Do the World’s Energy Policies Make Sense?

The world today has a myriad of energy policies. One of them seems to be to encourage renewables, especially wind and solar. Another seems to be to encourage electric cars. A third seems to be to try to move away from fossil fuels. Countries in Europe and elsewhere have been trying carbon taxes. There are also programs to buy carbon offsets for energy uses such as air travel.

Maybe it is time to step back and take a look. Where are we now? Where are we really headed? Have the policies implemented since the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 had any positive impact?

Let’s look at some of the issues involved.

[1] We have had very little success in reducing CO2 emissions.

CO2 emissions for all countries, in total, have been spiraling upward, year after year.

World CO2 Emissions

Figure 1. Carbon dioxide emissions for the world, based on BP’s 2019 Statistical Review of World Energy.

If we look at the situation by part of the world, we see an even more concerning pattern.

Figure 2. Carbon dioxide emissions by part of the world through 2018, based on BP’s 2019 Statistical Review of World Energy. Soviet Empire is an approximation including Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union, based on the BP report. It would not include Cuba and North Korea.

The group US+EU+Japan has been able to reduce its CO2 emissions by 5% since 2005. Emissions were slowly rising between 1981 and 2005. There was a dip at the time of the Great Recession of 2008-2009, followed by a downward trend. A person might get the impression that CO2 emissions for the EU tend to rise during periods when the economy is doing well and tend to fall when it is doing poorly.

The “star” in emissions reductions is the former Soviet Union and its Eastern European satellites. I refer to this group as the Soviet Empire. Emissions fell around the time of the collapse of the central government of the Soviet Union in 1991. This big decrease in emissions seems to be related to huge changes that took place at that time. Instead of one country with a single currency, the individual republics were suddenly on their own.

The high point in CO2 emissions for the Soviet Empire came in 1990, the year before the collapse of the Soviet Union central government. By 1999, emissions had fallen to a level 37% below their 1990 level. In fact, even in recent years, emissions for this group of countries has stayed low. Much industry collapsed and has never been replaced.

The group that has more than doubled its emissions is what I call the Remainder Group. The group includes many countries, including China and India, that ramped up their manufacturing and other heavy industry in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when the World Trade Organization added members. The Remainder Group also includes many countries that suddenly found new export markets for their raw materials, such as oil, iron ore, and copper. The Remainder countries became richer; they became more able to pave roads and build more substantial homes for their citizens. With all of this GDP-related activity, CO2 emissions increased rapidly.

[2] Population growth has followed a pattern that is in some ways similar to CO2 growth. 

Figure 3. Population from 1965 to 2018, based on UN 2019 population estimates.

In Figure 3, we see that population has been virtually flat in the former Soviet Empire (2% growth between 1997 and 2018). With the economy not doing well, young people emigrate to countries that seem to provide better prospects.

Population in the US+EU+Japan Group grew by 11% between 1997 and 2018.

The group that is simply outstanding for population growth is the Remainder Group, with 35% growth between 1997 and 2018. A big part of this population growth comes from improved sanitation and basic medical care, such as antibiotics. With these changes, a larger percentage of the babies that are born have been able to live to maturity.

It is hard to see any bend in the trend lines, which would indicate that recent actions have actually changed the course of activity from the way it was headed previously. Of course, the trend is only “linear,” implying that the percentage growth is gradually slowing over time.

This rapidly growing population feeds into the CO2 problem as well. The many young people would all like food, homes and transportation. While it is possible to obtain some version of these desired products without fossil fuels, the version with fossil fuels tends to be vastly improved. Most people prefer homes with indoor plumbing and electricity, if given an opportunity, for example.

[3] Deforestation keeps growing as a world problem.

Figure 4. Chart showing World Bank estimates of share of world forested by economic grouping.

High Income Countries keep pushing the deforestation problem to the poorer parts of the world. Heavily Indebted Poor Countries are especially affected. Worldwide, deforestation continues to grow.

[4] With respect to fossil fuels, there is a great deal of confusion with respect to, “What do we need to be saved from?” 

