At last, an intelligent solution to the problem of global warming

Sequestration of carbon dioxide emissions from a thermal power plant

I’d like to draw readers’ attention to an excellent article in Quartz magazine (December 4, 2017) by Akshat Rathi, titled, Humanity’s fight against climate change is failing. One technology can change that. Dr. Rathi has a Ph.D. in chemistry from Oxford, and his article is based on lengthy conversations with more than 100 academics, entrepreneurs, policy experts, and government officials.

What changed my mind

Until recently, if someone had told me that global warming may have severe ecological consequences for the planet, I would have responded as follows: “Look, you might well be right. But the fact is, we don’t have a practical solution to the problem of global warming. Renewable energy simply won’t work. You want proof? Go and have a look at Vaclav Smil’s one-page online article, What I see when I see a wind turbine. Smil concludes that modern civilization will remain fundamentally dependent on fossil fuels for decades to come. Smil is Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Faculty of Environment at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. Bill Gates reads him. Obviously, the man knows what he’s talking about.”

I would have also pointed to a 2017 article in PNAS (vol. 114, no. 26, 6722–6727, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1610381114) by Christopher T. M. Clack et al., titled, Evaluation of a proposal for reliable low-cost grid power with 100% wind, water, and solar, which utterly demolished the widely touted claims made by Professor Mark Jacobson of Stanford University, that the planet could be powered by 100% renewable energy. The authors of the PNAS paper concluded that Jacobson’s analysis contained “errors, inappropriate methods, and implausible assumptions.” To make matters worse, Jacobson’s plan would cost the world a cool 125 trillion dollars (that’s 125 followed by a dozen zeroes), over the next 33 years. That’s about 3.75 trillion dollars a year, which is nearly 5 per cent of the world’s current GDP of 78 trillion dollars. Even if we take into account future growth in the world’s GDP, as well as the possibility of recouping all that money in the future, it’s still a hell of a lot to pay up-front. So I would have concluded that the human race would be better off trying to adapt to climate change, than wasting money trying to fight it without any realistic hope of success.

Well, it turns out that a solution to the problem of global warming is at hand, after all. It’s called carbon capture and storage (CCS). Unlike clean coal technology, which scrubs out sulfur and mercury emissions but leaves the carbon behind, CCS removes carbon dioxide at the point where it is being emitted, and it can be applied not only to oil but to any fossil fuel. Until a few years ago, it was prohibitively expensive, but now, it’s finally become affordable. It’ll cost just 0.5 per cent of the world’s GDP (or 360 billion dollars a year), once it gets up and running. And the technology already exists. After reading Dr. Rathi’s article, I’m now convinced that this is the best game in town. However, I’d be very interested in knowing what other people think.

Why we need Carbon Capture and Storage

In his essay, Dr. Rathi confronts what he calls “the elephant in the room” by posing the question: why do we need to keep burning fossil fuels? Why not just phase them out altogether? Despite the optimistic rhetoric we keep hearing about how renewable fuels are getting cheaper, and how a solution to the storage problem is within sight, there are some very powerful reasons why the world will continue to rely on fossil fuels, for the foreseeable future:

Despite decades of progress, about 80% of the world’s energy still comes from fossil fuels — the same as in the 1970s. Since then, we’ve kept adding renewable capacity, but it hasn’t outpaced the growth of the world’s population and its demand for energy…

Today, about 30% of total world energy (and 40% of the world’s electricity) is supplied by coal, which emits more carbon dioxide per unit of energy produced than nearly any other fuel source…

The hugely valuable oil and gas industries, accounting for 33% and 24% of total world energy use, respectively, are also entrenched…

Even the head of the International Renewable Energy Agency, whose job is to ensure that its more than 180 member countries reach 100% renewable energy, is not exactly gung-ho about the prospects. “In the electricity sector, 100% renewables by 2050 or 2060 may still be achievable,” Adnan Amin told me, “but it’s unlikely to happen for all energy use.” The global electricity sector is responsible for only about 25 per cent of all emissions...

…[T]here is no way to achieve zero emissions through subsidies and taxes that are within the bounds of what would reasonably ensure that the global economy doesn’t come to a complete halt. (For coal, for example, these would be in the range of … 80 dollars per metric ton of CO2 emitted). You need something else to reduce emissions. Carbon-capture technologies are essential.

If you’re still not convinced, consider this: there are a handful of industries essential to the modern way of life that generate large amounts of carbon dioxide as a side product of the chemistry of their manufacturing process. These carbon-intensive industries — including cement, steel, and ethanol — produce about 20 per cent of all global emissions. If we want to keep using these products and reach zero emissions, the only option is to have these industries deploy carbon capture.

And we need to reach zero emissions, not just in the energy sector, but completely, across every industry and every part of the world.

In a nutshell: Professor Smil is right and Professor Jacobson is dangerously wrong about fossil fuels. They aren’t going away in a hurry. So how can we achieve zero emissions, if we continue to burn these fuels?

