Author: agwjrb

One of the Advantages of Renewable Energy

There are many obvious good reasons for transitioning to renewable energy, which may be our only hope of avoiding the worst effects of global warming/climate change, but I think one is particularly important:

That would be because there are too many stupid, lazy, and/or selfish people who do not want to stop with their fossil fuel binge for some “obscure” concern about the future of life on our planet. The only reason good enough for their stopping with fossil fuels is if something “better” comes along that allows them to live even more extravagantly. In other words we tend to be greedy and always want “more, more, more”, never less.

However implementing renewable energy technology in lieu of fossil fuels has the potential to make things so much better that even the greedy will prefer it.

So we need to go full-blast on developing and deploying renewable energy technologies, to get the greedy on-board too.

Read about some more of the advantages of renewable energy here (https://wp.me/p72ZfM-4Z)

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No matter how it goes with the Global Warming / Climate Change debate, we should in any case transition to Renewable Energy.

Look at it this way: If the science turns out to be right and human caused GW/CC keeps on getting worse, transitioning to renewable energy may be the only thing that saves us from an environmental catastrophe. If GW/CC does not happen, we would still benefit from the wonderful economic, societal, and environmental advantages that renewable energy offers.

Some of the advantages of renewable energy:

One big advantage is that renewable energy makes economic sense. People used to think renewable energy, like wind and solar, was more expensive and not affordable. But things are changing. Electrical energy from large solar arrays and wind farms is already cheaper than coal fired and natural gas energy in many areas. And the costs of wind and solar are coming down fast, while coal and natural gas are going up as more of their hidden costs get included in the price.

Also consider that we won’t have the on-going costs of refueling wind, solar, geothermal, wave, tidal, and other renewables, the fuel is free. We would have just the relatively low costs to build and deploy equipment like solar panels and wind turbines, and then some minimal operating costs.

Renewable energy also would mean more stable future costs because of no fluctuation in fuel prices that have to be accounted for with fossil fuels.

Also know that the energy invested in building some renewable energy projects, like a wind farm, is recovered in only about 6 months, from there on it is a “plus”. The energy invested in building coal and natural gas power plants takes many years to recover, if at all.

And a recent “life cycle cost” study finds that electricity from renewable energy is much more efficient to produce. One unit of energy invested in a coal power plant construction, operation and demolition yields 9 units of electricity. One unit of energy invested in wind farms produces 44 units of electricity. And one unit of energy invested in solar farms produces 26 units of electricity.

Renewable energy would be a reliable domestic energy source far into the future. A recent study concludes there is more than enough wind energy off the east coast of the US to supply all the energy needs of all the east coast cities.

Also solar and wind farms are relatively small and dispersed. So a natural or man-made disaster at one of them would not bring the whole system down, unlike centralized fossil fueled power plants. And wind and solar farms would take up very little of food production land, just using the marginal areas or dispersed right out among the crops.

Another positive aspect of converting to renewable energy is there would be no more of the awful despoiling of the Earth from mining, mountain top removal, drilling, pipeline and coal sludge leaks, and air pollution associated with the production, transport, and burning of coal, oil, and natural gas. In contrast, renewable energy facilities can be easily dismantled, the area restored, and materials recycled, when their useful life is finished.

And then the development and deployment of new renewable energy technology would stimulate our economy, and many new solid jobs would be created from it. An older study estimated that investing in renewable energy development would yield about three times more new clean jobs than existing dirty fossil fuel jobs lost. In fact that is already happening, the study was correct.

Also consider that if fossil fuel energy sources didn’t have so much of their costs hidden, called “external costs” which are not directly paid for in the cost of the fuel, the positive economics of renewable energy would be much clearer. Some researchers say that the real cost of a gallon of gasoline is closer to $15.00, which we pay indirectly without knowing it. The hidden costs of burning gasoline, diesel, oil, coal, and natural gas come from dealing with the cleanup of oil spills and coal ash storage failures, health problems from breathing polluted air, contamination of drinking water, damage from gas pipe line explosions and oil train wrecks, wars and foreign involvement needed to keep the world’s oil flowing, guarding against terrorist attacks on the concentrated fossil fuel infrastructure, disaster preparedness, the costs of stabilizing an uncertain energy source, etc. And then there are the big disasters that are likely coming, such as the mega storms, fires, flooding, droughts, famine, and fighting that climate change will cause.