Do we have a problem with too much or too little fossil fuel? We hear two different stories.

Figure 5. Author’s image of two trains speeding toward the world economy.

Climate modelers keep telling us about what could happen, if indeed we use too much fossil fuel. In fact, the climate currently is changing, bolstering this point of view.

It seems to me that there is an equally great danger of collapse, accompanied by low energy prices. For example, we know that energy production in the European Union has been declining for many years, without the countries being able to do anything about it.

We also know historically that many civilizations have collapsed. The Soviet Empire collapsed in 1991, illustrating one type of collapse. The Soviet Union was an oil exporter. Its collapse came after oil prices were too low to allow adequate investment in new oil fields for an extended period of time. The Great Recession of 2008-2009 offers a much smaller, temporary version of what collapse might look like.

Another example of low prices accompanying collapse comes from Revelation 18: 11-13, warning of possible collapse like that of ancient Babylon. The problem was inadequate demand and low prices; even the energy product of the day (human beings sold as slaves) had little value.

11 The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes anymore— 12 cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth; every sort of citron wood, and articles of every kind made of ivory, costly wood, bronze, iron and marble; 13 cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and human beings sold as slaves.

What we have been seeing recently is falling prices and prices that are too low for producers. Such a result can lead to collapse if too many energy producers go bankrupt and quit.

Figure 6. Inflation adjusted weekly average Brent Oil price, based on EIA oil spot prices and US CPI-urban inflation.

If we are in danger of collapse from low prices, renewables would not seem to be of much assistance unless they (a) are significantly less expensive than fossil fuels and (b) can be scaled up sufficiently rapidly to more than replace fossil fuels. Neither of these seems to be a possibility.

[5] Early studies overestimated how much help renewables might provide, especially if our problem comes from too little energy supply rather than too much.

Renewables look like they would be great from many points of view, but when it comes down to the real world situation, they don’t live up to the hype.

One issue is that while wind, solar, hydroelectric, geothermal, and other devices for capturing energy are called “renewables,” they are really only available through the use of the fossil fuel system. They are made using fossil fuels. If a part breaks, or if insects eat away the insulation on wires, replacements need to be made using the fossil fuel system and transported using the fossil fuel system. At best, renewables should be considered fossil fuel extenders, using less fossil fuels than conventional electricity generation. They are also dependent on other resources, which may eventually deplete, but which are not a problem at this time.

A second issue is that it is extremely difficult to do a proper cost-benefit analysis on renewables because they can only be used as part of a larger system. They tend to look inexpensive, when viewed in isolation. But when total system costs are viewed, they often are quite expensive.

One difficulty in a proper cost-benefit analysis is the fact that renewables are often sited at quite a distance from where electricity is to be used, leading to the need for a significant number of long distance transmission lines. Furthermore, if renewables provide intermittent power, they need to be sized for the maximum output, not their average output. All of these long distance lines need to be properly maintained, or they tend to cause fires. In some instances, burying the lines underground at significant cost is the only solution. Somehow, these higher costs need to be recognized as part of the cost of the system, but this is rarely done.

Another difficulty in a proper cost-benefit analysis is the fact that renewables’  intermittency must be overcome, if the electricity is to be of benefit to a modern economy that requires electricity 24/7/365. In theory, we could greatly overbuild the renewables system and the transmission. This might work, but we would end up with a large percentage of the system that is not used most of the time, greatly adding to costs.

Batteries can be added, but the cost tends to be high. One commenter on my site recently observed:

EIA reports the average cost for utility scale battery systems to be about $1500 per kWh. At that rate the batteries needed for backing up a solar or wind facility for three days cost around 30 times as much as the RE facility. But wind is often unpowered for more like seven days, during huge stagnant high pressure episodes. Thus the backup battery cost is more like 100 times the wind farm cost. Batteries are not feasible.

The major intermittency problem is season-to-season, especially saving up enough for winter. We do not have a way, today, of storing energy from one season to another, short of making it into a liquid (such as ammonia), and storing the liquid from season to season. This would be another way of driving up costs of the overall system. It has not been included in anyone’s cost calculations.

