Archive for the ‘CO2’ Category


Not much of Chinese energy is from wind or solar.

December 2, 2013

A few days ago I wrote about the pollyannish belief that “China is slowing its carbon emissions.”  An essential element of this ridiculous meme is that the Chinese are producing significant portions of their energy via wind and solar. Not true.

Consider just electricity.   Here is a breakdown of China’s installed electricity capacity by fuel type in 2011 and their electricity generation by fuel type for 2000 to 2010 from the The United Stages’ Energy Information Administration’s evaluation of China’s energy consumption (2012)…

"China's installed electricity capacity by fuel, 2011," from the US Energy Information Administration's evaluation of China's energy consumption

“China’s installed electricity capacity by fuel, 2011,” from the US Energy Information Administration’s evaluation of China’s energy consumption

"China's electricity generation by fuel type, 2000-2010" from the US's Energy Information Administration

“China’s electricity generation by fuel type, 2000-2010” from the US’s Energy Information Administration

What do these charts tell you?

These two charts are drawn from the same data set and appear next to each other in the same document.

As you can see from the top chart, 6.2% of China’s installed electricity capacity is in wind or solar.  That is over 60 gigawatts installed.  Compare that the the US’s 60 gigawatts of installed wind and 10 gigawatts of installed solar.

Alas, the top chart shows installed capacity, not actual production.  There is a little thing called the “capacity factor.”  The capacity factor is the fraction of the time that particular power source can actually produce power at its rated capacity.  For example, a one gigawatt capacity nuclear power plant will have a capacity factor of about 90%, meaning it can produce one gigawatt 90% of the time.  Wind and solar capacity factors tend to be much lower, simply because sometimes the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine.  The capacity factor for wind in China is 22%

The second chart shows the amount of electrical energy actually produced using the various “fuel types”.  Do you see that very, very thin yellow band along the top of the second chart?  That represents the Chinese electricity generation due to that 6.2% of installed wind and solar.  Can’t see the yellow line?  Let me blow up the last year of the chart for you…

Chinas electricity generation by fuel type blown up 3

That 6.2% of installed capacity in the form of wind and solar yields less than 1.5% of the actual energy.

China’s energy future

The Energy Information Administration document tells us…

China is the world’s second largest power generator behind the US, and net power generation was 3,965 Terawatt-hours (TWh) in 2010, up 15 percent from 2009. Nearly 80 percent of generation is from fossil fuel-fired sources, primarily coal. Both electricity generation and consumption have increased by over 50 percent since 2005, and EIA predicts total net generation will increase to 9,583 TWh by 2035, over 3 times the amount in 2010.

Wow!  three times as much as 2010, a mere 21 years from now!  Where will all this energy come from?

Again, the Energy Information Administration…

Total fossil fuels, primarily coal, currently make up nearly 79 percent of power generation and 71 percent of installed capacity. Coal and natural gas are expected to remain the dominant fuel in the power sector in the coming years. Oil-fired generation is expected to remain relatively flat in the next two decades. In 2010, China generated about 3,130 TWh from fossil fuel sources, up 11 percent annually.

Let me be clear, I am not knocking the use of wind and solar.  I have been personally working on solar energy for 17 years.  But I am knocking unrealistic expectations and quasi-religious environmentalist beliefs.  And I am not criticizing the Chinese for their increasing energy consumption.  They understand, correctly, that abundant energy is the key to prosperity.


Michael Mann’s delusional fever

November 29, 2013
Michael Mann's fevered dream

Michael Mann’s fevered dream

Ever read the New York Times?  Wadda ya think, does it veer persistantly to the left?  Is the Pope Catholic?

Well, Michael Mann has been huffing and puffing at the Huffington Post that the New York Times has strayed from his approved dogmatism concerning global warming.  They dared to run an opinion piece by Richard Muller.

Richard Muller lives happily on the alarmist side of the road, but on occasion he lets his toes cross the dividing line, so that he can claim some credit for being open-minded.

In a recent op-ed he must have touched one of Mann’s extremely frayed nerves when he said…

“I worried that the famous “hockey stick” graph plotted by three American climatologists in the late 1990s portrayed the global warming curve with too much certainty and inappropriate simplicity.”