Also there is the distinct possibility of petroleum fuel shortages, which could make the price for them sky-rocket again. One line of reasoning says that as the easier-to-produce conventional petroleum is used up, it will take more and more fuel to produce new fuel from the remaining unconventional petroleum. In other words it takes some of the fuel produced from petroleum, like gasoline, diesel, and kerosene, to produce more gasoline, diesel, and kerosene. And that trend could eventually lead to the fuel producers needing a large amount of the fuel they just produced to produce more fuel. That would result in less fuel left over to run our cars, or for farm equipment, trucks, trains, or for jet fuel.

Ethanol made from corn is similar to the above. Some studies say it takes more fossil fuel energy to produce ethanol than there is energy in the produced ethanol. In contrast, easy-to-produce renewable energy sources will never run out.

Then consider that if we were using a “harmless” energy source such as renewables to allow us live a more pleasant life, we wouldn’t have to feel as guilty about it. And there would no longer be any energy limitations on our efforts to make things better.

How do we go about transitioning to renewable energy sources?

To start with we need to reduce our personal consumption of fossil energy in our daily activities. Some studies show the average carbon emissions per person in the USA has been about 20 metric tons per year. The world-wide per-person average has been about 4 metric tons. We could painlessly get our carbon emissions way down to an environmentally sustainable level, at least an 80% reduction. It is doable.

On a small scale, a few pioneers have been able to make that 80% reduction in their own households by “doing the green thing”. In my case I took it on as an interesting do-it-yourself project. I installed some solar thermal panels, enough to get hot water completely free 10 months of the year. I installed some solar PV panels to charge a small battery bank for supplemental (and backup ) power. I can run my TV, computer, refrigerator, and other small items off-grid with it if necessary. I arranged to buy my grid electrical power from wind farms. And I also use that wind generated electricity to run a heat pump to help heat my house, which I supplement with a wood pellet heater. I enrolled in a “peak time rewards” program where I get rewarded for reducing my grid power usage during high load periods.

I also got a lot more efficient with the energy I do use with energy efficient appliances and lighting, and I keep the use of them to a minimum. My small hybrid car (Toyota Prius C) can get better than 50 mpg on most trips. A plug-in hybrid car I drove for awhile was getting 80 mpg on short trips. I recently bought a low cost used electric car (Nissan Leaf) for local trips, and do most of it’s battery charging with some solar panels and inverters I rigged up. (And with the electric Leaf there are no more inconvenient stops at the stinking gas station handling a filthy nozzle, then standing in line to hand over ever more of my hard-earned money to the rich oil industry barons.)

Other things helped: I tightened up my small house, added more insulation, and installed a white metal roof on it when it needed a new one. I eat mostly simple foods, and not much meat. I minimize purchasing frivolous stuff, get a lot of “bang for the buck” from what I do buy, and recycle what I can when I’m done with it. I retired early from full time work, so no regular commutes, and now work mostly from home. I do a lot of bike riding for fun, and it keeps my weight way down for better health. I even built a 3-wheeled electric bike that does 35 mph and goes 40 miles on a charge, it would be great for commuting.

There was no loss of any quality of life from what I did by employing green technologies and strategies, in fact it got better in many ways. I can’t say if I’m saving any money or not, but that wasn’t the point. There are other ways to measure the value of something than just monetarily.

There would be a lot more needed to get a nation-wide 80% reduction than just what I did, but at least it shows that nearly anybody can do things which would help get us started down the right path. Simply changing routines to be more efficient would be helpful. Solar panels for hot water are no big deal to install in many situations by hanging a few of them on a sunny south wall, and they have a short pay-back period. Grid-tied PV solar panels are being set up on home roof-tops, car ports, and back-yards everywhere, as well as on commercial, educational, and institutional buildings.

In some states, just a few clicks at certain web sites can convert you over to wind or solar generated grid electricity (like http://www.clearviewenergy.com/ but watch out for scams ). Household size battery packs are now available to help provide grid stability. Another way utilities can reduce the gap from dark days or a lull in winds is to use “demand response,” which involves paying commercial, industrial, and even residential customers to reduce electricity demand during those hours.

For transportation, much more efficient vehicles are readily available. Going from a 20 mpg SUV or pickup truck to a 50 mpg hybrid car makes a big difference in CO2 emissions, electric powered cars for local trips even more. Bio-fuels made with clean processes are becoming available for freight and agriculture uses, and the costs are reasonable compared to fossil fuels when external costs are factored in.