For the time being, we are forcing nuclear and fossil fuel to provide backup electrical services to intermittent renewables without adequately compensating them for their services. This tends to drive them out of business. This is not an adequate solution either.

A third issue is that renewables really need to be “economic” to work. In other words, they need to generate a profit for their owners, when comparing the unsubsidized costs with the benefits of the system. In fact, their owners need to be able to pay fairly substantial taxes to governments, to cover their share of governmental costs as well. If renewables truly were providing substantial benefit to the system, their use would tend to “take off” on their own, because they would be providing “net energy” to the system. Instead, renewables tend to act like “energy sinks.” They need endless subsidies. They can never substitute for fossil fuels. In fact, they can’t even pay their own way.

A related issue is that, because of the high total costs (as well as their lack of true net energy benefits), it is almost impossible to ramp up the quantity of renewables such as wind and solar very high. The EU has been a big supporter of renewables other than hydroelectric. Figure 7 shows a chart of the EU’s own energy production, together with its energy imports.

EU Energy by Type and Whether Imported

Figure 7. EU energy by type and whether imported, based on data of BP’s 2019 Statistical Review of World Energy. Renewables are non-hydroelectric renewables such as wind, solar, and geothermal.

After at least 20 years of subsidies, the EU has been able to increase renewables (other than hydroelectric) to about 10% of its total energy supply. The EU’s oil imports are roughly level, and its natural gas imports have been increasing. Even with rapid growth in non-hydro renewables, the EU has been experiencing a decrease in total energy consumption.

[6] Looking at the actual outcomes, a person might ask, “What in the world were policymakers really thinking about?”

We are told that the reason policymakers made the decisions they did was because they thought that they could reduce CO2 emissions in this way. Really? If a person really wants to reduce CO2 emissions, it is easy to see how to do it. A person simply has to take steps in the direction of reducing global co-operation. One step would be to reduce international trade. Another would be to get rid of umbrella organizations such as the World Trade Organization, the United Nations and the European Union. In fact, within individual countries, the top level of government could be removed, leaving (for example) the provinces of Canada and the states of the United States. In other words, policymakers could push economies in the direction of collapse.

Another way collapse could be encouraged would be by rapidly raising interest rates or cutting off credit. With less purchasing power, the world would be pushed into recession.

At the time of the Kyoto Protocol, policymakers moved in precisely the opposite direction of pushing the economy toward collapse. They moved in the direction of adding international trade and more debt to enable the growth. The countries with greater trade had huge coal resources that had not been used. With the help of this coal, the world economy was able to continue to grow. This approach only made sense if the real problem at the time of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 was too little energy resources, not too much. The economy needed the stimulation that more low-cost energy and more debt could provide.

It is now more than twenty years later. The coal resources of China are starting to deplete. Coal is also causing serious ground-level pollution problems, both in China and India. Without growing coal production, world GDP growth starts slowing. We are again facing low oil prices and other commodity prices–a problem similar to the one present when the government of the Soviet Union collapsed. The world economy seems again to be headed toward having some of its governmental organizations collapse from inadequate energy. Political parties are becoming more extreme; countries are enacting new tariffs. If we go back to Figure 5, the concern should again be collapse, on the left side of the figure.

[7] The scenarios considered by the IPCC climate model need to be revisited.

A climate model looks to the past and tries to forecast what would happen in alternative “scenarios.” The concern I have is that the scenarios evaluated are not realistic. To get to the level of CO2 that would produce the most extreme scenarios, coal production would need to continue at a high level for many, many years. This seems unrealistic because world coal production has been fairly flat for several years, and prices tend to be lower than producers require if they are to stay in business. The likely direction for coal production seems to be down, rather than up.

Figure 8. World Energy Consumption by Fuel, based on data of 2019 BP Statistical Review of World Energy.

In order for coal production to grow as much as the higher emission scenarios assume, there needs to be a major turnaround in the situation. World coal prices would need to rise substantially. In fact, coal in very difficult locations for extraction, such as under the North Sea, need to become profitable to extract. This situation seems very unlikely.

