so much and a vacation on the Maldives may not be that appealing. Others like snorkeling, maybe it would suit them. I don't know how these and other preference break-down on a global basis. sorry not to be of more help. Maybe the Maldives tourist office could be of more help.
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  4. "could give a simple argument explaining why the world would renounce entirely , for eternity, to extract some tens of Gt of carbon still available at cheap prices , increasing the total wealth"

    You really are a broken record, Gilles, & you still haven't provided proof to back this assertion. You're part right, in that extracting this carbon will *probably* increase the total wealth-but that wealth ultimately accrues to those who mine & sell it, not to those who burn it & ultimately will have to clean up the mess this stuff leaves behind.
    There are better ways to increase wealth-starting with paying the people of the developing nations a wage commensurate to the work they do, rather than being exploited for slave wages-something *no* amount of fossil fuel consumption will rectify. Similarly, helping nations to improve education & health care standards will do far more to increase overall wealth than just burning tonnes of coal & polluting the atmosphere. The fact is that burning coal is less tied to wealth now than at any point in the last 150 years-yet still people like yourself continue to cling to these outdated mythologies about the miracle panacea of fossil fuels.
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  5. On Gilles insistence that 'fossil fuel will still be used'... there is some validity.

    For instance, if most of the rest of the world converted to renewable energy it would be quite likely that Saudi Arabia would continue using oil... because they'd then have such a surplus of it that the cost for local use (no transport cost added in) would be negligible.

    There are also some applications which alternative energy sources can't handle yet. For instance, what other energy source has the energy/mass density needed to keep a 747 in the air? Or launch a satellite into orbit?

    So no, true 0% fossil fuel use in the next few decades does not seem likely with current technology. It is possible that the few remaining technical and economic hurdles will be overcome in that time frame, but by no means certain. However, even without revolutionary technological improvements we can certainly get down to some tiny fraction (less than 1%) of current fossil fuel use.
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  6. Regarding FFs being used somewhere:
    One the one hand, it's not really a problem - any more than the fact that some people still ride horses doesn't give rise to huge problems clearing the streets of New York or London of manure. Technology is improving for oil use in terms of efficiency and reduced CO2 production; and will continue to do so. On the other hand it's always been a question of the shear quantity of the CO2 emissions.

    I do think there will, however, be a down side.
    The rest of the petrochemical industry (plastics, drugs, paint etc.) depends on the cost of extracting their raw material being subsidized by the fuel industry. If oil consumption drops to low (no, I don't know how low that is) it could be that the cost of other products rises to as they shoulder more of their own cost of production.
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  7. Regarding the use of fossil fuels for aircraft - the US military is pouring a huge amount of funds into the development of alternative fuels for aircraft (seems they don't like spending $billions every year on oil from the middle east!).

    There was a story a couple of days ago about an F-22 fighter (their latest & greatest stealth jobbie) flying on a 50/50 blend of fossil/biofuel. I believe they've already flown some other aircraft on 100% biofuel.

    Regarding getting fossil fuel usage to zero - yes, it would be desirable, but no, it's not gonna happen. Given that natural sinks are currently soaking up about half of human emissions, though, an 80% reduction would be a good starting point!

    There are also some promising new technologies that may make it cheap & economical to strip CO2 out of the air on a truly industrial scale.

    So combine dramatic reduction of FF usage, with industrial-scale CO2 capture, and we're halfway there...
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  8. les : "Technology is improving for oil use in terms of efficiency and reduced CO2 production; and will continue to do so."

    as far as I know, burning one atom of C does always produce one molecule of CO2 , whatever you're doing with it. That's precisely why I insist on this point : "reducing" CO2 production means actually producing more usable energy and/or GDP per unit carbon. People use to say that "coal (or tar sands) produce more CO2 than natural gas", but this is deceiving : actually natural gas produces more heat than coal per atom of C - but exactly the same CO2 : one CO2 per C.

    So barring carbon sequestration which is very unlikely to suppress a large amount of CO2, the total amount of CO2 produced during the industrial civilization will exactly be the total amount of C extracted. Period. And improving the use of energy does not change the ultimate amount of extractible reserves. The only reason why we should stop extracting fossil fuels are
    1) they have become much too expensive (or difficult to reach actually that's the same)
    OR
    2) there are much cheaper and more convenient alternatives and they've become totally useless - which can only be true if the alternatives are not limited by their amount compared to needs

    Even from what I'm saying in this scenario, we would be very far from case 2). It can work only through "a major effort" and " and increasing use of mass public transportation." - well, swimming in wealth is usually not a "major effort" - this means simply that all needs would NOT be satisfied . And so until 1) is reached, there is absolutely no reason why producers wouldn't extract FF for which they would find without problem customers.
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  9. Giles 58 Wrote "reducing" CO2 production means actually producing more usable energy and/or GDP per unit carbon. "

    les 56 wrote "terms of efficiency and reduced CO2 production"

    Efficiency means exactly producing more usable product per unit of input. In the case of oil, using less of it for the same output will reduce CO2 production. So I'm not at all sure what what your wrote adds.