The Solution

Petra Nova - W.A. Parish project

A commercially viable carbon capture and storage project already exists in the U.S., and it didn’t require any untested, speculative technology to get off the ground. It’s called the Petra Nova project, and it’s located just outside Houston, Texas. Dr. Rathi describes how it works:

Among a string of failures, Petra Nova stands tall as a carbon-capture project completed on time and within budget. Its success is partly attributable to its use of off-the-shelf technologies that had been tested and proven…

When it started operating earlier this year, it became — and remains — the world’s largest coal power plant with carbon-capture technology, with the capacity to capture more than 90 per cent of its emissions, about 1.6 million metric tons of carbon emissions each year. It cost 1 billion dollars to build, 190 million dollars of which came from the US government…

Petra Nova does all five steps of carbon capture and storage (CCS): generating carbon dioxide, capturing the emissions (which is a two-part process), transporting it to where it will be stored, and injecting it deep underground and then monitoring it.

The generation step is easy. For centuries, we’ve been burning coal to generate heat…

Part one of the capture step involves taking the mixture of gases in the exhaust spewed out by burning coal, typically about 10% carbon dioxide, 10% oxygen, and 80% nitrogen, and separating out the CO2. Carbon dioxide is slightly acidic, which means it will react with a base. Neither oxygen nor nitrogen is acidic, so in this case, if you add a base into the process, it will selectively trap the carbon dioxide from the mixture.

Once the other gases — which don’t have any greenhouse effects — are vented to the atmosphere, part two of the capture step begins: applying heat breaks the bond between carbon dioxide and the base, creating a pure stream of carbon dioxide, which can be captured before it enters the atmosphere. The base can be reused to capture more carbon dioxide.

Separating out the carbon dioxide is necessary because of the next step: compression and transport. Studies have shown that to ideally store carbon dioxide, the gas should be compressed to 100 times the atmospheric pressure. Compressing a gas that much requires a lot of energy…

After the CO2 is compressed, Petra Nova transports it about 80 miles (130 km) via a pipeline built specially to carry high-pressure carbon dioxide without leaking…

Finally, after the carbon dioxide has been transported by pipeline, the gas is injected underground, beneath a depleted oil field.

Sounds fine. But what if the gas doesn’t stay in the ground? And what will we do when we run out of depleted oil fields? Dr. Rathi has anticipated these questions, and he has convincing answers to both of them:

Every time CO2 is pumped into the oil field, about 20 per cent of the gas remains underground. The rest comes back up to the surface with the oil. That CO2-oil mixture is separated by simply lowering the pressure and letting CO2 bubble out of the sticky black liquid. Then the carbon dioxide is recompressed and put back into the field. In the end, all of the greenhouse gas is sequestered...

Enhanced oil recovery currently provides the largest revenue stream for companies capturing carbon dioxide. At a price of about $50 per barrel, Petra Nova is projected to break even—thanks to the extra oil recovered by captured-CO2 injections…

Eventually — it could be a few years, or decades, depending on how fast the world adopts CCS — we’ll exhaust the storage capacity of depleted oil and gas fields. Luckily, carbon dioxide can be also stored in underground saline aquifers, which are water-permeable rocks saturated with salt water. There, the CO2 mixes in with water and remains trapped underground… And CO2 can also be stored in widely available basalt-type rock, where the gas can mineralize into stone (as in Iceland’s Hellisheidi project)…

Is carbon capture and storage financially feasible?

An S-shaped sigmoid curve

Even if carbon capture and storage is technically feasible, it may not prove to be financially feasible. Dr. Rathi has some good news to report on this score: CCS appears to have already reached the critical point required for an energy breakthrough:

Charles Sandstrom at the Chalmers University of Technology notes that many technologies develop along an S-shaped curve, where progress is slow at first, then reaches a breakthrough and from that point on advances rapidly, until the development reaches the upper limits of scientific possibility. Shingles’ team created the Carbon X-Prize because they believe carbon-dioxide conversion technologies are at that inflection point…

To be sure, the laws of thermodynamics state that converting carbon dioxide into a product will require more energy than was produced when a fossil fuel was burned to generate that same CO2. But that doesn’t make it a bad idea. Renewable energy will keep getting cheaper…

“Using abundant renewable cheap energy to do CO2 conversion is no longer crazy,” says Julio Friedmann, a former deputy assistant secretary at the US Department of Energy and an expert in carbon management. “It was crazy three years ago. It’s not crazy now.”…

As most readers will be aware, the storage problem is the chief technical obstacle to making renewable energy work on a large scale – especially in areas where energy needs to be stored from one season to the next. But there’s good news: as Dr. Rathi points out, batteries are incapable of solving this problem, but microbes that convert CO2 into methane can do the job (see Batteries can’t solve the world’s biggest energy-storage problem. One startup has a solution, Quartz, December 11, 2017).

Why governments need to get involved

A coal-fired power plant in Luchegorsk, Russia. A carbon tax would tax the CO2 emitted from the power station

Readers who favor limited government might be wondering why the world’s governments need to get involved in the fight against global warming, if a cost-effective strategy for combating it already exists. Dr. Rathi explains that historically, energy breakthroughs have seldom occurred without massive levels of government support at the beginning. Rathi contends that a tax on carbon would allow government to raise the money required to fund carbon capture and storage, without distorting the market:

Conventional economics suggest we should let technologies compete in a marketplace, and let the best ones win. But, as economist Nicholas Stern puts it, climate change is “the biggest market failure the world has seen.” Most of these nascent carbon-capture technological developments, like other energy technologies, were only born due to government funding. To get them to mature for deployment at scales that would make a difference in our fight against climate change, they’ll need additional government help…

When it comes to greenhouse-gas emissions, one market-friendly government policy is to set a price on carbon production. Economists have already thought this through, developing the concept of a “social cost of carbon” (SCC). A 2014 study looking at different models of SCC concluded that, conservatively, every metric ton of CO2 emitted today will cost the world 125 dollars in future adverse effects...