It seems to me that climate modelers should be considering more realistic scenarios regarding CO2 emissions from fossil fuels. One scenario which should be considered is the possible near term collapse of several governmental organizations, such as the European Union, World Trade Organization, and the governments of several oil exporting countries.

[8] The push toward renewables makes little sense without a firmer foundation than currently exists.

Early studies looked only at the cost of renewables themselves, without the cost of extra long-distance grid transportation and battery storage. Such an estimate makes renewables look far more valuable than they really are.

We now have enough experience that we can see what goes wrong. A hydroelectric plant that operates during the wet season in a tropical country may be of little practical use, for example, if there is no fossil fuel energy available to provide backup electricity production during the dry season. The total cost of the overlapping systems needs to be taken into consideration, including the need to hire staff year around for both the fossil fuel and hydroelectric facilities. Electricity transmission will likely be needed for both types of generation.

There are many other real-world examples that can be examined, before blanket “use renewables” recommendations should be issued. If renewables are not truly very inexpensive (around 2 cents per kWh or less), without subsidies, they are likely not to be long-lasting. Subsidies become more and more difficult to maintain, as a system scales up.

About Gail Tverberg

My name is Gail Tverberg. I am an actuary interested in finite world issues - oil depletion, natural gas depletion, water shortages, and climate change. Oil limits look very different from what most expect, with high prices leading to recession, and low prices leading to financial problems for oil producers and for oil exporting countries. We are really dealing with a physics problem that affects many parts of the economy at once, including wages and the financial system. I try to look at the overall problem.
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1,380 Responses to Do the World’s Energy Policies Make Sense?

  1. Excellent work as always. There are a few efforts at modelling the interplay between peak oil and global warming, such as this report from NASA

    https://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/news/topstory/2008/peakoil.html

    It shows it is difficult to get past 450 ppm of carbon dioxide as a peak level in coming decades, enough to make life more difficult in a world with declining net energy but not the apocalyptic scenarios projected by 2100 under never ending growth scenarios.

    • Thanks! I don’t remember seeing the NASA study before.

      Louis de Sousa and Euan Mearns put together an analysis in 2008 (same year as the NASA study) over at TheOilDrum.com. They came to a similar conclusion. It was difficult to get atmospheric CO2 much about 450 parts per million, using estimates was on what was at that time believed to be available to extract. (I expect if I were to model what would happen with collapse, the amount to be burned would be lower, and thus the maximum CO2 would be lower.)

      http://theoildrum.com/node/4807

  2. Chrome Mags says:

    Iran raised fuel prices 300% and protests erupted.

    • Xabier says:

      Iranians are very attached to their cars, possession of one is seen as a mark of modernity, normality and status, even though Teheran would be much more pleasant and less polluted if they simply got out and walked.

      And the mass of people are well aware that the corrupt elites – the mullahs, big business, the army – live very, very well indeed, so are little inclined to accept any such decline in their own living standards while the rich glide by.

    • AlfredCairns says:

      They should have raised fuel prices a long time ago – and scrapped income taxes and suchlike

    • okboomerfromOK says:

