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jon

Climate change, the latest findings, and how we use the outdoors?

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On 10/22/2018 at 8:58 PM, Eric T said:

It's not the 330 million in the US that matter, it the 7.5 billion and growing that cause the strain. 

https://www.google.com/amp/s/phys.org/news/2012-07-china-co2-person-europe.amp

Chinese people now make as much carbon as Europeans.  There's 1.4 bllion Chinese people, it's 4 plus USA's.  There's almost a billion people I Europe now, 3 USA's.  Let's not forget the 1.4 billion people in India that are using more and more.  Nothing we do matters. Just live your life and take the lumps as they come. 

Bullshit. US produces more greenhouse gasses per capita- what we do matters

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On 10/24/2018 at 9:35 AM, glassgowkiss said:

Bullshit. US produces more greenhouse gasses per capita- what we do matters

https://www.statista.com/statistics/271748/the-largest-emitters-of-co2-in-the-world/

Yes per capita, but that's changing fast and we still put out half of China. The point being it's global and and not a if we just use good light bulbs it will all go away kinda problem.  What are you really going to change about your life? 

Edited by Eric T

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https://amp.theguardian.com/environment/2018/nov/16/climate-change-champions-still-pursuing-devastating-policies-new-study-reveals

Here it is from the latest climate report.  It's ethnocentric to think we control the outcome of this thing.  What's scary is once you come to that truth the next is we don't control the outcome.  Now if you wanna read something even worse...

https://cleantechnica.com/2018/11/22/peak-oil-drastic-oil-shortages-imminent-says-iea/

What's concerning is the iea was the softest on peak oil, they said 2070, then 2050, look what they're saying now.  

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There's nothing wrong with "being the change that you want to see in the world," even if the tangible effects of doing so are indistinguishable from zero. The only downside I've seen is that peoples and societies can use these things as sort of a mental fig-leaf they use to hide from the reality of what's driving their personal emissions, and what'll actually move the needle in terms of global emissions. 

Carbon taxes, the expansion of fracking, and a massive increase in the number of nuclear power plants are about the only things that have the potential to reduce global CO2 emissions enough to have any measurable impact. When you look at reliability, power-density, scalability, and storage-capacity it's clear that the odds of expanding wind and solar enough to cover more than a fraction of our requirements for base-load power, much less increased demand in the future are zero. 

Unfortunately, most of the folks that I meet who are the most concerned with global warming can't stomach the idea of making carbon taxes revenue neutral to give them a prayer of actually being passed into law, hate fracking despite the fact that the natural gas produces ~1/2 the CO2 per BTU of coal, and have an uncritical hostility to nuclear power.  Until that changes, everything that happens in the realm of global warming activism isn't going to amount much more than a kind of therapeutic theater. 

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3 hours ago, JayB said:

hate fracking despite the fact that the natural gas produces ~1/2 the CO2 per BTU of coal

The problem isn't that natural gas produces 1/2 the CO2. The problem is that fracking (a) poisons the water supply and (b) leaks a lot of methane, which is a far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. There is growing evidence this more than offsets the reduction in CO2. Fracking is not a valid answer. 

Carbon taxes, yes. I'm more open to the idea of nuclear after reading Dr. James Hansen's Storms of my Grandchildren, though there are a lot of troublesome issues with it. But fracking will only make the problem worse. 

Ultimately, civilization cannot sustain its current trajectory, and I'm not convinced there will be a technical solution. This can really only end in disaster unless we make hard choices, or probably more likely: until disaster forces hard choices.

We don't have control over other people; we can only control ourselves, and the choices we make matters. The best we can do as individuals is make life choices that reduce our footprint (eat vegan, use alternative transportation to single occupant cars, reduce consumerism, etc.); support politicians that are not in the pockets of fossil fuel, meat, and dairy industries; and don't support industries that destroy what little old growth rainforest we have left (palm oil, meat/dairy, etc.).

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I have to think nuclear power would be our best bet if it were not a third rail of politics.  A politician arguing for nuclear power is going to get hate from the left on general misguided principle along with all the fossil fuel corps are people too.

It is true that nuclear power is a little scary.  There could be an accident that poisons a limited geographic area until the practical end of time, but what is global warming going to do to the entire world? The particulate pollution from fossil fuel burning is basically poisoning all the air in the vicinity.