    On the other hand, your remarks about coal, tar sand, natural gas etc. only goes to show that you did not understand what you wrote above... if it produces more energy per emitted unit of CO2, it's exactly what I wrote.

    Clearly you're so into objecting to what you think you see written (not, actually what is written) that you end up disagreeing with what you wrote your self!
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  10. Giles wrote: "as far as I know, burning one atom of C does always produce one molecule of CO2 , whatever you're doing with it."

    No, that would only be true if it burned cleanly and completely, which generally is not the case (e.g. carbon monoxide in car exaust fumes). Tar sands produce less energy per unit carbon than natural gas because you need to expend (vastly) more energy extracting it. I would have thought that was blindingly obvious. IIRC the reason for interest in tar sands and shale deposits has more to do with security of supply than economics, although that will change as more economic supplies are used up.
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  11. I think there is a lot of unecessary speculation here. First, there is, technically, no need of using FF at all in the long run, even with current combustion technology. Bio-substitutes are already important in the fuel mix in several countries, and they can be produced entirely from inedible raw materials, so there is no inherent competition with food use. Rather the contrary whenever the use of waste like straw from grain production makes agriculture more profitable.

    Second, the price increase due to increasing FF energy use is a problem for using gas/oil as industry raw materials - it is no longer the case that raw material use of hydrocarbons is not able to pay for itself. So if we want to promote that use, we avoid using gas for power plants and oil for gasoline. But the increasing gas prices also makes bio-mass more competitive for raw materials, which is probably not a bad thing.

    Third, if we use energy efficiently, the current world population could probably have the western living standard. Space, not energy, restrictions is what will make adaptation of the western life style impossible. For example, in Norway, less than 1700 kWh/person is used for air transport, and the demand is almost surely higher than will be the world average. It's not that hard to produce that amount of biofuels if people are willing to pay, and most other transportation could be electrified.

    Fourth, FFs can surely help in the transition, and it is not their use in itself, but the enormous levels of CO2 emissions that constitutes the problem. And it is not true that development of renewable energy has to take an enormous amount of energy and raw materials, compared to other enterprises. For a large part, renewable energy is already used to produce equipment for renewable energy, and if this is done consciously, it can speed up development greatly. Gas and coal fired backup for renewable electricity production will be important for quite a while, but not indefinitely.

    Fifth, those who advocate the use of nuclear as necessary baseload with renewable energy have surely not studied the field very well. For example, in Europe, pumped hydro can easily do all the necessary regulation itself, if a Europe-wide network of offshore wind turbines is used as a basis, and simple, economically motivated, measures are taken. Like intelligent grids and photovoltaic generation balancing air condition use, domestic heat pumps run in daytime against accumulation tanks, etc.

    I reallly can't get it: People are thinking and talking about renewable energy as the distant and unknown future, whan actually today, ca 20% of EUs electricity is already renewable, and the fraction is rapidly increasing. At today's pace, EU renewable electricity (610 TWh) will bypass nuclear (1000 TWh) in less than twenty years. With no policy changes. And we know that time is working for the renewable alternatives. The potentials are huge, which is why we don't really have to care too much about the future total consumption - the most important thing is faciliating change. And in this respect we have already proven tools, like predictable feed-in tariffs. The important question for me is: Why don't we use them more? Even China has a generous feed-in tariff for wind power...
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  12. scaddenp:

    > Well David MacKay's "Sustainable Energy without the hot air" most certainly considers it.

    MacKay's book has been accepted with a puzzling level of passivity. Most people seem to have simply assumed it's an unbiased, factually infallible work.

    A few people think otherwise:

    * David MacKay's "...inflated demand figure of 490 GW is nowhere near our real energy demand, and has mislead people into believing the myth that Britain’s energy demand exceeds its renewable resource, whereas the reverse is true: our renewable resource is much greater than our energy demand." http://www.energynumbers.info/british-energy-demand-and-professor-mackays-estimate-of-it-an-explanation-of-the-differences

    * 'No Hot Air' About Renewable Energy While Blowing Smoke: David Mackay plays 'Brutus' to the Sun's 'Caesar'. http://www.justmeans.com/-No-Hot-Air-About-Renewable-Energy-While-Blowing-Smoke-David-Mackay-plays-Brutus-Sun-s-Caesar/27338.html
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  13. "Efficiency means exactly producing more usable product per unit of input. In the case of oil, using less of it for the same output will reduce CO2 production"

    les, the important point is that there is no reason to keep the same output if efficiency is increased. That's the very principle of economic growth. increasing the efficiency doesn't reduce in general the energy use and keep the output constant, but quite the opposite : keep the energy use constant and increase the output. If you don't get this point, you can't really understand what I'm saying.