Apparently the policy works. Norway is on target to achieve zero emissions by 2030, twenty years ahead of schedule. And it managed to achieve that goal with a tax of just 70 dollars per metric ton of carbon dioxide, which is far lower than the “social cost” of carbon, estimated at 125 dollars per metric ton.

What the world needs to do

In order for carbon capture and storage to get off the ground, its supporters need to actively lobby for CCS to get a fair share of the government funding pie. It also needs to counteract slick green propaganda, which maliciously equates it with so-called “clean coal” technologies, which are actually nothing of the sort:

…[T]he US and the rest of the world need to do a lot more, and quickly. Between 2010 and 2016, the world spent 2.3 trillion dollars on renewable energy, largely thanks to government subsidies for the renewable sector (like Germany’s push for solar cells). In the same period, CCS got only 10 billion dollars in investment, according to the International Energy Agency. No surprise then, that the Global CCS Institute, a not-for-profit group funded by governments and corporations, calls for climate-change policy parity: If we want to save the world, the organization argues, we should provide the same incentives to any technology that cuts carbon emissions…

The term “clean coal” is a huge problem. It masks the fact that coal is a dirty source of energy. Current so-called “clean-coal” technologies nearly eliminate sulfur and mercury emissions, but they don’t reduce carbon emissions. And the use of coal is seriously hurting our fight against climate change. At the same time, over the past 20 years, coal has brought electricity for the first time to some 1.6 billion people. And if we care about the development of all people, our energies would be better spent cutting emissions rather than being religious about one fuel or another.

The trouble is that environmentalists conflate “clean coal” with CCS. If the world is to hit zero emissions, we will need to apply CCS not just to coal power plants but also to natural-gas power plants and then to every carbon-emitting industry. In other words, CCS really isn’t about coal. We cannot afford that confusion any more because time is running out…

The bottom line: how much will it cost?

If we’re going to invest in a new technology such as carbon capture and storage, it’s only fair to ask how much it will cost. The answer, according to Dr. Rathi, is about 0.5 per cent of global GDP. When you compare that with Professor Jacobson’s planet-wide renewable energy scheme, which would cost 5 per cent of the world’s GDP, CCS starts to make a lot more sense:

…[T]he long-term economics of CCS seem not only feasible, but eminently reasonable. The International Energy Agency estimates that the world needs to be burying at least 6 billion metric tons of CO2 per year by 2050. Though Petra Nova won’t say it, experts estimate the project’s carbon-capture cost to be about 60 dollars per metric ton of CO2. That’s half the social cost of not capturing the same carbon. Knox, Petra Nova’s spokesperson, says that were the company to build a second unit, costs would be at least 20 per cent lower than the first project, thanks to the lessons learned.

Even using a conservative number, like 60 dollars per metric ton, all the world would need to pay to start to make the CO2 problem go away today is 360 billion dollars. For comparison, the world’s GDP is forecast to be 78 trillion dollars in 2017…

In other words, we could save the planet from disastrous climate change for less than 0.5 per cent of world GDP in today’s economy…

CCS might seem expensive now, but direct-air capture in the second half of the 21st century will cost many multiples more. The reason is simple physics: CCS happens at the source of emissions, which typically contain more than 5 per cent carbon dioxide in the exhaust gas mix. The concentration of CO2 in the air is just 0.04 per cent — 100 times more dilute. Far more energy would be required to pull carbon dioxide straight out of the air, and that means far more money. The most recent estimates suggest the cost of direct-air capture could be as high as 600 dollars per metric ton — nearly 10 times the cost of carbon-capture technologies today

Prevention is better than cure. And, for our dying planet, either is better than doing nothing.

What you can do

The most effective thing that environmentally minded readers can do to advance carbon capture and storage as a technology to combat global warming is to contact the U.S. Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry, on either Facebook or Twitter, and pitch it in a way that appeals to Republicans: it’s technically feasible, affordable, cost-efficient, and a lot cheaper than kicking the can down the road for future generations to deal with. I see no reason why Republicans would oppose a solution like CCS. Who knows? It may prompt a turn-around in U.S. energy policy. Stranger things have happened. The fact is: CCS works. What do we have to lose by trying it?

87 thoughts on “At last, an intelligent solution to the problem of global warming

  1. You have to wonder why people so intent on bringing about the armageddon would be bothered about saving the world from carbon.

  2. Quartz’s main source of revenue is “native advertising.” Sad to say, it appears that the publication has crossed a line, embedding a sponsor’s message in an article not tagged “Sponsor Content.” The article lays on with a mountain of facts and interpretations that are, as best I can tell, correct, but then steers the reader to grossly incorrect conclusions. What an odd coincidence it is that Torley should be Vinnie-on-the-Spot, rebroadcasting the false conclusions, adding a few embellishments of his own, and recommending specific action.

    The thesis of the article hinges on two “How to Lie with Statistics” manipulations, easy enough to discover if you (1) think carefully about what you’re reading and (2) click on links supplied by the author. Vincent Torley has quoted the manipulative passages, but has not included the links. (Hint: You’ll find what is most important to know in the opening of the source that seems most important.)

    To say that Vincent should be ashamed of himself is pointless, given the body of evidence that he is incapable of it. Before showing how easy it is to see what’s wrong in the article, I’m going to give Vincent another chance to show us what he’s made of.