Other methods of energy extraction also destroy limited geographic areas:  mining for coal (open pit mines) or hydroelectric projects (RIP lovely river valleys).  Seems like it's time to take the risk on nuclear.

How many nuclear power disasters have we had?  Chernobyl, Three Mile Island (close call?), and Fukushima?  Any more?   

Fukushima got hit by a once-in-100 year disaster and how many people died?  Like 14?  How many die every year in a single coal mine in China?  

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The following is fron MIT Engineer Saul Griffith. 

The world currently runs on about 16 terawatts (trillion watts) of energy, most of it burning fossil fuels. To level off at 450 ppm of carbon dioxide, we will have to reduce the fossil fuel burning to 3 terawatts and produce all the rest with renewable energy, and we have to do it in 25 years or it’s too late. Currently about half a terawatt comes from clean hydropower and one terawatt from clean nuclear. That leaves 11.5 terawatts to generate from new clean sources.

That would mean the following. (Here I’m drawing on notes and extrapolations I’ve written up previously from discussion with Griffith):

“Two terawatts of photovoltaic would require installing 100 square meters of 15-percent-efficient solar cells every second, second after second, for the next 25 years. (That’s about 1,200 square miles of solar cells a year, times 25 equals 30,000 square miles of photovoltaic cells.) Two terawatts of solar thermal? If it’s 30 percent efficient all told, we’ll need 50 square meters of highly reflective mirrors every second. (Some 600 square miles a year, times 25.) Half a terawatt of biofuels? Something like one Olympic swimming pools of genetically engineered algae, installed every second. (About 15,250 square miles a year, times 25.) Two terawatts of wind? That’s a 300-foot-diameter wind turbine every 5 minutes. (Install 105,000 turbines a year in good wind locations, times 25.) Two terawatts of geothermal? Build 3 100-megawatt steam turbines every day-1,095 a year, times 25. Three terawatts of new nuclear? That’s a 3-reactor, 3-gigawatt plant every week-52 a year, times 25.”

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Can someone tell me how the environmentalist lobby is reconciling the removal of hydro-electric dams? Seems like a pretty good source of clean electricity to this unsophisticated bonehead.

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15 minutes ago, Bronco said:

Can someone tell me how the environmentalist lobby is reconciling the removal of hydro-electric dams? Seems like a pretty good source of clean electricity to this unsophisticated bonehead.

I think the argument is is that, at least on the West Coast, there are some dams where the cost/harm they inflict on salmon stocks equals or exceed the value of the power they generate. There are some cases like the dam on the Elwha where that analysis seems plausible, and others on the mainstem of the Columbia where it's much less so, even though the cost of mitigating the damage they do to salmon stocks runs into the hundreds-of-millions per year. You'd also have to add in flood control, irrigation, and shipping benefits to most of these analyses, which more or less makes removing those dams a non-starter.

If you are interested, there's are a couple of great books that do a deep dive into the history/politics/economics of dam building in the Western US as part of a broader analysis of the overharvest-and-habitat destruction story that lead to the widespread collapse of salmon stocks (at least from historical levels). The first is "Salmon without Rivers," and the second is "King of Fish." Both highly recommended if you're into PNW history. 

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18 hours ago, chucK said:

I have to think nuclear power would be our best bet if it were not a third rail of politics.  A politician arguing for nuclear power is going to get hate from the left on general misguided principle along with all the fossil fuel corps are people too.

It is true that nuclear power is a little scary.  There could be an accident that poisons a limited geographic area until the practical end of time, but what is global warming going to do to the entire world? The particulate pollution from fossil fuel burning is basically poisoning all the air in the vicinity.

Other methods of energy extraction also destroy limited geographic areas:  mining for coal (open pit mines) or hydroelectric projects (RIP lovely river valleys).  Seems like it's time to take the risk on nuclear.

How many nuclear power disasters have we had?  Chernobyl, Three Mile Island (close call?), and Fukushima?  Any more?   

Fukushima got hit by a once-in-100 year disaster and how many people died?  Like 14?  How many die every year in a single coal mine in China?  