    Actually it is worse like that, because increasing efficiency does event not keep energy reserves constant : it tends also to increase it. The amount of available FF is increasing with time.And there are not one, but two excellent reasons for that

    - increasing the efficiency of technology tends to decrease the extraction costs : we're becoming more and more performant to drill oil wells very deep in the ocean, extract hydrocarbons from shale, and so on... so actually for a given quality, they become cheaper and cheaper

    - increasing the efficiency raises the wealth produced by unit energy, so increases the cost of not using them . A cost-benefit analysis will be displaced towards a larger consumption equilibrium value. For the "cost" of burning 1 t C is always the same (it can be even lowered by improving adaption and mitigation), but the "benefit" increases. So not burning this t of C is increasingly expensive.

    If you want an explanation of why all discussions about "reducing CO2" universally fail, these are two very good reasons - you can have a reduction of the annual rate - this won't insure at all that you will reduce the total amount, quite the opposite actually.
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  14. DM : "No, that would only be true if it burned cleanly and completely, which generally is not the case (e.g. carbon monoxide in car exaust fumes). "

    i'd like to strongly discourage you from thinking that you can reduce the CO2 by increasing CO - fortunately CO is slowly oxidized by radical reactions in the atmosphere (much like CH4) and ends up also as CO2.

    "
    Tar sands produce less energy per unit carbon than natural gas because you need to expend (vastly) more energy extracting it."

    If you think a little bit more of what you're saying, you will see that it's exactly what I am saying : all the carbon extracted gives eventually CO2, the only drawback is that less usable energy is produced with it. Tar sand do not emit "more CO2" per unit C - they only produce less usable energy per CO2 molecule.
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    Moderator Response: [Dikran Marsupial] I have rarely seen such an obvious example of trolling than suggesting anyone would think that increasing CO emissions would be a way of reducing CO2. Sorry, I am issuing a nolle prosequi on that one! ;o)
  15. Gilles, there are so many reasons I don't understand what you're saying, it's unimaginable; but not sharing in your confusion on economic growth (and many many other issues) isn't (aren't) amongst them.

    Anyway, nice to see that your knowledge of economics is right up their with your physics and stats.
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  16. Gilles: "The amount of available FF is increasing with time. And there are not one, but two excellent reasons for that

    - ... we're becoming more and more performant to drill oil wells very deep in the ocean, extract hydrocarbons from shale, and so on... so actually for a given quality, they become cheaper and cheaper"

    This Gillesian logic is based on the usual paucity of facts: Do you have any data on the full-cycle finding and development cost per boe? Do you know that this cost has increased 6-fold in the last ten years? Do you know the average 'break-even price' continues to increase at a rate comparable to the market price per boe?

    " - increasing the efficiency raises the wealth produced by unit energy, so increases the cost of not using them."

    As far as the increasing cost of not using fossil fuel, that's a concept that is only fit for use on the Bizarro planet.
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  17. les : sorry, but what I'm saying is just a summary of the history of the industrial civilization : increased efficiency has led to continuous increase of both energy consumption and GDP


    what don't you understand ?

    Mucounter : une nouvelle fois, sorry that you misunderstood me. I did say "for a given quality", they become cheaper and cheaper : of course this is not contradictory with what you said , that "this cost has increased 6-fold in the last ten years" - because the cause of this increase is just the exhaustion of cheap resources, so it is no more "for a given quality". That's exactly my point 1 : as the amount of FF is finite, at some point, the increase of intrinsic costs won't be balanced by an improvement of our techniques, and we'll face the problem of diminishing yields. Since FF are finite, this must occur at some time -which will be precisely the time when FF consumption will naturally decrease because they become more and more expensive.

    But that's precisely what I'm claiming : that we are close to this moment (and particularly for oil), so the FF consumption will decrease anyway because they're too expensive (reason 1) So
    a) most SRES scenarios are just imagination because they simply don't take into account the exhaustion of cheap resources (assuming that expensive resources can be extracted at the same or even higher rate , which is an aberration).
    b) on the other hand, it is extremely unlikely that we burn LESS than what we are able to extract.

    In other words, I'm saying that the amount of FF we will extract will depend only on our technological capabilities (which seem to saturate just now , at least for oil), and not at all on fancy colored graphics and fancy scenarios that so many "experts" are drawing.
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  18. "
    As far as the increasing cost of not using fossil fuel, that's a concept that is only fit for use on the Bizarro planet."

