ONLY ZERO CARBON ONLY ZERO CARBON ONLY ZERO CARBON ONLY ZERO CARBON ONLY ZERO CARBON ONLY ZERO
ONLY ZERO CARBON ONLY ZERO CARBON ONLY ZERO CARBON ON LY ZERO CARBON ONLY ZERO CARBON
From the ice cores and paleoclimatology James Hansen calculates the real long term climate sensitivity is 6C.
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Zero carbon:Who says?
"I think that arguments over temperature targets are a distraction," Ken Caldeira, a climate scientist at Stanford University and the Carnegie Institution, wrote in an e-mail exchange with The Yale Forum."We should be talking about emissions targets, and the right emission target is zero," Caldeira said. "We are going to solve the carbon-climate problem when we create an understanding that it is no longer acceptable to use the atmosphere as a waste dump … This should not be a discussion about targets, it should be a discussion about which kinds of objects people should be allowed to build."John Wibbey Yale Media Forum August 4, 2009
US Climate expert Ken Caldeira 2012: ‘The Only Ethical Path Is To Stop Using The Atmosphere As A Waste Dump For Greenhouse Gas Pollution’
1. Life-cycle analyses for natural gas.
Myhrvold and Caldeira (2012) presented a method for estimating climate
consequences of energy system transitions. We used every Life Cycle Assessment
study that we could get our hands on that provided the necessary level of
detail. We also, in the Supporting Online Material that accompanied our paper,
considered many cases with technological improvement. Our goal was to present a
simple analytic framework that others could use to analyze energy system
transitions in a physically defensible framework using numbers of their
I am a climate scientist, not a power plant
engineer. For the sake of discussion, I am happy to accept that 0.5 could be the
ratio of emissions from a natural gas plant relative to those from a coal plant,
and that something close to infinity could be the ratio of emissions from a
natural gas plant relative to those from an intrinsically carbon-emission free
technology (wind, solar, nuclear) constructed in a decarbonized economy of the
Under these assumptions, continued use of natural gas would delay
but not avoid unwanted climate outcomes. Only the intrinsically carbon-emission
free technologies can avoid these outcomes.
2. Overall framing.
Note: This is me speaking mostly as a human being, a moral and political
animal, and not me speaking as a scientist. As a human being, I ask questions
that are related to my values and my conception of what is right and wrong. As a
scientist, I answer these questions as objectively as I possibly can.
Every CO2 molecule is the same to the atmosphere. The atmosphere doesn’t
care whether that CO2 molecule came from coal or natural gas.
converting the climate of our planet to one that is similar to the hothouse
climates that existed on this planet when dinosaurs were the top predators. To a
first approximation, if we emit greenhouse gases half as rapidly as we do today,
we will wind up in the same place but it will take us twice as long to get
Economists estimate that it might cost something like 2% of our
GDP to convert our energy system into one that does not use the atmosphere as a
waste dump. When we burn fossil fuels and release the CO2 into the atmosphere,
we are saying “I am willing to impose tremendous climate risk on future
generations living throughout the world, so that I personally can be 2% richer
today.” I believe this to be fundamentally immoral. We are saying we want to
selfishly reap benefits today while imposing costs on strangers tomorrow.
Would we like it today if the Romans had developed a modern
technological society like ours, and their scientists told them that using the
atmosphere as a waste dump for greenhouse gases would melt the ice caps, acidity
the oceans, overheat the tropics, cause species extinctions, etc, and then they
decided to go ahead and do it anyway, just because they were selfish and didn’t
care about other people? Perhaps their economists too would do a net present
value calculation that would tell them that selfishness is the way to go. Would
we be happy to have all of this environmental damage comforted by the knowledge
that they knowingly imposed these costs on us in order to be 2% richer?
All I am asking is that we follow the golden rule: “Do unto others as
you would have them do unto you.” This is fundamentally a moral issue, not an
economic issue. Given what we know now, it is simply unethical to impose risk of
grave damage on future generations just so that we can have a few more consumer
The only ethical path is to stop using the atmosphere as
a waste dump for greenhouse gas pollution.