    (Actually, I would prefer that someone else rub Astroturf Vinnie’s nose in his pile of reprocessed excrement — I’m really not up to it at the moment. Most of you know to trust me when I say that there are a couple of elementary statistical gimmicks to be found in the last two passages quoted in the OP. I’m not going to have you pissed off with me for misleading you.)

  3. Tom English,

    Tom,

    I also find Vincent one sided reporting of this technology to be troubling and suspicious to say the least. Just because one guy says a technology that he is going to profit off of is great and has no drawbacks is a fools errand to believe, and then when VJ tells people to contact Rick Perry, it smacks even more of silly propaganda, but having said that, I can’t really tell what your objections, because you seem to be intentionally mysterious about that. Does VJ really expect people here, who have never even heard about this until VJ tells them its good, to suddenly go contacting the energy department? Has he gone completely mad?

    So I doubt very seriously that VJ knows anything about the real costs, the real side effects, the real storage issues, the technical hurdles, and the better alternatives, but still Tom, why are you waiting for someone else to bring up any counter objections?

  4. There is no global warming from people or at all.
    The globe was warmer constantly in the past. In Canada there was a tree line, with remnants today, showing a warmer place just hundreds of thousands of years ago.
    Common sense should teach the glory of the size and processes of the earth makes our puffs very unlikely to be warming anything even for a season.
    Its not warming in Canada. No gators have immigrated yet.

  5. I was grateful for this post, Vince, and was interested in reading it, until I got to this line:

    In a nutshell: Professor Smil is right and Professor Jacobson is dangerously wrong about fossil fuels. They aren’t going away in a hurry.

    At that point, I could see it wasn’t really intended as an impartial look at the problem, but was in the nature of a propaganda piece. Why? Because Jacobson never suggests that fossil fuels are “going away in a hurry,” and the bullet paragraphs that were intended to support the claim that he is “dangerously wrong” don’t respond at all to anything he actually says.

    Now, for all I know, it may well be that devoting resources toward conversion to renewable energy is indeed a fool’s errand, but I have to say that your post doesn’t even seem to attempt to make that case. It’s a political piece.

  6. The arguments have always been political, not because the science is political, but because solutions involve time and money, and the best combination of approaches is not obvious.

  7. Why isn’t nuclear being considered in the same venue? While it has problems, at least it has been shown to work, which I don’t think is true of sequestration in any practical sense.

    Politically it’s problematic, but then I have to wonder if sequestration isn’t just another “solar is just around the corner” excuse to ignore something that actually works for baseload generation when nothing else has been shown to do so as yet*, or is likely to do so in the near future.

    Glen Davidson

    *Leaving aside hydro, which isn’t going to increase significantly in the US.

  8. I make no apologies for advocacy of what I see as an intelligent solution to the problem of global warming. On the right, I see people who’d prefer not to acknowledge the problem’s existence, or who seek to minimize its impact. On the left, I see a bunch of people who are, quite frankly, economically and scientifically illiterate, hanging breathlessly on the latest story of how renewable energy is going to solve the world’s problems. It’s not. (By the way, walto, Jacobson says the world can move to 100% renewable energy by 2050. If that happens, then obviously, he thinks fossil fuels are going away in a hurry, assuming his plan is adopted. See here: https://www.citylab.com/environment/2017/08/charting-the-planets-path-to-100-renewable-energy/537678/ .)

    Then there are those (I used to be one of them) who say that nuclear power could solve all our problems, if people only gave it a chance. Well, maybe it could, but that won’t happen, for a combination of political and infrastructure-related reasons. Opposition to nuclear power in Western countries is just too strong, and even in China and India, the pace at which nuclear power plants are being built is discouragingly slow. I can’t tell you how many articles I’ve read about molten salt reactors, but where are they?

    Others point to geoengineering as a possible solution. It might work, but according to most scientists who work in the field, the risks appear to be too great, as the impact is unpredictable.

    At times, I have despaired of ever finding a solution to the problem of global warming. That’s why I was especially pleased when I came across Dr. Akshat Rathi’s article. The guy is qualified, he’s spoken to dozens of experts, and he makes a solid scientific and economic case for his proposal. I think he deserves a hearing.

    By the way, phoodoo, I was being perfectly serious when I suggested that people contact Rick Perry. Dr. Rathi’s proposal won’t get off the ground unless America gets on board. If you’re going to get America on board, the person you need to convince is the Energy Secretary. There are some idiots on the left who think he’s a doofus, but I think that’s a load of partisan rubbish from the MSM. If he didn’t have the talent for the job, he wouldn’t have gotten confirmed by such a handy margin in the Senate (62-37). Anyway, he’s our only hope.

    To those who think I’m being too one-sided, I’d like to pose Huxley’s question: “What is your alternative?”

  9. vjtorley: Then there are those (I used to be one of them) who say that nuclear power could solve all our problems, if people only gave it a chance.

    Who’s that?

    Perhaps me, who said that it should be considered in the same venue? Is that tantamount to saying that it could solve all of our problems?

    You’re certainly not going to get any worthwhile discussion while demonizing anyone for bringing up something that works, vs. something that has yet to be demonstrated in a practical sense and that has its own political issues.