Ouch.  This was simply Muller’s demure way of stating the obvious. Of course, the main “American climatologist” who made this graph of “inappropriate simplicity” is none other than Michael Mann.  Muller’s soft punch of a statement seems to have left a big bruise on Mann’s sensitive ego.

Mann thinks The New York Times never should have let Muller engage in this attack on his crowning achievement.  But then the Times went even further and let the apostate spread even more heresy in a second op-ed about tornadoes.  Muller wrote

Despite the recent spate of deadly twisters, including those that tore through the Midwest over the weekend, the scientific evidence shows that strong to violent tornadoes have actually been decreasing for the past 58 years, and it is possible that the explanation lies with global warming…

I am not talking about global warming per se, which I am convinced is real and caused by man-made emissions of greenhouse gases. But not everything attributed to global warming has a scientific basis…

So let’s consider only the most violent tornadoes, the ones in categories EF3 to EF5…

NOAA… shows that the number of these storms has been significantly decreasing over the past 58 years, from over 50 per year in the first half to under 40 per year in the second. The statistical significance of this decrease is extremely high: well above 99 percent confidence.

How dare Muller display such an attitude!

Mann is especially incensed that Muller quoted from an earlier HuffPost article which said…

Michael Mann, a climatologist who directs the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, agreed that it’s too early to tell.  “If one factor is likely to be favorable and the other is a wild card, it’s still more likely that the product of the two factors will be favorable,” said Mann. “Thus, if you’re a betting person — or the insurance or reinsurance industry, for that matter — you’d probably go with a prediction of greater frequency and intensity of tornadoes as a result of human-caused climate change.”

But Muller wrote

Michael E. Mann, a prominent climatologist, was only slightly more cautious. He said, “If you’re a betting person — or the insurance or reinsurance industry, for that matter — you’d probably go with a prediction of greater frequency and intensity of tornadoes as a result of human-caused climate change.”

Mann called this innocent contraction “sleight of hand.”  Touchy, touchy.

Mann uses his mighty reasoning powers to discern a conspiracy.  You can’t be too careful when even your friends are out to get you.  He warns us that this is ultimately the work of the Koch brothers, just like every other vile conspiracy against the goodness and light of global warming alarmism and the left in general.  (It used to be Dick Cheney and Halliburton, but I guess they must have passed the world control levers over to the Koch brothers.)  You see, Richard Muller now controls the New York Times, and the Koch brothers control Richard Muller.

Mann wraps his tin foil a little tighter and lectures…

The New York Times does a disservice to its readers when it buys into the contrived narrative of the “honest broker”–Muller as the self-styled white knight who must ride in to rescue scientific truth from a corrupt and misguided community of scientists. Especially when that white knight is in fact sitting atop a Trojan Horse–a vehicle for the delivery of disinformation, denial, and systematic downplaying of what might very well be the greatest threat we have yet faced as a civilization, the threat of human-caused climate change.

Shame on you New York Times. You owe us better than this.

You can get the full temperature of Mann’s paranoid delusional fever at his Huffington Post’s article, Something Is Rotten at the New York Times.


Profound insight from the National Research Council

June 25, 2012

The National Research Council has released a hard-hitting report about global sea level, and in particular, sea level along the western coast of the United States.  Yup, they really nailed it down.  They predict the sea level along California’s coast to rise somewhere between 4 and 30 cm (between 1.5 and 12 inches) between 2000 and 2030 (see page 5).

Their report is hundreds of pages long because they are very smart people.  But if you want to save some time, you can get an idea of what is really happening by looking at the following three images.  Click on each image to put it in animation mode in its own window.  There is one animation for each of the coasts of California, Oregon and Washington state. 

Be sure to notice the sea level rise rate centered above each graph.  Keep in mind that a 30 cm sea level rise in 30 years requires an average of 10 mm per year.

Click on image to start animation in new window

California sea level data.  Click image to start animation in a new window.

Click image to start animation in new window.

Washington sea level data. Click image to start animation in new window.

Click image to start animation in a new window.

Washington sea level data. Click image to start animation in a new window.

We are already 12 years into the 30 from 2000 to 2030.  As you can see from the above animated plots, there appears to have been a distinct lack of acceleration in the last 100 years or so.  Roughly speaking, the sea level along the coast of California is rising at about 2 mm/year.  So it looks like there will be  a net rise surpassing the National Research Council’s lower limit of 4 cm in 30 years.  On the other hand, it would require an extraordinary, nearly impossible acceleration to get to 15 cm, just half the NRC’s upper estimate of 30 cm, by 2030.  But you can still pray to Gaia for a miracle.