      A very fair and unbiased account of events in Ukraine. Not a single politician could affirm those events without being called a putin asset. Why is that?. Shiff starts his impeachment inquiry with a lie. First sentence.
      Is this not curious state of affairs? We are lied to. People worked up into a frenzy. unable to have civil discussions about the facts.
      Instead of the above accurate account of the shenanigans in the Ukraine what do we hear in every mainstream press and talking head. russia invaded ukraine. russia did this russia did that. Trust you alphabet soup agency. How can we trust when we are openly lied to.
      Russia is certainly a competitor with the USA. Why is anything but hate for Russia considered traitorous? You dont hate competitors. You compete and win.
      I consider the hallmark of facism hate using lies War propaganda. a media united in their lies. Fascism is a word thats thrown around a lot lately. The people accusing it are demonstrating textbook fascist behavior..
      https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2018/06/08/interview-dr-paul-craig-roberts-challenge-ruling-ideology-called-facists-herland-report/
      Yet people continue to be channeled into left vs right polarity. Why? Any dialogue outside of approved talking points is hated on.
      The impeachment inquiry is ridiculous. What should be investigated is how and who was involved in overthrowing a democratically elected government in the Ukraine and bringing The USA to the brink of war. What trump did is bad as that? What Bill Clinton did with Monica is bad as that? I could care less what party they belong to. This the big sham. Dont betray your team. Repeat talking points. Dont think. I dont care about Bills exploits. I dont care about trump and stormy Daniels. None of my business. I dont care if the president has a penchant for hermaphrodite martian midgets. None of my business. I do care about being lied to for war.
      True progressives value the truth. True progressives are against war if not attacked.. True progressives dont pull on there boots and use truncheons to quell opinions not in line with talking points. Both partys are corrupt. Republicans wouldnt allow Ron Paul. trump would be gone if he didnt support defense deficits.
      You wonder why trump is going to be impeached then reelected. Now you know. No its not Russian bots. Seriously? I could be wrong. There was something very human about obama. While i certainly didnt agree with a lot of his viewpoints i dint think he would have me beaten with a truncheon because of it.
      Tulsi Gabbard reflects all of the traditional values of the Democratic party. IMO she could defeat Trump easily. But she is not even a contender. Why is that? . Its not that whoever runs the democratic party doesnt understand that Hillary was defeated because she was the queen of warmongers. They know that. That they are unwilling to abandon that demonstrates how integral it is to the creature formally known as the democratic party. No more Obamas allowed. Not facist enough. Neo left uber alles. God help us.

      • Robert Firth says:

        okboomer, I confess to having little interest in the coming disintegration of the USA. But I firmly agree with you about Tulsi Gabbard. As Shakespeare said, “So shines a good deed in a naughty world ” (The Merchant of Venice, Act V scene 1)

  3. richard b says:

    Super article, thanks. I liked your juxtaposition of collapse vs climate change – and which one are we at the most danger of experiencing?

    To my simple thought process we are going to get them both, and both will arrive full force some time this century.

    Fossil fuels look like they must run out at around 2050 or even sooner – they don’t need to disappear, there just needs to be too few of them to sustain BAU . Whether they go out in a bang of high prices or low prices is a really interesting point, but academic in the end. The fact is that their depletion ends BAU.

    The biggest problem with BAU is that it requires exponential economic growth to sustain the illusion of debt repayment. Once this penny drops we will have some form of global financial collapse.

    This need for exponential growth is driving the rape of the Amazon and other forests, the depletion of fisheries, and the exhaustion of all manner of natural resources. This includes the 6th mass extinction and the destruction of the ecosystems that sustain all life. BAU has been great to experience, but it totally carries the seeds of its own destruction.

    In climate, the last time co2 levels were as high as they are today trees were growing near the South Pole, sea levels were 20 metres higher than now, and global temperatures 3C-4C warmer. Forget about climate models, the historical record suggests our goals of staying under 2 degrees are just another piece of magical thinking. The climate is already gone, and we just have to wait for the inertia and feedback loops to kick in.

    What you seldom hear in the arguments is the realisation that the 8bn people on earth have got here in the climate of the past 50 years. This is the Goldilocks zone that might sustain a population of 8bn. Three degrees hotter will definitely not. And three or 4 (even 5 or 6) degrees looks like it’s locked and loaded. There is no sign of any reduction in our output of co2, and no plausible path to its reduction on a worldwide scale in the next 10 to 20 years – and this is a path guaranteed to destroy our climate.

    Another thing you seldom hear in the arguments is what happens after 2100. Okay, the timeline of everyone currently alive pretty much ends then, but what about the future generations of all life forms, and the terrible loss of our ecosystems. BAU does not have custodianship of the planet as a high priority. Just ask Donald Trump.

    So, faced with these awful realities, what do we do? Magical thinking seems to be the answer.