On a larger scale, our attitude and awareness needs to change.

Rather than just accepting more carbon-belching fossil fuel power plant construction, we need to throw as much support as we can towards more development and deployment of renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, geothermal, wave and tidal, etc. We must resist any more expansion of fossil fuel extraction and it’s transport infrastructure, and insist that capital be poured into renewable energy development.

Building up the nation-wide renewable energy system that we need will be a major endeavor however, requiring a large expansion of renewable energy collection capacity and distribution infrastructure. Of course we need to avoid letting the government pick and choose how to do it, we need to let the free market work. The government’s role is to establish goals, along with fair and effective rules for the markets to work within.

However here is a possible scenario, at least to get us started right away, as most of the technology already exists: A vast increase in the number of renewable energy collection devices like wind turbines and solar thermal and PV panels will need to be deployed in appropriate locations. Large scale energy storage systems, like pumped hydro, flow batteries, solar-thermal storage tanks, will be needed to deal with the short term variability issues of solar and wind. Load scheduling will help reduce peak demands. For the cold season, farm crops like edible beans for biomass, grown during the summer, harvested in the fall, and directly burnt during the winter would count as both energy collecting and energy storage.

Also new long distance HVDC electrical transmission lines to move the energy from where it is produced to where it is needed will be required. There are several HVDC lines already planned for the USA (but are encountering bureaucratic obstacles). Some new smaller, safer modular nuclear reactor power stations may also be needed to supplement renewable energy power and for emergencies, and should work well on the new HVDC grid. Small natural gas “peaker” plants and home generators, which can power up on short notice, will probably be needed for awhile to help get thru dark and/or calm times. Probably some petroleum fuel will still be needed for defense, industry, and emergencies, but could be tolerable if we reduce our routine use of them enough.

Renewable energy economics:

Studies show that if we start right away it is economically feasible to make the needed changes on a national scale and get enough of it in place within 25 years to be effective in mitigating GW/CC. To help get things going, in addition to what we can do ourselves, we need to get our elected representatives to create and pass legislation so the economic advantages of renewable energy would be more apparent. That should include doing away with the $20,000,000,000 a year in on-going tax advantages the fossil fuel industry gets, which would help level the playing field. Renewable fuels have had some advantages in the way of subsidies too, but unlike fossil fuels, they will soon expire. And even then their unsubsidized costs will in many cases be lower than the tax-advantaged costs of fossil fuels.

Some experts say we should also require a more direct payment of all the other hidden costs of burning fossil fuels, by putting in place a rising-rate carbon emissions tax. They say we pay to have our other wastes, like trash and sewage, be properly dealt with, so why not the carbon pollution from burning fossil fuels? The tax would address the external costs of burning fossil fuels that we pay thru other means. Some say that all the revenue from the tax should be returned directly to the tax payer, with each getting an equal amount back. That way those who reduced carbon emissions would make out, as they would pay less carbon tax than they got back in refunds, and so would start seeing a financial benefit right away. Those who didn’t reduce carbon emissions would come up short in their refunds, which would prod them to become more efficient. The carbon tax would enable and encourage natural market forces to reward efficiency and innovation.

All this would spur new economic growth right away from the development and deployment of the new clean energy systems we will be wanting sooner or later anyway. And who knows what other wonderful new things might come from it. It would be like what the space race did for us in stimulating the development of computers, satellite navigation, wire-less communications, etc.

Lets Get On With it.

Still you might think that expecting the USA to go full speed with the conversion to renewable energy and have it in place within 25 years is not likely to happen with all the obstacles in front of us. But once we start backing off on fossil fuel use, and begin to seriously deploy renewable energy, more people and financial interests will get involved when they see the value of changing how we do things. It would be a snowball effect, starting out small, but building up rapidly.

Because so much of what we do now is unsustainable anyway, things will change whether we like it or not. We need to steer the changes in a direction that we can live with, toward renewable energy. We have plenty to gain if we start right away, and nearly everything to lose if we do nothing. So let’s get on with it.

by JRB

updated 05/22/18

Should We Pursue a Rapid Conversion to Renewable Energy, or Continue On with Business-as-Usual?

As I travel around I find that most people I chat with about this question do not have much awareness it’s many components. This essay is an attempt to shed light on some of these so the answer to the question will be easier to see. I will start with some basics.