    This bizarre concept is just the only reason why we are looking for more and more resources. Thinking energy sources as a "cost" is a profound mistake : it's an income, because they produce much more wealth than what they cost. Their "cost" is just like taking your car to go to your job - it may cost a little, but much less than giving up your job.
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  19. Gilles #68: "... the only reason why we are looking for more and more resources."

    You clearly did not work in the same oil industry as I did. In the words of a former president of the AAPG, the two reasons we look for more resources are 'greed and envy.'

    "Thinking energy sources as a "cost" is a profound mistake : it's an income ... it may cost a little, but much less than giving up your job."

    You must live in the best of all possible worlds. I get paid the same regardless of the manner in which I travel to work. My car costs money to operate; that is effectively a reduction in my take-home pay that I would not have if I bicycled, walked, car-pooled. Tell my colleagues, who must calculate whether they can afford to work at the current price of gasoline, that their car is 'an income.'
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  20. Gilles #67: "the amount of FF we will extract will depend only on our technological capabilities ... and not at all on fancy colored graphics and fancy scenarios"

    And you have some data to substantiate this fancy scenario of yours? Or is it just the fancy colored graphical result of your profundity in #63, "the amount of available FF is increasing with time"?
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  21. Gilles:
    "les : sorry, but what I'm saying is just a summary of the history of the industrial civilization : increased efficiency has led to continuous increase of both energy consumption and GDP"
    no it's not. I'll explain tomorrow.

    "what don't you understand ?"
    You. thanks for asking.
    You clearly want to seem intelligent but don't give your self a chance. I don't understand that. Still, your choice.
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  22. Mucounter :"the two reasons we look for more resources are 'greed and envy.'"
    what's the difference with : because they create more wealth ?
    "Tell my colleagues, who must calculate whether they can afford to work at the current price of gasoline, that their car is 'an income.'"
    I didn't say that - i did say that it could be necessary to pay for it to get an income. If you can go to your job without car, that's fine. If you must have one, you accept it. That's just like oil : if it flows spontaneously from the ground, that's fine. If you must fetch it at 5000 thousands feet under the oceans ... well you accept it. But nobody would buy it if it weren't a precious resource.

    les : again, I have no reason to believe you understand things better than me - including the knowledge of who I am. So I'm waiting for your real arguments before answering.
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  23. "
    And you have some data to substantiate this fancy scenario of yours? "

    yes of course, I have : do you know an oil company who closed a well before it wasn't profitable anymore ?

    "
    Or is it just the fancy colored graphical result of your profundity in #63, "the amount of available FF is increasing with time"?""
    Again, just facts


    of course the amount of still available resources will decrease at some point , but not the URR (including past production).
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  24. Gilles #73: "what's the difference with : because they create more wealth ?" Create more wealth, for whom?

    "I didn't say that - i did say that it could be necessary to pay for it" Yeah, you did, in #68: "it may cost a little, but much less than giving up your job."

    As for your 'facts' (a bad choice using BP), oil sand reserves didn't just materialize in '98-'99. They were booked when the market price made it economic to book them. Those numbers are very fluid: Booking reserves was always an experience in answering the question 'what would you like it to be?'

    But a look at the very next graphic in the article you plucked your 'fact' graph from (and please cite your sources, else folks will justifiably think you're making stuff up) shows a very disappointing result:



    So your 'fact' inadvertently tells the truth about oil sands: They are a tiny segment of overall production. Unfortunately, the steam assisted recovery technology now in use produces more GHGs than traditional recovery methods.

    So your use of facts remains inconsistent. At least your style is consistent: An outrageous declaration provokes a response; your reply is invariably 'you misunderstand' or 'I didn't say that.' As the Cajuns say, C'est tout la même chose, n'est pas?
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  25. muoncounter, the other point to be made about Gilles 'facts' are this-#1, the graph conveniently ends at 2006 & #2, he fails to mention how Giga-barrels per year (or even total Giga-barrels) is leveling off at a dangerous rate-especially when you consider his previous graph, showing increased demand for oil. If total global oil reserves continue to level off whilst demand increases, then all I can say is that we're *stuffed*-unless we're smart & start to reduce our global oil consumption *now* by moving more towards better efficiency & increased use of bio-fuels.
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  26. Oops, seems I was *wrong*. according to this and this, the gap between production & consumption is even more dire than I thought.
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  27. Still, great to see Gilles tirelessly pushing on with his mythology regarding fossil fuel consumption & wealth. If it were that simple, then why does Saudi Arabia, with per Capita CO2 emissions of around 16t (as of 2007), have per Capita GDP of less than US$17,000? Why does the US, with its massive per capita output of CO2 (19t as of 2007) still have so many problems with poverty, homelessness, crime & mortality as compared to its European Counterparts-most of whom have significantly lower CO2 emissions per capita? Why is it that, even though 18th-19th centuries, England consumed massive amounts of coal, yet the average citizen of England was still living the same "hand-to-mouth" existence that they were back in the 16th & 17th centuries?