    Glen Davidson

  10. Glen,

    When I said “all of our problems,” I was obviously referring to global warming and the energy supply. I wasn’t referring to the world’s social problems, for instance. And I had absolutely no intention of ridiculing you, let alone demonizing you. Sorry if you took it that way.

    Look, I sued to be a big fan of Barry Brook over at https://bravenewclimate.com/ . The solution he proposes could work, given enough political will, but I think you and I know that’ll never happen. Why? NIMBY, that’s why. China’s building some nuclear reactors, but nowhere near fast enough to meet the world’s needs, and even in China, there’s local opposition. So I’ve reluctantly concluded that we need to back some other option.

  11. vjtorley: By the way, phoodoo, I was being perfectly serious when I suggested that people contact Rick Perry. Dr. Rathi’s proposal won’t get off the ground unless America gets on board. If you’re going to get America on board, the person you need to convince is the Energy Secretary.

    Do not wish to derail your post further but since you addressed the issue . First you would need to convince Sec Perry climate change exists due to CO2 before convincing him of the need to find a solution to CO2 emissions.

    “Energy Secretary Rick Perry told CNBC on Monday he does not believe carbon dioxide emissions from human activity are the main driver of climate change, joining the EPA administrator in casting doubt on the conclusion of some of the government’s top scientists.

    Asked whether CO2 emissions are primarily responsible for climate change, Perry told CNBC’s “Squawk Box”: “No, most likely the primary control knob is the ocean waters and this environment that we live in.”

    There are some idiots on the left who think he’s a doofus, but I think that’s a load of partisan rubbish from the MSM.

    Not only the main stream media
    “He put on glasses so people think he’s smart. People can see through the glasses,” Trump said.

    If he didn’t have the talent for the job, he wouldn’t have gotten confirmed by such a handy margin in the Senate (62-37).

    Since he had 51 from Republicans votes no pressure was put on Democratic Senators from red states to oppose the nomination. You can view that as a belief in his abilities or political realism.

    Anyway, he’s our only hope.

    Perry does not have the power or interest to go against the Republican orthodoxy concerning climate change. Large budget cuts have already been proposed to the Energy Department budget.

  12. Hi newton,

    First you would need to convince Sec Perry climate change exists due to CO2 before convincing him of the need to find a solution to CO2 emissions.

    In my experience, many people who deny global warming do so because they’re convinced that there’s no technologically and economically feasible solution to the problem, if it were real. Since they can’t bear to acknowledge that there may be insoluble problems relating to their own everyday lives, they cope by denying the reality of the problem, ostrich-style. I know it sounds ridiculous, but that’s how many people deal with it, psychologically. (Think abut the Cold War, back in the sixties and seventies and eighties. How did we all cope? “Oh, they’d never be stupid enough to start a war, anyway.” Common sense would tell you that over a period of centuries, that logic wouldn’t hold, but we couldn’t bear to contemplate that. Of course, the problem is just as real today – in fact, more so, with North Korea’s shenanigans.)

    Convince Rick Perry that the problem of global warming is soluble in a practical fashion, and he may well change his tune.

    Another thing that may change his mind is getting a couple of “lukewarmers” like Dr. Roy Spencer and Dr. Judith Curry (who are widely respected by global warming skeptics) to publicly endorse Dr. Rathi’s proposed solution. I think they might, as it’s a lot cheaper and more workable than the costly solutions proposed so far by the left.

    “He put on glasses so people think he’s smart. People can see through the glasses,” Trump said.

    Ta-Nehisi Coates begs to disagree: Rick Perry is Intelligent Enough. The guy has a science degree.

    Since he had 51 from Republicans votes no pressure was put on Democratic Senators from red states to oppose the nomination. You can view that as a belief in his abilities or political realism.

    That means he had 11 votes from Democrats. That’s what surprises me.

    Perry does not have the power or interest to go against the Republican orthodoxy concerning climate change. Large budget cuts have already been proposed to the Energy Department budget.

    As my grandfather used to say, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” And as Dr. Rathi points out in his article, extracting CO2 from emissions plants at the source is ten times cheaper than sucking it out of the air, decades from now.

  13. vjtorley: Ta-Nehisi Coates begs to disagree: Rick Perry is Intelligent Enough.

    Huh? Did you read Coates article, or just see the title?

    He doesn’t say even one thing about Perry being smart. What he says is, in response to Kevin Drum saying Perry isn’t smart enough to ever be President, is that you don’t need to be smart to become President (Isn’t that the truth!)

    Again, did you read what you linked?

    I’m sure there some level of imbecility which would be too much for Americans {I am not sure of that}, but it seems that the ability to understand and speak to the ambitions of a critical mass of the electorate is much more important.

  14. There’s now another article in the series by Rathi. We again get a link to the International Energy Agency’s “Carbon Capture and Storage: The solution for deep emissions reductions,” which opens:

    Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is the only technology able to deliver significant emissions reductions from the use of fossil fuels. CCS can reduce emissions not only from power generation, but also from industrial sectors such as iron and steel, refining, petrochemical, and cement manufacturing.

    According to International Energy Agency (IEA) modelling, CCS could deliver 13% of the cumulative emissions reductions needed by 2050 to limit the global increase in temperature to 2°C (IEA 2DS). This represents the capture and storage of around 6 billion tonnes (Bt) of CO2 emissions per year in 2050, nearly triple India’s energy sector emissions today.

