UPDATED “Coal use set to surpass oil in a decade”: what realistic plan do enviros have to deal with this?
From rawstory, Coal use set to surpass oil in a decade: IEA
Dear global warming “concerned people”: What to you suppose is a rational approach to the following?
The latest IEA projections see coal consumption nearly catching oil consumption in four years time, rising to 4.32 billion tonnes of oil equivalent in 2017 against 4.4 billion tonnes for oil.
That has consequences for climate change as coal produces far more carbon emissions responsible for global warming than other fuels.
But the IEA report on coal found that even countries which have committed themselves to reducing carbon emissions are finding it difficult to resist the renewed allure of coal.
A number of European countries have seen their use of coal for electricity consumption jump at the beginning of this year, including by 65 percent in Spain, 35 percent in Britain and 8 percent in Germany.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, Eric Lerner, a US plasma physicist, has beaten the big hot fusion projects wrt a max temperature parameter, with a staff of three people. I know his staff is only 3 people because he told me so, about 6 months, ago. Furthermore, I know he still has to struggle with getting funding, wasting time and energy in the process, because I chat with his friend and former roomate every so often, and Eric and Focus Fusion comes up as a topic of discussion.
If you are a CO2 climate catastrophist, whether of the “science is settled” flavor, or else of the “we shouldn’t take any chances” type, have you considered the possibility that, given the reality of fossil fuel consumption trends, world wide, that society can’t afford NOT to fund carbon-free, alternative, dense forms of energy? Have you considered the possibility that your avoidance or ignorance of the possibilities of sufficiently dense, carbon-free energy that can attract the industrializing 3rd world, is making it far more likely that a 500 ppm (CO2) atmosphere is in the cards for your life time – never mind 100 years from now?
Should anybody reading this actually get the point, they may want to give some thought to why the environmental groups, such as 350.org, aren’t pushing for high levels of R&D of carbon-free, dense sources of energy, like fusion. Or even, why groups like 350.org aren’t organizing crowdfunding efforts, that bypass governments. Governments that, last I heard, are still captured by corporations and banks.
Here’s a link to 350.org’s “Top 11” campaigns of 2011. Number 2 is:
We moved the planet.
2000 events. 175 countries. A single day to move the planet beyond fossil fuels. Moving Planet was 350.org’s third global day of climate action, and it brought massive numbers of people into the streets to call for a different kind of world—one that runs on renewable energy and people power, not on fossil fuels.
Hmmmm. Strictly speaking, neither hot fusion nor so-called cold fusion (LENR’s) are sustainable, in the sense that they don’t use up their fuels, permanently.
Of course, solar panels and wind turbines get used up, also, and while their source of energy is not diminished, it takes energy to build and repair existing infrastructure. So, when you look at the big picture, they’re not 100% renewable, either.
So, why doesn’t 350.org push for evironmentally-friendly, sustainable sources of energy?
350.org is largely focused on symbolic action, in the form of letter writing, petitions, vigils and small scale community action. It fully accepts the paradigm of Industrial Civilization, and thus is not involved in any activities that threaten the industrial economy.
OK, well, why can’t some “symbolic actions” educate the public, and politicians, about possiblities for fusion? Is it hard to make a case for more fusion R&D, given what we know is happening with worldwide CO2 production? (E.g., Chinese per capita CO2 production was up 9% last year.)
If anybody wants to try and get Bill McKibben to speak to this, on record, hey, go for it. Frankly, I think Bill McKibben is part of a big, green Veal Pen, and getting him to focus on more probable solutions is a fools errand.
In any event, real lovers of the environment should not be waiting, unduly, on any so-called leaders. Crowd-funding and the inter-connectedness of the web make solutions possible that make it even more unforgivable to do obeisance to activist gods who have feet of clay.
Update: Wikipedia states that
The Manhattan Project began modestly in 1939, but grew to employ more than 130,000 people and cost nearly US$2 billion (roughly equivalent to $25.8 billion as of 2012).
130,000 people, while Eric Lerner has a staff of 3. Seems a tad ‘unbalanced’, wouldn’t you say? Seems to imply that the US could do MUCH, MUCH better, wouldn’t you agree? Seems to suggest that citizens of the world could surpass this level of funding, on a voluntary, crowd-sourced basis.
But, you’d never know that from reading Bill McKibben 350.org. Unless I’m missing something….
$25 billion / 6 billion people = $4/person. Over 4 years, this is $1/person. OK, a lot of the developing world is desperately poor. Nobody expects them to chip in. So, first world nations could carry them if they chipped in, say, $20/per capita, per year. You know, the cost of a fillup at a gas station.
To get an idea of the US commitment to fusion, consider this comment from US fusion in budget vice
Eric Bass said:
It’s worth noting that the entire US ITER commitment ($2.2 billion), spread out over 10 years, is approximately equal to one day of US Department of Defense spending (c. $2.0 billion), or 0.05% of the annual US budget. The cost to build a single conventional fission power plant is somewhere between $6 billion and $24 billion, depending on location and who is estimating. Should we not expect development of a revolutionary new energy source to incur at least this cost level? Abandoning ITER, or scrapping the domestic program beginning with Alcator-C-Mod, means trading our stake in the future energy economy for nickles and dimes.