Climate scientists are saying ”The green-house gases that we are releasing into the air by burning fossil fuels like coal, natural gas and oil, are very likely causing the climate to change due to the global warming they facilitate. The changed climate will likely have devastating consequences for life on Earth”. But then there are some popular and outspoken individuals who claim the scientists are wrong. These contrarians are saying in effect “Burning fossil fuels is not causing the warming. The climate is always naturally changing, and there is nothing we can do about it.”. Just working from these two opposing statements, how can we decide what direction we should go with our energy future? For an optimal answer, we need more information, so let’s look deeper into the issue.

The Bad News From the Scientists:

After analyzing vast amounts of collected data, climate scientists say they have found solid evidence that over the last 130 years or so, since the start of the industrial age, the Earth’s average temperature has gotten warmer. And there is strong evidence in the data that the warming is mostly due to human activity. Additionally, they have found the speed of warming has been faster than any seen in the geological record for thousands of years.

From this evidence, nearly all of the thousands of climate science experts world-wide, over 97% of them, agree that this episode of human caused global warming and climate change, and how fast it is happening, is a major threat to us, and all the other life on our planet.

Some scientists say the disrupting effects have already started, as seen in the greater number of weather extremes and unusual conditions being experienced nearly everywhere, with more violent storms, more flooding, worse droughts, more wild fires, etc. Polar ice is melting at unprecedented rates, the oceans are getting more acidic, sea level is rising, plants and animals are creeping farther north or higher up the mountains, and numerous other signs. Some recent reports say the 14 warmest years in the recorded history have all occurred in the last 15 years. And that in 2015, the Earth experienced the warmest year in recorded history. And then 2016 beat the 2015 record.

(From here on in this essay I’ll call the issue “GW/CC”, for global warming and climate change).

They Say There is Hope:

However the scientists say there is hope we can deal with GW/CC. In the past millions of years major climate changes have happened due to natural unstoppable forces. But nearly all of the thousands of climate experts say this GW/CC episode is happening due to human activities, primarily from the burning of coal, oil, and natural gas. These are called fossil fuels because they were formed millions of years ago as decaying plants and animals turned into carbon. When we burn the fossil fuels, the carbon is released and becomes CO2 in the atmosphere. The added CO2 traps more heat from the sun, over-heating the planet. Methane from some of our other activities is also a potent global warming gas.

The good news from the experts is that if we could cut back enough on the release of these gases, we could greatly reduce the GW/CC problem. Obviously one of the main ways to do this is to transition away from burning so much fossil fuel, and replace it with carbon-free sources of energy, often called “renewable energy”. Another is to become much more efficient in our use of energy. Another is to substantially reduce the leakage of methane we are causing.

The Contrarian‘s Position:

For various reasons the contrarians do not agree with the climate scientists. I would go into some of the credible scientific evidence they use to deny GW/CC, but there isn’t any. That is, it is all just made up pseudoscience (fake science). They try to mislead and misinform us because they know the solutions to GW/CC would cause a major hit on the profits of the big fossil fuel industry, of which most of them are connected. So one way they fight back is to sow a lot of doubt about the GW/CC science, which gives people who don’t want to change how they live an excuse to not act on GW/CC. ( And I won’t go into detail here about that either, but you can read my other essays for an in depth discussion at https://agw-cc.com/ ).

I personally buy the science, and agree we should start transitioning to renewable energy ASAP. However I also think that the value of converting to renewable energy as soon as possible stands on it’s own merits, regardless of the GW/CC issue. Even if the science is wrong, there are so many both near and long term advantages to renewable energy over fossil fuels, it would be a mistake to not pursue it as fast as we can. And it would put us in a lot better shape whether GW/CC happens or not.

What are the advantages of converting to renewable energy aside from reducing global warming and climate change?

For one thing it makes economic sense. There are people who think renewable energy is not affordable”. But they are wrong. Wind and solar energy are already cheaper than coal fired and natural gas energy in many areas. And the costs of wind and solar are coming down fast, while the cost of coal and natural gas is going up as their hidden costs get exposed and are required to be more directly paid.