-Totally agree about the political barriers standing in the way of any expansion of nuclear power. My theory is that nuclear power became intractably associated with nuclear weaponry (even before Three Mile Island, etc) and that ossified into a sort of a (mostly) uncritical hostility to nuclear power in the public mind in general and the left in particular.

What's interesting to me that that in that period the France of the 1970's embarked on a crash program that saw them go from getting next to none of their power from nuclear at the onset of the 1973 embargo, to something like ~50% by the mid eighties, and 75% now. As far as I know, they have an impeccable record when it comes to safety, but the French example rarely figures into the public discussion. Ditto for the fact that our carrier and submarine fleets have been powered by nuclear reactors since the 1950's with an equally outstanding safety record. 

There are ideological obstacles to any kind of a rational, non-utopian response to climate change on both the left and the right, but I think there's an unfortunate asymmetry between the two when it comes to nuclear power. If the left suddenly adopted the ideological priorities of the right and put economic growth, material abundance, etc ahead of reducing CO2 emissions, we'd basically just continue on the same path since fossil fuels are the least expensive, most abundant, and most reliable source of energy. If the right adopted the current framework of the left, including its stance on nuclear power, there'd be a consensus that we need to shift to non-emitting renewables and zero chance of that ever happening because scaling up solar, wind, etc to the level that would be required would be physically, economically, and technically impossible. It'd also very quickly prove to be politically impossible once the cost of power went up enough to cause significant economic dislocation, unemployment, and miscellaneous other human suffering.  

-I'm also glad to see someone injecting consistent mortality calculations into the discussion. AFAIK nuclear is literally hundreds of times safer than other conventional power sources, including hydropower, wind, and solar. If you take the math behind deaths per-unit of C02 emissions seriously, you could conceivable argue that over it's life cycle the reactor saved far more lives than it took as a consequence of preventing X^n millions of tons of C02. 


 

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There's two problems with nuclear. 1. It makes electricity.  2. We'll eventually run out of fuel. Without digging up the footage when the vice provost of Physics at Cal Tech was asked about nuclear he said if we seriously ramped it up the fuel would last 2 decades.  

Oil is every ship, plane, truck, tractor, bulldozer, plastics, fertilizer, pesticides, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and 100's of different petro chemicals that go into thousands of manufacturing processes.  Electricity is basically a luxury, the most important thing electrical does for us is pump our water followed closely by the internet.  We can't just dump oil for electricity.  The four truest words ever spoken are "we run on diesel."

Edited by Eric T

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There are a lot of mis-representations about renewable energy and fossil fuels. Perhaps the best way to address these is with numbers from 'back of the envelope calculations'. 

David MacKay, who sadly is no longer with us, was a physicist who devoted the latter part of his life to making the numbers around energy production and usage understandable to everyone. He wrote an excellent book and website: Sustainable Energy Without all the Hot Air. It's available along with lots of other great content for free on the web here

Two simple messages: First, there are plenty of things that you as an individual can do to help reduce energy usage, so don't throw up your hands and give up. Second, if you really want to generate a lot of renewable power and you have a country with deserts, as we do in the US, you could go a long way with solar. 

Here he is in a TED talk. 

 

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On 11/29/2018 at 10:56 PM, Rad said:

Hmmm. Video not inserting. Here is the link: TedX talk by David MacKay

Rad, 

That ted talk wasn't encouraging.  Basically that very informed scientist says the future is a big shit sandwich and we're all taking a bite. 

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5 hours ago, Eric T said:

Rad, 

That ted talk wasn't encouraging.  Basically that very informed scientist says the future is a big shit sandwich and we're all taking a bite. 

An inconvenient truth. 

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It's December. Besides a couple of ascents on Colfax, and maybe a couple ascents of some shitty ice blobs, accessed from Duffy Lake Rd, there is ZERO ice so far. We used to be able to climb reliably ice from mid November through mid March. Besides last 2 seasons, the new norm is basically only January and February. Rockies is still reliable, but most definitely seasons are also shorter (3 winters ago Left Side Weeping Wall fell off by mid March . At this point I am seriously contemplating selling my ice gear, as investing 2-3K into something you can do reliably for maybe 10-12 days per year does not add up. Probably will not buy a new pair of skis either. We will still have some good seasons, but more of the norm is a 2 months winters, with minimal snow and ice. 

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