    Emphasis added. Thirteen percent. Now Vinnie will return to tell you that he never really intended for you to get the impression that CCS is itself the solution to global warming. “Hey, 13 percent is nothing to sneeze at. A penny saved, a penny earned.” Don’t let him get away with it. Look again at his OP. Vincent writes very well. It’s perfectly clear what he wants readers to believe. Which is to say, he’s an amoral hack who will fuck with people’s heads for some little bit of gain. I don’t know if he’s getting paid, but I do know that there are people who make a bit of money doing the sort of thing he’s done here.

    By the way, how do I tell when Vincent is in propaganda mode? He always lays on heavy with rhetorical fallacies. At this point in my life, I make no conscious effort at detecting such gimmicks. They jump off the screen, and slap me in the face. I’d assumed that it was the same for most of you. Now I wonder. Who noticed that Vincent opened by establishing a false dichotomy, and by appealing to authority? It’s a slick little trick, and it’s obviously not by accident. If you don’t notice stuff like that, then you must think that I’ve got some arbitrary grudge against Poor Little Vincent. The fact of the matter is that I don’t despise him any more (or less) than I do other intellectuals who calculatedly mislead readers.

  15. You have to admit, though, that the line about Perry not having been able to get confirmed if he were stupid is pretty funny. Has anybody seen some of Trump’s recent nominees for the Federal bench that have gotten through the Judiciary Committee? Even the (republican) chairman is now embarrassed.

    So, yeah, Vince is up to something here, I think.

  16. Is it possible that the global climate is changing to the one that was on earth before Noah’s flood?

    “…Whitcomb and Morris suggested that the earth had a thick, spherical, transparent zone of water vapor in the atmosphere that moderated the conditions for human life all over the earth, and that a vast subterranean hydraulic system of water channels under the surface of the earth was part of that optimal arrangement of water and heat distribution… -UD

    Also:

    http://www.genesispark.com/exhibits/early-earth/atmosphere/

    After all there were frozen animals, like mammoths, found in the arctic with palm leafs and branches undigested in their stomach…

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2358695/Woolly-mammoth-frozen-Siberia-39-000-YEARS-goes-display-Tokyo-woolly.html

    I’m not denying the pollution issue though…

  17. Hi phoodoo,

    Yes, I did read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ article, before linking to it.

    You will recall that newton quoted Trump as saying, “He put on glasses so people think he’s smart.” I then commented:

    Ta-Nehisi Coates begs to disagree: Rick Perry is Intelligent Enough.

    You replied:

    He doesn’t say even one thing about Perry being smart. What he says is, in response to Kevin Drum saying Perry isn’t smart enough to ever be President, is that you don’t need to be smart to become President (Isn’t that the truth!)

    Nowhere did I claim that Perry is smart, in absolute terms. I said he was smart enough, and that he had “the talent [required] for the job.” I also pointed out that he has a science degree. He majored in animal science, so that probably means his IQ is around 110 to 115 (see also here). Coates, by the way, agreed that there was “some level of imbecility which would be too much for Americans,” but he dismissed the notion that “there’s a Wonderlic test for the presidency.”

    I think my brief reference to Ta-Nehisi Coates’ article was accurate enough. 🙂

  18. 1. Who doesn’t want clean air and clean water?
    2. Are we not getting more clean and more efficient every day?
    3. Given the past record of wild climactic variations, why do some think 2 deg over 100 yrs is a catastrophe?
    4. Revisit ‘Soylent Green’ – the movie, to understand that most fears turn out to be irrational.

  19. vjtorley,
    I think others are being a bit hard on you, Vincent. I recall in my youth the search for a cure for cancer. There turned out not to be a cure for cancer, but there are cures for cancers. There’s, I suspect, no panacea that will reverse climate change but there are things we can do that may help. 13% is not a fix but it can help combined with other measures.

  20. Hi Tom English,

    I normally don’t respond to snark, but in this case, I’ll make a rare exception.

    Vincent writes very well. It’s perfectly clear what he wants readers to believe. Which is to say, he’s an amoral hack who will fuck with people’s heads for some little bit of gain. I don’t know if he’s getting paid, but I do know that there are people who make a bit of money doing the sort of thing he’s done here.

    “Amoral”? That’s the sort of term I’d use to describe a Mafia hit-man. You need to take a cold shower. You should also be aware that “amoral” and “immoral” are not the same thing. Had you called me the latter, I might have been more forgiving.

    For the record, I don’t write for money, and I’m not getting paid. I write out of conviction. I don’t try to deceive people, and I’m not seeking financial gain. You’ve never met me. Who are you to judge me?

    I’d now like to address your claims. There are two issues that need to be distinguished here:

    1. Is it the case that carbon capture and storage alone can stop global warming (by 2050)?

    2. Did I misrepresent Dr. Rathi’s views, in suggesting that carbon capture and storage is “a solution to the problem of global warming,” as I put it in my OP?

    You’ve established that the answer to question 1 is No, by quoting directly from a 2015 report by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Bravo. The report states:

    According to International Energy Agency (IEA) modelling, CCS could deliver 13% of the cumulative emissions reductions needed by 2050 to limit the global increase in temperature to 2°C (IEA 2DS). This represents the capture and storage of around 6 billion tonnes (Bt) of CO2 emissions per year in 2050, nearly triple India’s energy sector emissions today…

    While there are alternatives to CCS in power generation, delaying or abandoning CCS in the sector would increase the investment required by 40% or more in the 2DS, and may place untenable and unrealistic demands on other low emission technology options.