    Renewables will let BAU continue indefinitely. We will find ways to sequester co2 from the atmosphere on a global scale. We’ll manage to save our forests, turn all land over to agriculture, but still keep our wildlife and insects. Sustainable this and sustainable that (as if BAU is sustainable) , zero emission this and zero emission that. Oh, and clean coal too.

    Anyway, it seems crystal clear that the world will fight like mad to defer the collapse. This is the path we’ve chosen. But ultimately that’s all it is. We’re kicking the can down the road into a terrible future.

    • The earth’s systems are non-linear. There are a lot of feedback loops. One of them brings about collapse when resources per capita fall too low (or perhaps, simply fail to rise). For this reason, our simple view of what is ahead for other species is not really right. There may indeed be die off for species other than humans (and in addition to humans), but this is simply clearing the deck for new ecosystems. No economy is permanent. No climate in permanent. Everything keeps changing, in a finite world.

      Part of our problem is that we fail to understand how much change is baked into the way a finite self-organism system operates. Yes, the climate will change. It has all along. Yes, which species are dominant will change. That has happened before. We don’t have to feel like we are in charge and can change the situation. We can’t, even if we would like to. We are taking guilt, when there is no need to feel guilty. This is the way the system is designed to operate.

    • Robert Firth says:

      A good analysis, richard b. But you omitted to mention the elephant on the planet. The ultimate driver of exponential growth is the exponential growth of the human population. And there is no way out of that predicament that people are willing to contemplate. Not even Thomas Robert Malthus, who urged “moral restraint” as the solution, overlooking the fact that the immoral would then outbreed the moral into extinction.

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  8. Don Stewart says:

    Why we need climate models:
    See Dave Pollard’s current post at:
    http://howtosavetheworld.ca

    Take a look at the emissions chart.
    Spoiler…no we can’t save the world.

    But my main point is this: In my lifetime (80 years), emissions have increased by a factor of 10. But it is obvious that CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere have NOT increased by a factor of 10 (if they had, none of us would be here to question it). Which leads us down the path of realizing that we need to have climate models to help us understand the effects of the emissions. Such as: where are the emissions going if they are not all going into the air? Into the oceans? Outer space? Back into the land?

    It is also clear that the model is not likely to be primarily about modeling the supply of CO2 (and other greenhouse gases which can change climate), but instead about the intricate relationships which connect CO2 levels in the air and water and land and how those levels generate measurables such as ocean acidification and temperatures and air and land temperatures.

    Blaming the climate models for failing to generate one’s favorite projection of fossil fuel consumption is a failure to understand the problem.

    Don Stewart

    • “Blaming the climate models for failing to generate one’s favorite projection of fossil fuel consumption is a failure to understand the problem.”

      Those putting together the future scenarios have completely wrong ideas about what is possible in the future. The IPCC creates “assessments” that have impossible scenarios embedded in them. These assessments give the idea that we can walk away from fossil fuels. We cannot. Fossil fuels leave us through low prices and collapse. In fact, we seem to be at the edge of fossil fuels leaving us.

      A primary reason of the assessments seems to be to get us not to fear “Too little fossil fuels.” Instead, we are expected to embrace the hope, “Renewables” will save us.” This is a false promise, however.

      • Don Stewart says:

        Gail
        We have had plenty of models predicting consumption of fossil fuels, especially oil. We can go back to Hubbert’s original work, up through Robert’s work around 2005, and your work and the work of many others.

        All of these fossil fuel models essentially ignore the potential for climate change. That is, they do not consider that the world might collapse ecologically and all of the humans die and therefore don’t consume any fossil fuels.

        Given the realities of modeling, it’s not fair to criticize Hubbert for failing to take into account the potential of climate disruption to change the direction of fossil fuel use. Similarly, the climate modeling project was specifically set up and funded by politicians who wanted to control how things were approached. It’s not fair to criticize the climate modelers for failing to also model fossil fuel production.

        One can plug any value of future fossil fuel consumption one believes is likely into the models and they will generate forecasts of polar temperatures, average land temperatures, ocean acidification, ocean temperatures, etc. More models can take polar and ocean temperatures and predict events such as ice sheet melting and sea level rise, partly as a result of CO2 already produced melded with some forecast of future CO2 production.