    You see, time & time & time again we can find loads of examples of where Gilles over-simplistic "Fossil fuels consumption=wealth" metric just doesn't equate well to the *real world*!
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  28. Marcus#77 : I already answered your questions several times : first I never stated that there was a single coefficient between GDP and energy or FF consumption : not more than a single coefficient between temperature and anything sensible concerning human wealth. with your logics, I could also ask : if world increase of temperature were that dangerous for mankind, how do you explain that wealth has increased by several tens during the XXth century whereas temperature have also increased ?

    the coefficient is not constant because a number of factors are variable : geographic, historic, improvement of techniques... again, nothing constant, just as the precise link between temperature and anything else. This does not mean that we could go to zero.
    look again gapminder and track the history of England , US , and China for instance; of course trajectories were not the same, not monotonous, and slopes were varying - however you cannot deny that there is a clear correlation !
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  29. concerning oil : I'm the first to say that we're close to peak oil, and that's why SRES scenarios are mostly unrealistic. What's your point ?
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  30. Marcus#77 : I already answered your questions several times : first I never stated that there was a single coefficient between GDP and energy or FF consumption.

    Well, just as predicted, you claim that this isn't what you've been saying, when clearly it *is* what you've been saying *all* along. Try to make up your mind Gilles.

    As to the correlation between temperature & wealth-well that's an even *more* bogus correlation than the one you claim exists between FF consumption & wealth. There is no one single thing that correlates with the growth of wealth, but I can assure you that there are a number of other things which correlate better than either FF consumption or temperature increase-yet still this is a fantasy that you're determined to propagate, no matter how little evidence you have to back your claims.
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  31. "concerning oil : I'm the first to say that we're close to peak oil, and that's why SRES scenarios are mostly unrealistic. What's your point ?"

    Except that oil isn't the only thing we have to worry about. Between coal & oil, there *is* sufficient CO2 emissions to be unlocked to make the SRES scenarios very realistic &-if anything-somewhat optimistic. Of course, unlike yourself, I'd rather direct our society *away* from this destructive path rather than test out the strength of the these scenarios. Seriously, I really don't know why you're wasting so much of our time with these repetitive, fact free assertions of yours.
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  32. "There is no one single thing that correlates with the growth of wealth, but I can assure you that there are a number of other things which correlate better than either FF consumption or temperature increase"

    For temperatures, I agree of course. For FF consumption, show me one.

    ". Between coal & oil, there *is* sufficient CO2 emissions to be unlocked to make the SRES scenarios very realistic "

    I disagree : SRES scenarios are exactly as unrealistic for gas and coal than for oil. It's just that you didn't realize it yet, because peak oil is close and peak gas and coal a little bit more remote - but the methodology was the same for oil and for other FF : basically bogus.

    . SRES scenarios are just a set of storylines, and contain no scientifically assessed laws concerning energy and economy. You could have asked a 10 years old child to draw a series of bell-shaped lines with different colored pens - you would have got pretty much the same result without paying any "expert", in 5 minutes - science begins when we know how to disprove stupid hypothesis and keep the good ones - there is obviously nothing like that in the set of SRES scenarios.
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  33. Worldwide energy consumption in 2050 being less than today seems just a wee bit fanciful to me. IEA projects an average yearly growth of 1.2% from now until 2035 with an overall growth of 36% from 2008 to 2035. WORLD ENERGY OUTLOOK 2010 FACTSHEET

    Basing energy policy on wishful thinking about demand is not likely to have a benign outcome.
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  34. There are apparently two Gilles in this discussion. Gilles #63 believes "the amount of available FF is increasing with time". Gilles #82 believes that predictions of increased fossil fuel use (and thus increasing CO2 emissions) are just 'storylines.' Will the real Gilles please stand up? Preferably with some actual information in hand, rather than generic dismissals of 'basically bogus' methodologies.
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  35. #82 Giles,

    Using scenarios to but some bounds on the range of the problem and to promote critical thinking about the problem is quite valid. Indeed it is essential.

    I don't know what you are going ob about.
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  36. Gilles - your analysis assumes man is strictly logical in his actions - therefore utilize every available "cheap" unit of FF.

    But your analysis ALSO assumes man is strictly illogical in his actions - therefore ignore the climate change cost of every available "cheap" unit of FF.

    In reality man is loosely logical. As we experience more and more of the effects of climate change, as we drive the costs of renewables down in comparison to "cheap" FF and as people see those that pay 20% of what they pay for energy (through conservation and renewable systems) and that their capital costs where strictly less than 20% greater for this benefit - man will choose the renewable route.

