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Richard Alley - We Can Afford Clean Energy

Posted on 29 April 2012 by dana1981

Re-posted from Climate Crocks, an excellent video showing Richard Alley debunking the myths Renewable energy is too expensive and CO2 is not a pollutant in one fell swoop.  This video is well worth watching:

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Comments 51 to 74 out of 74:

  1. Steve- Please put some numbers to paper.... you're as amorphous as any climate change denier. At 132000 TWhr/yr 2008 Energy Utilization, I can invest with present $ and technology in wind power, and let's say we did 500Billion/year...vs my calculation above that gets us over 1 terrawatt per year....and in 50 years we're around 1/2 way there from wind alone. It's just resource allocation. If we were faced with a 4th of July style alien invasion is there any doubt we could rassle up as much money as we wanted to? War powers do odd things to financial systems. Now if we only had a room temperature super conductor.
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  2. Dana1981 Surely you are not suggesting Copenhagen was a success? If so by what measure?
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  3. Tragedy of the commons is the same as what economists describe as a competitive marketplace.
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  4. Dave123, thanks for the reference. Here is the abstract of Barati et al:
    "Molten slags represent one of the largest untapped energy sources in metal manufacturing operations. The waste heat of slags amounting to ∼220 TWh/year at temperatures in the range of 1200–1600 °C, presents an opportunity to lower the energy intensity of metal production. Currently, three types of technologies are under development for utilizing the thermal energy of slags; recovery as hot air or steam, conversion to chemical energy as fuel, and thermoelectric power generation. The former route is most developed with its large scale trials demonstrating recovery efficiencies up to 65%. The latter two are emerging as the next generation methods of waste heat recovery. An evaluation of these methods shows that for both thermal and chemical energy recovery routes, a two-step process would yield a high efficiency with minimal technical risk. For thermoelectric power generation, the use of phase change materials appears to solve some of the current challenges including the mismatch between the slag temperature and operating range of thermoelectric materials."
    The current ability to recover of 65% of waste heat as energy, I think, effectively rebuts realist @36.
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  5. Realist @52:
    "Surely you are not suggesting Copenhagen was a success?"
    No, if I was going to suggest it was a success, I would call it a success. I'm talking about the purpose of international climate conferences, not their success rate. Realist @53:
    "Tragedy of the commons is the same as what economists describe as a competitive marketplace."
    No, it's not. You could argue that it's an unfortunate aspect of a competitive marketplace, but the two are not equivalent.
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  6. steve from virginia @45, in fact the system of dumping waste into the streets did involve an enterprise, and Alley clearly states. Specifically, "In the early 1800s, night-soil haulers in places such as London, Paris and Edinburgh removed the human output to the countryside, where it was used as fertilizer." (p216) He later goes on to discuss the potential implications this had on decision making to switch to modern sewage systems. It speaks ill for your case that you must continually misrepresent the contents of Alley's video and book in order to make it. More directly to your case, the loss of asset value following new inventions is never a consideration in the deployment of that invention, or at least it should not be. The invention of electronic calculators made the technology for mechanical adding machines largely obsolete. That was not a reason to forbid the manufacture and sale of electronic calculators, despite the loss of asset value for patent holders and makers of mechanical adding machines. Nor, in an earlier period, was the potential loss of employment to stable hands, and loss in asset value for horse breeders a reason for Henry Ford to not make the model T. In like manner, the loss of "asset value" of fossil fuels is no reason to not shift to renewables. This is particularly the case in that the supposed asset value of those fossil fuels consists largely in the fact that private enterprise gets to internalize the value of the benefits of the fossil fuels, while society at large is expected to pay the costs. Where the costs, including the costs of the full impact of global warming, where internalized to the producers of fossil fuels, the "asset value" of their reserves would be much smaller, and possibly even constitute a net debt, with each gallon of oil pumped impoverishing the oil producer, even before the costs of pumping it were included. People would be a lot wiser in economic decisions if they realized that "assets" and "debts" are mutually agreed upon fictions. They have no material existence, but rather consist solely of agreements made between people. Those fictions are often very useful fictions, but if you reify them you get Great Depressions, Global Financial Crises, and if we accept steve from virginia's analysis, the persistence in a ruinous policy because people with poor foresight, and a poorer conscious, decided to invest in fossil fuels rather than renewables. Well, the economic consequences of their unwise investment are their problems, not ours.
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  7. Dana1981 That may be purpose of a climate conference, but as Copenhagen was not a success we are back to the situation i described where nations are clearly making decisions to optimise their own position ie doing nothing, or lobbying for grants
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  8. Tom, As I understand it, no one has implemented these methods. The problem continues to be that slag is produced on a semicontinuous basis, and you don't want any screwup in energy extraction to affect the production of the steel itself. From my own perspective, the chemical route is interesting, but the kinds of endothermic reactions that could use this degree of heat are best managed in a fully continuous operation. A carousel of tundish operations comes to mind...and it's conceptually not dissimilar to the use of ion-exchange columns in a continuous process. (One is exchanging, one on standby, the third regenerating). (Of course it's not the same, hence the tortured formulation of conceptually not dissimilar).
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  9. I think for a slag waste heat recovery system the economics might come down to risk. Even with a reasonable heat recovery and generation ability, the savings are small compared to the production costs of a steel furnace. If the generation system caused 1 day of lost steel production through slag blockages or any other reason and such reasons cannot be eliminated, it may be a very long while before the losses are made up.
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  10. Realist @59, I agree. However, that is just another way of saying the cost of the energy lost as waste heat in the production process is small relative to the total production costs. If that remains the case into the future, then the energy costs continue to be small, so that waste heat is not a significant problem. On the other hand, if energy costs increase as Dave 123 expects, then recovering waste heat will be economical, and most of the waste heat will be recoverable as energy. In either event, waste heat from steel manufacture does not shown any particular impediment to conversion to a renewable economy.