As a political strategy, are
we supposed to believe that somehow atmospheric CO2 concentrations will be lower
in the future if today we expand fossil fuel industries that rely on using the
atmosphere as a waste dump? Am I really supposed to persuaded that the path to
lower future CO2 concentrations is by building more power plants with
smokestacks that dump CO2 into the atmosphere?
If the problem is that we
have too many power plants that dump greenhouse gas pollution into the
atmosphere, I am highly skeptical that the way we are going to solve this
problem is by building more power plants that dump greenhouse gas pollution into
Energy demand is going up exponentially. Natural
gas relative to coal brings down emissions fractionally. If you multiply an
exponentially increasing curve times a constant, you get an exponentially
increasing curve. It takes a little longer to get to the same value, but it does
change the long-term trend. We have to decide whether we are in the business of
delaying bad outcomes or whether we are in the business of preventing bad
outcomes. If we want to prevent bad climate outcomes, we should stop using the
atmosphere as a waste dump.
I am reminded of the famous old National
Lampoon cover “If you don’t buy this magazine, we’ll kill this dog.”
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Natlamp73.jpg). Basically, people are saying
“If you don’t build this natural gas plant, we’ll build this coal plant.” As the
natural gas plant spews its CO2 into the atmosphere, we are supposed to be
grateful that they didn’t shoot the dog.
If we build these natural gas
plants, we reduce incentives to build the near zero emission energy system we
really need. Natural gas is a delaying tactic. It is time to start building the
near zero emission energy system of the future. There is no time to waste. There
is plenty of energy in solar and wind, and I believe that nuclear power can be
made safe. We need to improve these technologies, and come up with better ways
to store and distribute energy. But we need to get started on this program now.
Expansion of natural gas is a delaying tactic, not a solution.
wing says what they want: They don’t worry about political realism. They work to
make what they want be the political reality.
Their political positions
may be immoral, but at least they are usually logically coherent.
So-called “progressives” are afraid to say what they really want, and
instead worry about “political realism”. They start out with a compromised and
logically indefensible position. They are too afraid to say that we should not
be using the atmosphere to dispose of greenhouse gas pollution, so they argue
for building more power plants that use the atmosphere to dispose of greenhouse
gas pollution. It is a fundamentally compromised and indefensible position.
It is time to say what we really want, and not just propose things that
we think the saner elements of the right-wing nut community might accept.
It’s time for progressives to learn from the right wing that sometimes
having a backbone can be good political strategy.
approach vs.Technology Warming Potential approach
Myhrvold and Caldeira
(2012) presented a very simple climate model to predict climate consequences of
different energy system transitions. This model took into account the different
atmospheric lifetimes of different greenhouse gases and the different radiative
forcings of each gas, and also considered delays in the climate system caused
primarily by the thermal inertia of the ocean. This is a simple and physically
sensible way to look at the climate effects of different energy system
The Technology Warming Potential approach [of the new
Alvarez et al paper] seems to be a step backward from simply calculating the
temperature change caused by an emission. Thermal lags in the climate system
matter, and it matters to the climate of year 2050 whether radiative forcing
gets added to the climate system today or in year 2040.
Our approach of
calculating climate-impacts using a simple climate involves calculations that
are at about the same level of complexity as Alvarez et al (2012) used to to
calculate their Technology Warming Potentials. I do not understand the advantage
of sacrificing physical realism and ignoring the way thermal lags work in the
Many decades may pass before a transition from coal-based
electricity to alternative generation technologies yields substantial
temperature benefits. Panels above show the temperature increases predicted to
occur during a 40-yr transition of 1 TWe of generating capacity. Warming
resulting from continued coal use with no alternative technology sets an upper
bound (solid black lines), and the temperature increase predicted to occur even
if coal were replaced by idealized conservation with zero CO2 emissions (dashed
lines) represents a lower bound. The colored bands represent the range of
warming outcomes spanned by high and low life-cycle estimates for the energy
technologies illustrated: (A) natural gas, (B) coal with carbon capture and
storage, (C) hydroelectric, (D) solar thermal, (E) nuclear, (F) solar
photovoltaic and (G) wind.
Of course, their basic premise is correct: If you are going to burn natural gas, we need to focus on methane leakage from natural gas infrastructure.
– Ken Caldeira
Mitigation pathways ... would require substantial emissions reductions over the next few decades and near zero emissions of carbon dioxide by the end of the century.