    The report also states: “Without CCS, long-term global climate goals may be unobtainable…”

    In other words, according to the IAEA, CCS is necessary but not sufficient for the task of fighting global warming. By the way, while 13 per cent of the reductions to 2050 will come from CCS, readers should not be under the impression that the remaining 87 per cent will come from renewables. About 30 per cent will. End-use fuel and electricity efficiency and fuel switching will deliver another another 48 per cent, and nuclear energy another 8 per cent, according to the IAEA. 1 per cent will come from power generation efficiency and fuel switching.

    Regarding the second question, I’d like to quote from Dr. Rathi’s article (the one I linked to in my OP). Readers can judge for themselves whether I’ve represented his views fairly:

    Even using a conservative number, like 60 dollars per metric ton, all the world would need to pay to start to make the CO2 problem go away today is 360 billion dollars. For comparison, the world’s GDP is forecast to be 78 trillion dollars in 2017.

    In other words, we could save the planet from disastrous climate change for less than 0.5 per cent of world GDP in today’s economy – much lower than Kelemen’s already modest estimate.

    The claim I made in my OP was as follows:

    Well, it turns out that a solution to the problem of global warming is at hand, after all. It’s called carbon capture and storage (CCS)… Until a few years ago, it was prohibitively expensive, but now, it’s finally become affordable. It’ll cost just 0.5 per cent of the world’s GDP (or 360 billion dollars a year), once it gets up and running.

    As readers can see, the language I used was very similar to Dr. Rathi’s. Dr. Rathi also referred to the International Atomic Energy Agency in his article:

    The International Energy Agency estimates that the world needs to be burying at least 6 billion metric tons of CO2 per year by 2050.

    I included this quote in my OP. In short, any claim that I misquoted or misrepresented Dr. Rathi is ludicrous. (Note that I’m not accusing you of making such a claim; I’m just saying that I fairly represented his position.)

    I also pointed out in my OP that 0.5 per cent of GDP (the figure calculated by Dr. Rathi) was much less than the cost of Professor Mark Jacobson’s scheme (which is true). Re the latter scheme, readers might find this 2017 article by Robert Fares in Scientific American to be of interest: Landmark 100 Percent Renewable Energy Study Flawed, Say 21 Leading Experts. (Fares is an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the U.S. Department of Energy Building Technologies Office. His views are of course his own.)

    Now Vinnie will return to tell you that he never really intended for you to get the impression that CCS is itself the solution to global warming…

    You’re making imputations. What I am claiming is that whatever I wrote about CCS was a fair summary of what Dr. Rathi wrote. If you think I’ve over-egged the case for CCS, fine. But in that case, your criticisms should be directed at Dr. Rathi.

    Finally, unlike you, I don’t normally read every hyperlink attached to an article on public policy. That would take me all day. Instead, I generally seek to determine if the author has relevant credentials, and where he/she is a credible source. Dr. Rathi checked out OK on that score, for reasons I mentioned in my OP: he has a Ph.D. in chemistry from Oxford, and his article is based on lengthy conversations with more than 100 academics, entrepreneurs, policy experts, and government officials.

    All I will say, in conclusion, is that no-one appears to know how much it will cost to fight global warming. And that’s a real shame. Before undertaking an enterprise, one should always sit down and figure out how much it will cost. Only a fool would do otherwise. “We can’t afford not to” is fine rhetoric, but in the real world, it just won’t cut it. Money matters.

  21. vjtorley: All I will say, in conclusion, is that no-one appears to know how much it will cost to fight global warming. And that’s a real shame. Before undertaking an enterprise, one should always sit down and figure out how much it will cost. Only a fool would do otherwise.

    That’s reasonable. But some proposals that may reduce CO_2 emissions are worth doing for other reasons. Reducing our reliance on fossil fuels has other benefits.

  22. The size of the human population is the major issue, but hardly anyone wants to advocate government regulations on the number of children per parent for the next few hundred years.

    If we had 500 million people vs. 8 billion people (or the forcasted 50 billion people) on the planet, that would be a substantial improvement over the measily little tech solutions being posed.

    But I think in the end it’s moot. God has ordained the world to end with famines, pestilence, wars, etc. Jesus prophesied this because God has cursed this universe.

  23. vjtorley:
    Hi newton,

    In my experience, many people who deny global warming do so because they’re convinced that there’s no technologically and economically feasible solution to the problem, if it were real. Since they can’t bear to acknowledge that there may be insoluble problems relating to their own everyday lives, they cope by denying the reality of the problem, ostrich-style.

    And most importantly the costs of fixing problem they helped create will be faced by future generations and foreigners .For instance the disintegration of national infrastructure is technically feasible is still ignored due the lack of will to pay now for what others can pay for later even if the costs increase because of the delay.

    I know it sounds ridiculous, but that’s how many people deal with it, psychologically.

    Not at all, it is always beneficial pyshologically and financially if you can force others to fix the mess you are creating. And the denial of the problem becomes easier still if you have people who profit from reinforcing your convenient psychological coping mechanisms

    Convince Rick Perry that the problem of global warming is soluble in a practical fashion, and he may well change his tune.

    And he would be looking for a job before he puckered up his lips to blow. The Republican Party is funded by lots of rich folks to whom CO2 means money. But not to worry, right now Perry is proposing subsidies paid by businesses and comsumers in higher rates to prop up more expensive coal and nuclear power plants. Republicans love free markets and hate regulations except when they don’t.