        It is fair, in my opinion, to criticize the political use of emissions. For example, the political uses have steadfastly emphasized the need for renewables and efficiency, while preserving growth or achievement of the UN developmental goals. There have been zero prominent politicians (to my knowledge) who have acknowledged that renewables and efficiency will not generate the GDP required to both preserve the standard of living in the rich countries and also achieve the developmental goals in the poverty stricken countries.

        So your attack should be directed at the political use of the models…not the models themselves. Of course, ‘political use’ can involve scientists and business people and journalists and NGOs, as well as politicians.

        So far as I understand it, a big shortcoming of the models is their vagueness in predicting the effect of all the CO2 which has gone into the oceans. Will the oceans stop acting like such an effective sponge? Will some of that CO2 come back out of the ocean and into the air? What about the frozen methane? These are existential questions, which may not have really good answers from the models.

        Don Stewart

        • JT Roberts says:

          The problem I’m seeing in climate science is that it is similar to economic science. The climate is far more complex than people realize. The same is true with the economy. Gail has done a good job shedding light into how the economy actually works. It’s isn’t just a supply demand driven system.

          The climate is the same. CO2 is an element of our climate but it isn’t the only one and it isn’t the largest one. Water vapor is a much larger driver than CO2. The other problem is CO2s warming affect is nonlinear because of the percentage of radiation it reflects is linked to it’s molecular frequency. This is never considered in the climate models. So in simple terms if going from 200 to 400ppm results in 2deg warming the next 2deg would require 800ppm and the next 1600ppm.

          So it maybe for good reason that Hubbert and LTG never pointed to pollution as the limiting factor. Rather they both pointed to energy scarcity.

          However the fear generated by CO2 has had very significant benefits to politicians and businesses.

          The following is a Princeton professor explaining CO2

        • Robert Firth says:

          “So your attack should be directed at the political use of the models…not the models themselves.”

          Don, I am sympathetic to that viewpoint, and at one time agreed with it. Until I dug deeper, and discovered that many of the “models” were not built up from the science, but rather built down from a prior political goal, so that they could be used to enable that goal. In other words, “science for hire”, just like the science that told us smoking did not cause cancer, and the science that tells us the same about glyphosate. All bought and paid for by big business and big bureaucracy.

          So I rather tend to ignore the models, and judge the politics.

          • JT Roberts says:

            Repeat after me Abiogenic oil production.

            • Robert Firth says:

              Thank you for the comment. I’m familiar with the idea. Abundant oil exists deep within the Earth, where the temperature is so great a barrel of oil would last for about ten seconds before being reduced to methane and steam. And even if it did exist, it is far too deep to reach. Not, I fear, a saviour of BAU.

      • Kowalainen says:

        “In fact, we seem to be at the edge of fossil fuels leaving us.”

        Yes!

        But, lets pretend its the other way around.

  9. MG says:

    After 30 years, the cars are cheaper, but the homes are more expensive in Slovakia:

    https://spravy.pravda.sk/ekonomika/clanok/532928-od-neznej-30-rokov-zarabame-viac-auta-zlacneli-byty-zdrazeli/

    The article does not mention it, but the point is, that the homes and the cars need to be more energy efficient. The production of cars is more automated thanks to robots, but we need more workforce and special materials for individual homes due to their higher complexity.

    • It is harder to automate home production than car production, you are right.

      In the US, autos are said not to be more expensive, but the value comes from more required features that not everyone can afford: better bumpers, anti-lock brakes, better audio systems, electric systems to open and close windows, fancier paint.

      • MG says:

        Imagine that the EU adopted the directive that prescribes building only passive houses after 2019, which is gradually implemented by the member states.

        https://eur-lex.europa.eu/eli/dir/2010/31/oj

        This means more workforce which is already in short supply for meeting other EU requirements which are in force.

        The system will be collapsing because of the lack of the people for performing energy saving measures. The costly energy is useless. There will be a constant oversuply of energy like oil, but the declininy numbers of the people who can consume it.

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