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  11. @ Tom Curtis, I wanted to ask if you know of a way to ask a question about a paper here at skeptical science.
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  12. steve from virginia @45: "Alley's supposition is incorrect because it does not include the economic effect of a successful conversion on competitors." In many big European cities there was a job-intensive industry built around human waste disposal: emptying cess pits, hauling waste out of the city and selling it to farmers for fertilizer. Indeed, there was a lot of opposition to building proper sewage facilities from various vested interests, complacent government and even civil libertarians in the Victorian period. See my post on the Great Stink of London. "We cannot get a grip on our climate, fuel, food, water and other resource problems without acknowledging there will be large trade-offs and sacrifices. We cannot 'have it all'. " I tend to agree. The costs of mitigation are downplayed sometimes and the challenge we face in getting rid of carbon emissions is often made to sound too easy. However, if the world can afford spend 2.6% of its GDP on the military, as it does now, surely it could spend half of that sum instead on fighting climate change. The hardest part is the politics, not the economics or the engineering.
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  13. Andy #62 Why stop at cutting the military budget by half? You could also cut the budget of all police forces, justice systems and prisons by half to raise even more funds.
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  14. Realist @63 I wasn't actually advocating cutting the military budget, just pointing out that if we can afford spending sums like that protecting one country from possible threats from another, we could perhaps spend a smaller sum to protect everyone from probable harm resulting from everyone else's emissions. If we don't mitigate emissions, I expect that we'll have to increase military budgets to cope with the imbalances that climate change will provoke. The US military actually has a rather sane perspective on climate change, as Peter Sinclair's excellent video shows: US Military Forges Ahead with Climate Security. Deniers Still Looking for WMDs.
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  15. Andy I agree. Many countries would not be what they are today without what the US military budget has done for them. Poland, France, England, Australia, Libya to name a few.
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  16. Fantasist @65 holds cheap the Australian lives spent in support of their ally in Korea, Vietnam, Somalia, Iraq and Afganistan - conflicts in which Australia had (and in the case of Afghanistan, has) no national security interest. He thereby demonstrates not only that his world view is delusional, but that it is offensive as well.
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  17. Realist, you seem to be missing the point - military budgets show that governments can raise the budgets to combat significant external threats. Climate change is surely one. If averting an asteroid strike required a similar expenditure without the ability to know who was going to take the main punch, do think we could raise the money? Or would the problem be so politically tough that we would take the "adaption" route and hope some other country would take the direct hit?
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  18. Realist @ 65: that comment is underhanded and has nothing to do with the reality of the current geopolitical situation. If your allusion to France, England and Australia is in reference to WWII (which it inevitably is), then relating that to the current idea of "budget" is inappropriate. The circumstances back then (70 years ago) were so completely different as to make any discussion of "budget" misplaced and misleading. There was a world war against a madly destructive ideology. The situation was dire. It was not a matter of working out a budget but of devoting all available resources to the highest priority of the moment. Comparing that to anything happening nowadays
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    Moderator Response: [Dikran Marsupial] Accusation of dishonesty snipped. Please accept my applogies, more was snipped than I had intended.
  19. Phillippe [snip]. Libya, Afghanistan, Bali twin towers etc come to mind You can't wait for a war before forming a military. My reference to France and England was a reference to those saved by previous US budgets (and implied short memories). Scaddenp, you are one of the few who can disagree without resorting to personal insults and name calling which is too common on this site. I won't even bother answering #66. If you are not prepared to say it face to face you shouldnt say it online! No my point is that some people will always argue the military budget is optional or too big, no matter how small. Was probably happening in 1938 too.
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    Moderator Response: [Dikran Marsupial] Inflamatory material snipped. Please can all parties get back to a more civil tone of discussion.
  20. [snip]
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    Moderator Response: [Dikran Marsupial] All concerned need to cool down. Please leave the moderation to the moderators.
  21. #69 "No my point is that some people will always argue the military budget is optional or too big, no matter how small." Umm... you do realize that no one here has made that argument right? I mean, people have pointed that out repeatedly now, but you seem to keep returning to this 'argument' that doesn't actually exist.
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  22. [snip]
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    Moderator Response: [Dikran Marsupial] It is the job of the moderators to draw the line where posts are considered to have contravened the comments policy, not yours. Making unnecessary work for the moderators by repeatedly posting moderation complaints is not doing you any favours. Please restart the discussion in more civil manner as I have asked both sides to do. If you feel a post is offensive, then please feel free to say so, but the best thing to do is not to respond in kind and instead prove your case using rational argument.
  23. [snip]
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    Moderator Response: [Dikran Marsupial] Please note that posting comments here at SkS is a privilege, not a right. This privilege can be rescinded if the posting individual treats adherence to the Comments Policy as optional, rather than the mandatory condition of participating in this online forum.

    Please take the time to review the policy and ensure future comments are in full compliance with it. Thanks for your understanding and compliance in this matter.

    N.B. Your earlier post (#65) was considered to be inflamatory/offensive by at least one poster (and I can understand the reasons). I didn't delete that post either. Perhaps your time might be better spent considering why your post elicited the response that it did, rather than causing unnecessary work for the moderators. This is my last word on the subject.

    Except to say that military budgets are now off-topic for this thread, any further posts that mention this will be deleted.
  24. All participants please note: Realist is just another sock puppet of Delmar/Tealy and will be dealt with accordingly. In the meantime, DNFTT and please return to your normal conversational activities. Have a noice day (pun intended).
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