    So from a ideological,financial, and political perspective the ruling party has no interest in fixing that which does not exist.

  24. stcordova: The size of the human population is the major issue…

    Agreed.

    …but hardly anyone wants to advocate government regulations on the number of children per parent for the next few hundred years.

    The People’s Republic of China tried that and have given up on it. On the other hand, giving women all the means necessary for reproductive control over their own bodies and negating the influence of religious authority in this area would be a huge step.

  25. Nonlin.org: 3. Given the past record of wild climactic variations, why do some think 2 deg over 100 yrs is a catastrophe?

    Ahh, the argument from feelings.

    26 — Science vs. the Feelies.

    Oh man it’s only two degrees compared to “wild climactic variations”. We are supposed to just “feel” how two degrees is tiny and therefore just can’t ever be “catastrophic”.

  26. stcordova:
    The size of the human population is the major issue, but hardly anyone wants to advocate government regulations on the number of children per parent for the next few hundred years.

    If we had 500 million people vs. 8 billion people (or the forcasted 50 billion people) on the planet, that would be a substantial improvement over the measily little tech solutions being posed.

    But I think in the end it’s moot.God has ordained the world to end with famines, pestilence, wars, etc.Jesus prophesied this because God has cursed this universe.

    I’d thought that the earth would be able to sustain 20 billion people under the climate from before Noah’s flood…and better management of course…

  27. Nonlin.org: Given the past record of wild climactic variations, why do some think 2 deg over 100 yrs is a catastrophe?

    There were not 7.6 billion people living on Earth when the wild dramatic variations occurred?

  28. Rumraket,

    Oh man it’s only two degrees compared to “wild climactic variations”. We are supposed to just “feel” how two degrees is tiny and therefore just can’t ever be “catastrophic”.

    I am not saying whether the argument is right of wrong but you know you are creating a straw man don’t you? The quote had nothing to do with feelings. It was based on the natural cycle vs what we have seen over the last 100 years.

  29. colewd: It was based on the natural cycle vs what we have seen over the last 100 years.

    The increase from 260 ppm to over 400ppm in atmospheric CO_2 in my lifetime seems a bit unnatural, to say the least!

  30. J-Mac: How come it is impossible?

    The flood story is fiction (a fable). If it were not tied to religion, this would be obvious to all.

    If there was no “Noah’s flood”, there wasn’t any “before Noah’s flood”. So it is impossible for anything to have happened at a time period that didn’t exist.

    BTW: Do you believe that ice age happened?

    The evidence is pretty strong.

  31. colewd:
    Rumraket,

    I am not saying whether the argument is right of wrong but you know you are creating a straw man don’t you?The quote had nothing to do with feelings.It was based on the natural cycle vs what we have seen over the last 100 years.

    Which natural cycle?

  32. colewd: The quote had nothing to do with feelings. It was based on the natural cycle vs what we have seen over the last 100 years.

    Yeah and it very deliberately tried to enhance the contrast between “wild climactic variations” and “2 degres” to make some sort of point.

    We are supposed to feel “yeah, 2 degrees over 100 years is nothing compared to ‘wild climactic variations”.

    So no, I’m not creating a strawman. It’s an argument from feelings.

  33. vjtorley: Another thing that may change his mind is getting a couple of “lukewarmers” like Dr. Roy Spencer and Dr. Judith Curry (who are widely respected by global warming skeptics) to publicly endorse Dr. Rathi’s proposed solution. I think they might, as it’s a lot cheaper and more workable than the costly solutions proposed so far by the left.

    Perry was pretty supportive of wind energy as Governor of Texas, but it seems to me any solution will require a mix of strategies. Increases in efficencies, conservation , and new technologies , capture and sequestration and political will.

    “He put on glasses so people think he’s smart. People can see through the glasses,” Trump said.

    Ta-Nehisi Coates begs to disagree: Rick Perry is Intelligent Enough. The guy has a science degree.

    Yes he did , a solid 2.5 in animal science.As he said” Four semesters of organic chemistry made a pilot out of me,“. He also was a cheer leader at A&M. Perry was my Governor for decade and a half , he is a smart enough to be a good politician. As Governor he supported the fossil fuel industry and business interests.Standard Texas stuff. And a cozy relationship with lobbyists

    Since he had 51 from Republicans votes no pressure was put on Democratic Senators from red states to oppose the nomination. You can view that as a belief in his abilities or political realism.

    That means he had 11 votes from Democrats. That’s what surprises me.

    Again, why risk policy capital if you come from a red state in a lost battle? When it came to DeVos she got 0 because there was a chance to defeat her nomination.

    Perry does not have the power or interest to go against the Republican orthodoxy concerning climate change. Large budget cuts have already been proposed to the Energy Department budget.

    As my grandfather used to say, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” And as Dr. Rathi points out in his article, extracting CO2 from emissions plants at the source is ten times cheaper than sucking it out of the air, decades from now

    Doing neither is cheaper still

  34. Alan Fox,

    The increase from 260 ppm to over 400ppm in atmospheric CO_2 in my lifetime seems a bit unnatural, to say the least!

    I agree. Now how do you correlate this with climate change?

  35. Nonlin.org: Maybe, but – if you’re concerned about people’s well being – we have all kind of useful technologies these days.

    And who pays to implement these technologies?

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