    This will happen much quicker in less developed countries of course, just as these countries were quick to develop cell phone technology. Add to that the fact that citizens of these countries are not having to reduce their consumption in any way, rather, their life is greatly improved by buying a Nissan Leaf and 8 solar panels to allow motorized transportation, preferable to walking/horse.

    The issue is how long does it take to convince loosely logical man to get on with it? And the cost of waiting too long is beyond imagination - basically Japan's last two weeks in nearly every country on earth, only with fewer resources to deal with the problem.
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  37. 84 : Mucounter : depends if you consider the total amount, including that already extracted+ previsions, or the remaining one. The former usually increases, but the latter wil decrease at some time.
    85 . Quokka : of you want some bounds on the range of the problem, I can give them very quickly , at no cost : Mankind will probably burn between 500 GtC and 3000 GtC in the XXIth century . Done. (easy to change if you find it is too restrictive : between 100 and 5000 for instance).

    just a question : does the Ecofys scenario presented here fit in the sample of the SRES scenarios, yes or no ?

    86 : I'm neither assuming mankind is totally rational, nor irrational : I'm only assuming it won't change a lot in the next century. I think it's enough.

    Now the funny story about Maldives I promised you. The current leader of French Green Party , Cecile Duflot (a woman), went on vacation in Maldives Islands , just after the Copenhague Summit. When journalists learnt that, they "tickled" her a bit. She answered
    * it was a gift from her husband
    * she is a "normal " woman
    * one cannot go in Maldives Islands with a pedalboat ("pedalo")
    (for those understanding French , video here :http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xbqz5l_duflot-on-ne-va-pas-aux-maldives-a_news)

    well all this is perfectly understandable and I'm not blaming her for being a "normal" woman and liking going on vacation with her husband. But .. that's it. If EVEN the leader of a green party find it "normal", who won't ?

    is she an exception? well some other well know "green" characters in France : Nicolas Hulot (who may be candidate at the next President election) - first famous for a TV broadcast "Ushuaïa" , showing all the marvelous places in the world, together with some sportive performances (flying over Kilimandjaro, swimming with sea lions , and so on). Must have travelled a lot too. Yann Artus-Bertrand, famous for having taken beautiful pictures by plane of "The Earth from the Sky" - you may know his book. I think he burnt a fair amount of fuel , too.

    But i think you know that - you have Al Gore , too?

    well again I'm not putting blame on them (although THEY put a lot of blame on a lot of people). Actually, they're just .. normal. They like earning money, traveling, being famous, probably eating good food... just like everybody.
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  38. Oh come on Gilles. That's a bit like telling me I shouldn't use the car to take my mum (86 years old) shopping. Yes I should. If the car industry had got its act together when it should have done, my car would be an EV because EV would have been a standard choice when I bought it 5+ years ago, rather than an exotic novelty as it is at the moment.

    Flying for holidays? Well if the industry weren't distorted in favour of flying, we'd have a huge network of inter-intra-continental highspeed trains across Europe and Asia and the USA by now. The journey itself should be enjoyable as a (brief) part of the holiday itself, rather than a bit of an ordeal in a confined space to be endured and done with as fast as possible.

    Easy to get to a stop off point near desirable holiday destinations. Ferries or short flights to complete the various journeys. Job done. Long haul flying should be a last resort rather than the standard option.
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  39. Adelady, your vision of the world is totally "normal" : i.e. you consider as "normal" the way of life you're used to. But do you know that only 10 % of people in the world can think that they could use a car to take their mum go shopping - the others first don't have a car, and second their mums (who rarely live up to 85 ) has absolutely no money to go in shops that don't exist close to their home anyway.


    a last resort that how many people in the world would have the privilege to take, following you ?

    but I didn't want to discuss whether it was bad or good . I'm simply observing that even people who claim loudly we should all consume much less usually behave like the others.

    I forgot to say something about Maldives - the poor country that is supposed to drown underseas in a few decades. Very interesting facts here :http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maldives

    including :

    "Real GDP growth averaged over 7.5% per year for more than a decade. Today, the Maldives' largest industry is tourism, accounting for 28% of GDP and more than 60% of the Maldives' foreign exchange receipts. Fishing is the second leading sector.[citation needed]
    The Maldivian economy is to a large degree based on tourism. In late December 2004, the major tsunami left more than 100 dead, 12,000 displaced, and property damage exceeding $400 million. As a result of the tsunami, the GDP contracted by about 3.6% in 2005. A rebound in tourism, post-tsunami reconstruction, and development of new resorts helped the economy recover quickly and showed an 18% increase on 2006. 2007 estimates show the Maldives enjoy the highest GDP per capita $4,600 (2007 est) amongst south Asian countries"

    Now obviously , they're facing some dilemma, because if tourism shrinks, so will their GDP. So it's understandable that in fact they don't ask for a reduction of tourism; they just ask for more money to be able to cope with the sea level rise - and probably build new hotels and resorts.
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  40. Gilles: "86 : I'm neither assuming mankind is totally rational, nor irrational : I'm only assuming it won't change a lot in the next century. I think it's enough."