A sure sign of poor scholarship

Here is a little hint for my obvious betters at the NRC: When you rely on the models of Stefan Rahmstorf to make your sea level rise predictions, one of two things will have happened by 2030.  If you are lucky your report will have been forgotten.  If you are unlucky people will simply be laughing at you.

Well, I suppose you can hope for that big earthquake that your report says (page 7) could cause the sea level to rise by an additional meter.  You’d have it made if you could blame atmospheric CO2 for earthquakes.  Your elite thinkers should start working on that paper now.


Pop Quiz!

February 11, 2012

Have you seen the video on my previous post?  Here is a pop quiz (and opinion poll) to see if you were paying attention.   You can review the video (or see it for the first time) here.


Modern Luddites

December 31, 2011

A friend of yours

Suppose a friend of yours believes that the world is facing a dire future because of too much CO2 in the atmosphere.  The problem seems clear to him, he says, and so does the best course of action.  The fossil fuel powering of the world must come to an end.

He knows that bringing that end about is very difficult, but he perseveres.  It will be very expensive.   Many of the worlds assets will be consumed replacing a thriving fossil fuel based economy with a new “cleaner” economy.

The entire world must be convinced to cooperate, so he cajoles and he scolds.  The standard of living of the wealthy nations must be reduced.  The rest who are embracing the benefits of an energy rich society for the first time will have to wait.

Huge administrative changes will be needed, so he manuevers for control.  Great swathes of the planets landscape will have to be altered to accommodate some combination of wind power, solar power and biofuel production.

But he also has faith that the hardships of his solution will be offset by other (perhaps vague) benefits beyond the reduction of CO2.

A new idea

Now suppose along comes somebody who has another idea to solve the problem: an idea that might not result in a huge disruption of the economy. It’s an idea that might not result in all the hardships.  It is only an idea, in its infancy.  He would like your friend to take a look at it.

What does your friend say?  Does he say “Let’s see this new idea, look at the pros and cons.  Let’s run some simple tests.”  Or does he say “Go away!” and stick his fingers in his ears and say “NANANANANA – I can’t hear you – NANANANANA.”

Would you doubt your friends sincerity, or even his sanity, if he chose the latter response?

Suppose the idea was this…

The Stratospheric Particle Injection for Climate Engineering (SPICE) study, which considers the possibility spraying sulphur particles into the stratosphere, like a volcano, to force global cooling.  This is a big idea and it would be no simple feat to accomplish. What are the advantages and disadvantages?  Who knows?

The stratosphere is 20 km above the surface of the Earth.  The amount of material that would be required is enormous.  The idea is that huge balloons would pull hoses up into the stratosphere and particulate material would be pumped up from the ground.   

It is worth at least thinking about.  A small-scale project to test of the concept was planned in the UK for this fall.  A balloon would hoist a hose only one kilometer and water would be pumped into the atmosphere. 

Image is from "Good governance for geoengineering," Nature, 479, November 2011

Modern Luddites

Alas, this experiment may never take place because a lot of people like your friend may have killed it.  In effect, they said “Go away!” and stuck their fingers in their ears and chanted “NANANANANA – I can’t hear you – NANANANANA.”

According to Nature  (the journal where every environmentalist is a saint),

“the EPSRC [UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council], one of the study’s main funders… received a letter and open petition, also sent to UK energy and climate-change secretary Chris Huhne and signed by more than 50 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil-society organizations, demanding that the project be cancelled.”

The source of the letter and petition?  An organization called “Hands Off Mother Earth.”  The 75 or so signatory organizations to the petition include the following organizations: Amigos da Terra Brasil, Earthpeoples, Gaia Foundation, and my favorite, the Gender Climate Caucus.

Their letter states…

We believe the experiment planned to test equipment for injecting particles into the stratosphere with the aim of counteracting global warming through solar radiation management (SRM) should be cancelled…We believe that such research is a dangerous distraction from the real need: immediate and deep emissions cuts.

In other words, they do not want a simple test of an alternative idea.  I believe that makes them anti-science and anti-reason, modern luddites.