    3 weeks ago, nuclear had a strong and promising future. Many people considered it a necessary (at least short term) energy source as we transition to a non-carbon future. No one seriously thought existing capacity would be shuttered before the plant lifespan.

    But the events in Japan have caused Germany to swear off nuclear. Other countries are giving it another look (ending nuclear). Japan is probably done with nuclear. So major economies are contemplating an complete deletion of nuclear from their portfolios.

    It is important to understand human nature. To say "human behavior won't change in the 21st century" is to fail to understand human nature. It is human nature that will not change, not human behavior.

    For example, at the beginning of the 20th century - hardly anyone drove automobiles (they weren't mass produced yet). NO ONE flew. No one at all. It hadn't been invented yet.

    So obviously we (humans) react to new information and new technology. The early adopters are already creating net zero homes and transportation that uses zero carbon (electric cars powered by solar/wind).

    This seems to be a flaw in most of your posts - assuming that humans do not take in new information, and change their behavior accordingly, but you only have to study a little history to realize the opposite is true.
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  41. Gilles, I am fully, gratefully, joyfully aware of my great privilege in living in such a wealthy country for the last 60+ years.

    What I was indirectly alluding to was the fact that every single one of us has options that are limited by the action or inactions of our societies. 50 years ago my mum wouldn't have needed anyone to take her shopping. Everything came to the door in our suburbs, bread, milk, greengrocer. Butcher shop and grocery items had to be ordered one way or another, but those items were also delivered by schoolboys earning a bit of pocketmoney pushing a very large bicycle around the place.

    Many people would use mass transit if they could but it's simply not available in many of our low density suburbs. Americans and Australians would happily use comfortable high-speed trains rather than air travel between their closer cities - if only it were available. I would have bought an EV if such a thing had been on the market.

    And for other options limited by decisions about technology. Japan is now imposing blackouts to manage the lack of power. Why? There is no lack of power. The problem is that an antiquated system has been allowed to persist and expand while limiting transmission between the east and west of the main island. 50 hertz one side, 60 hertz the other and only 1, one!, gigawatt capacity of transmission between the two systems.

    That to me is the essence of the problem. We live with what we've got and we allow patently inadequate, or downright foolish, initial decisions to perpetuate and eventually distort vital systems. Hindsight is now telling the Japanese they should have invested more in some things, like transmission, nuclear safety and wind power and a lot less in others, write your own list.

    The same thing applies to us. We shouldn't need tragedy of biblical proportions to learn the same lessons.
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  42. Adelady, as I said, I live in France that may have achieved a large part of the program you'd like to apply to Australia and America - we have a lot of decarbonated electricity, good and modern electric trains , a lot of small cities with good public transportation where people can go to work without cars. Actually this has an effect - an average French guy produces only 6 tCO2/yr, much better than americans and australians. So i'm not saying that all progress is impossible. I just say they're limited. You should consider that the difference in consumption is partly due to historical and geographical disparities that you can't wipe off easily. You must heat in cold countries - and air conditioning , if not necessary, is considered as a normal comfort in hot ones. If Europe has small historical town centers with a very concentrated population, cities in new world countries have been built in the XXth century together with the development of cars and they are much more spread - you can't change that in a few decades; so you can't change rapidly the different conditions that led to differences in energy intensity (BTW as Actuallythoughtful remarked , nuclear industry that is one of the main reason for the low carbon intensity of France has dark perspectives ..). You seem to think that you could live like now with any technique - I can't understand the logics behind. That's just wishful thinking. The current way of life is just a by-product of very specific conditions that happened only once in the history of mankind : an enormous thermo-industrial society powered by the massive combustion of fossil fuels. Seen at a geological scale, combustion of FF is really an explosion : sudden combustion in a very short time. This explosion will last a few hundreds years, which is like one second in the year when compared to the age of the Earth. Now you're saying : once this explosion will be over, there will be no problem to keep living like that even after the fuel has totally disappeared - i see absolutely no reason to justify that.
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  43. Interested readers willl find Gilles' questions about air conditioning, heating and other areas of the world addressed here. The reference linked there proposes to use renewable energy for all current uses of Fossil Fuels. They calculate the material needs and costs. It is possible to live similarly to current lifestyles using renewable energy.
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  44. Gilles, you're certainly right about Oz and USA consumption. Our houses are dreadfully designed and built for this (or any) environment. We have far and away the biggest carbon footprint of the OECD countries, Canada's between us and the USA.