Rahmstorf on peer-review vs. the rabble

January 2, 2011

Stefan Rahmstorf has made a (vague) response to my questions about updated sea level data and groundwater depletion.  His response, which can be seen as the second comment here is …

“Science progresses by peer-reviewed publications, not blogs. We are well advanced in preparing a paper that includes the latest sea level data and groundwater pumping estimates, as well as looking at a number of other factors. That will be up for discussion once it appears in the peer-reviewed literature. (Without giving away too much, I can probably already say that we come to different conclusions from what you claim.)”

The progress of science

”Science progresses by peer-reviewed publications, not blogs.” That’s an interesting position from Rahmstorf, since he is a principal contributor to the RealClimate blog. Perhaps RealClimate is to be seen not as a blog, but as a pulpit from which Rahmstorf can preach to the faithful as they sit at his feet and listen in awe. Science does not progress there, it just gets passed down from on high by the priests. Rahmstorf may even deign to take questions from the faithful, as long as they keep their eyes lowered and remember their station. But the real progress can only be made by authors and peer-reviewers when the room has been cleared of the unwashed.

The striking thing about Rahmstorf’s response is that he thinks he has the authority to dictate how “Science progresses.” Anything that deviates from the comfortable format where he wears the mantle of authority is not worthwhile. This is pretty much the attitude that I expected from him.

Peer-review comfort zone

We all understand the peer-review paradigm. A paper is written for publication, but first submitted it to a group of peers for review. The peers’ criticisms are dealt with in a way to make the paper a stronger piece of work.

This peer-review process evolved when communication was slower, contemplation times were longer, and the participants inhabited small esoteric worlds in which the rabble had little interest and rarely visited. It works well with dry questions of science and engineering.

Scientists are human beings and many, as they age, become comfortable in their way of doing things. They build their careers on the model of publishing papers, reviewing papers, and attending conferences. They have paid their dues and they expect their status to be respected.

In the world of climate science some “experts” have puffed themselves beyond the bounds of their arcane niches and on to the political stage.  The peer review process becomes fraught with intrigue when the science is saturated with politics, or when sycophantic peers become rubber stamps. 

Peers or sycophants?

What does “peer-reviewed” mean to Stefan Rahmstorf? An email he sent me three years ago is enlightening. The Journal Science, probably the most influential journal in the world, had published his widely circulated paper “A Semi-Empirical Approach to Projecting Future Sea-Level Rise” about six months before. He sent me the code used to make his projections of “future sea-level rise” and told me “you are the first outside person to test this code.” In other words, peer-review for Rahmstorf and Science includes sycophants from his group, but not an “outside person.”

Up for discussion

Stefan, I have been pointing out flaws in your work and conclusions for quite a while now.   You say these issues “will be up for discussion” when your encyclical “appears in the peer-reviewed literature.”  This is another place where your are wrong.  They are already very much “up for discussion” whether or not you have given permission.

The fear of sea level rise is being used to influence world-wide political and social movements.  You are at the forefront of the sea level rise scare.  This wrenches all of your work from the ivory tower and places it in the middle of  the town square.

Communication is fast now, the rabble has taken an interest, and many are not inclined to genuflect before the experts curriculum vitae.  It is only beginning to dawn on many of the anointed that the internet may pull the rug out from under their claims of impending climate disaster.  The peasants have breached the gate and are questioning the infallibility of their supposed betters.

I will continue to criticize your past work, and you can bet that I will be dissecting your future work.  And I will not recognize some special status that elevates you above your critics.  So if you want to be considered something other than an overwrought alarmist, you better start getting things right.


What is RealClimate afraid of?

December 10, 2010

I left a comment over at RealClimate on December 4th 6th and they deleted it.   I expected them to delete it, since that is what they have done before.  I had the foresight to take a screen shot of their page with the comment and you can read it by clicking on the following image.  Yes it was off-topic, but they don’t seem to delete other off-topic (sycophantic) comments.   You can make your own judgement about why they deleted it.   

My comment dealt with a very serious issue that needs to be addressed by Stefan Rahmstorf – he can only ignore it for so long.

The issues pointed out in the comment are covered in more depth here, here, and here.

If you have read the three above links, then please answer the following poll…

I’m sorry that I spelled “Rahmstorf” incorrectly in the salutation of my comment.  My name is also frequently spelled wrong, but I’m used to it.