    I don't think we can continue to have the biggest houses in the world. Most Australian capital cities are on the list of 10-15 least affordable places to live in the world - that can't continue. OTOH, insulation, ventilated roofs to remove the heat reservoir in our ceiling spaces, passive environmentally sensible design should remove most of the 'need' for our excessive use of air conditioners. I don't have one but have an old house with very, very high ceilings. Livable in all but the very worst heatwaves.

    And I'm a lot more optimistic than you about the declining cost of wind and solar. I'm also very impressed by technologies like metal roof panels precoated with solar collecting material and similar window films. Not economic yet, but soon, very soon.

    My preference for places with ludicrously high consumption like ours is major investment in negawatts, rather than alternative sources to maintain our totally unnecessary consumption (esp of that diabolical brown coal used in Victoria.) Though here we get 15% of our power from wind already and the only reason it's not more is grid inadequacy near a couple of prime wind generating sites.

    Basically I'm more optimistic than you. Equally, I'm irritated by people insisting on staying with what I see as primitive technology. No matter how you cut it, burning stuff to initiate other processes that eventually finish up producing power is Victorian. The fact that we build bigger and better with more concrete can't change the fact that this is crude technology. I prefer sophisticated.
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  45. So basically, you're arguing that mankind would have much less difficulties to replace 80 % of its energy sources, than to face a few degrees more on the Earth?

    the weird thing is that when I look at individual persons, I would be inclined to think exactly the opposite. Strangely enough, your own ancestors must have left spontaneously at some time a temperate and rainy country to go living in a much hotter and desert one... certainly a much brutal change for them than any local climate change .. and apparently they must have been rather successful yet !
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  46. Straw man. To reduce rate of climate change, you dont need to replace all fossil fuel use immediately. Just that in fairness, the big cuts need to be made in the West. (cue for Gilles to go off-topic on social justice issue).

    As to hazard, well looking at WG2, I'd say yes. (and if a warmist used comparison of migration to climate change, I doubt you would have much trouble refuting it).
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  47. Spontaneous? Choosing the desert? The Irish left their green and very unpleasant land because they had to. My Swedish sailor great-grandfather jumped ship here to avoid an arranged marriage. My Rum Corps ancestor was a soldier who chose to stay on in the lush sub-tropical environment north of Sydney. And then their children grew up used to this environment - although they wrecked most of it by applying farming techniques from Europe.

    And yes. I am "arguing that mankind would have much less difficulties to replace 80 % of its energy sources, than to face a few degrees more on the Earth?"

    If you've never tried living in never-ending heat above 35C that occasionally warms up to 41+ or more, you wouldn't be so sanguine about the whole of mankind being able to cope with "a few degrees more". Those few degrees represent a =lot= of intolerable degrees for those on the high side of the average. I might swelter here from time to time, but the earth's average ensures that a lot of people are simultaneously sheltering from freezing.

    Let's face it, if there are to be a "few degrees more" then insulation and building re-design will be required expenditures anyway. Why not spend the money first and possibly maintain the capacity to work or play outside in more congenial temperatures? Double win. You have a better life in more comfortable surroundings. If your local climate worsens, you've already got your protection in place. If avoiding CO2 emissions manages to keep your local climate more livable, you've got a better workplace and house than you would have had if the changes hadn't been made.

    What's the problem?
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  48. I dont think Gilles believes that for a moment - he is specialist in debating tricks. But on off chance, the commonest adaptation is migration - any choice for salted deltas? How many million refugees is France taking? Is that preferable to changing energy source?
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  49. scaddenp, I hadn't thought of that. North Africa is a lot closer to Europe than any part of Europe ever was to Oz or USA.

    Make a choice.
    1) Offer a few North African countries some set number of millions of dollars to host CSP (and storage) and export it to Europe. Use this power for everything including transport.
    2) Spend unknown millions of dollars dealing with economic and climate refugees from Africa and within Europe at the same time as finding the cash for untold millions of adaptation costs for your own country. Keep on trying to spend at this rate while facing up to increasing costs of absolutely everything including power and transport fuels as well as relocating your own citizens and important facilities like sewage plants away from rising sea levels.

    Which option sounds better? What other options are available?
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  50. Gilles.

    'A few degrees' has one major and overriding implication. Food Supply. Water Stress, Desertification, Erratic Weather and thus unreliable water supply, melting Glaciers etc. Yes we might be able to open up new farm land at higher latitudes but there is less land there and the transition to making previously unfarmed Tundra for example workable may take time. In a world of 9-10 billion people it doesn't take much disruption to existing farming regions to trigger massive famines.

    Whereas significant cuts to energy consumption? So some of the consumer society goes away - no loss. Did our grandparents have such terrible lives 50 years ago?. Of course in any energy reduced world we could still prioritise the important stuff - hygiene, health care, medicines etc. No more SUV's, $20 air fares, mountains of pointless consumer crap. Who cares about lossing the detritus of life?
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