Also there have been several articles about possible petroleum fuel shortages, which could make the price for them sky-rocket. One said in effect that as the easier-to-produce conventional petroleum is used up, it will take more and more fuel to produce new fuel from the remaining unconventional petroleum. It takes some of the fuel produced from petroleum, like gasoline, diesel, and kerosene, to produce more gasoline, diesel, and kerosene. And that eventually the fuel producers would need the entire amount of fuel they just produced to produce more fuel. That would result in no fuel left over to run our cars, or for farm equipment, trucks, trains, or for jet fuel. Ethanol made from corn is similar to that. Some studies say it takes more fossil fuel energy to produce ethanol than there is energy in the produced ethanol. In contrast, easy-to-produce renewable fuels will never run out.

Then consider that we won’t have the on-going costs of refueling wind, solar, geothermal, wave, tidal, and other renewables, the fuel is free. We would have just the job-producing first costs to build and deploy them, along with some minimal operational costs. Renewable energy also would mean more stable future costs because of no fluctuation in fuel prices.

And it would be a reliable domestic energy source far into the future. A recent study concludes there is more than enough wind energy off the east coast of the US to supply all the energy needs of all the east coast cities.

Also know that the energy invested in building some renewable energy projects, like a wind farm, is recovered in only about 6 months, from there on it is a “plus”. The energy invested in building coal and natural gas power plants takes many years to recover, if at all.

And a recent “life cycle cost” study finds that renewable energy is much more efficient to produce. One unit of energy invested in a coal power plant yields 9 units of electricity. One unit of energy invested in wind farms produces 44 units of electricity. And one unit of energy invested in solar farms produces 26 units of electricity.

Also solar and wind farms are relatively small and dispersed. So a natural or man-made disaster at one of them would not bring the whole system down, unlike centralized fossil fueled power plants.

Another positive aspect of converting to renewable energy is there would be no more of the awful despoiling of the Earth from mining, mountain top removal, drilling, pipeline and coal sludge leaks, and air pollution associated with the production, transport, and burning of coal, oil, and natural gas. In contrast, renewable energy facilities can be easily dismantled, the area restored, and materials recycled, when their useful life is finished.

Then consider that if we were using a nearly “harmless” energy source such as renewables to allow us live a more pleasant life, we wouldn’t have to feel as guilty about it.

And then the development and deployment of new renewable energy technology would stimulate our economy, and many new solid jobs would be created from it. An older study estimated that investing in renewable energy development would yield about three times more new clean jobs than existing dirty fossil fuel jobs lost. In fact that is already happening, the study was correct.

Also consider that if fossil fuel energy sources didn’t have so much of their costs hidden, called “external costs” which are not directly paid for in the cost of the fuel, the positive economics of renewable energy would be much clearer. Some researchers say that the real cost of a gallon of gasoline is closer to $15.00, which we pay indirectly without knowing it. The hidden costs of burning gasoline, diesel, oil, coal, and natural gas come from dealing with the cleanup of oil spills and coal ash storage failures, health problems from breathing polluted air, contamination of drinking water, damage from gas pipe line explosions and oil train wrecks, wars and foreign involvement needed to keep the world’s oil flowing, guarding against terrorist attacks on the concentrated fossil fuel infrastructure, disaster preparedness, the costs of stabilizing an uncertain energy source, etc. And then there are the big disasters that are likely coming, such as the mega storms, fires, flooding, droughts, famine, and fighting that climate change will cause.

What are waiting for? Let’s get on with it while there is still time.

We need to throw as much support as we can towards more development and deployment of renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, geothermal, wave and tidal, etc. We must fight any more expansion of fossil fuel extraction and it’s transport infrastructure, and insist that capital be poured into renewable energy development.

We also need to reduce our personal consumption of fossil energy in our daily activities. Some studies show the average carbon emissions per person in the USA has been about 20 metric tons per year. The world-wide per-capita average has been about 4 metric tons. It is obvious from these figures who has caused most of the problem, and who has the capacity to most easily fix it. We need to get our carbon emissions way down to an environmentally sustainable level, at least an 80% reduction. It is doable.

On a small scale, a few pioneers have been able to make that 80% reduction in their own households by “doing the green thing”. In my case I took it on as an interesting do-it-yourself project. I installed some solar thermal panels for hot water, enough to get hot water completely free 10 months of the year. I installed some solar PV panels to charge a small battery bank for supplemental (and backup ) power. I can run my TV, computer, refrigerator, and other small items off-grid with it. I arranged to buy my grid electrical power from wind farms. And I also use that wind generated electricity to run a heat pump to help heat my house, which I supplement with a wood pellet heater. I enrolled in a “peak time rewards” program where I get rewarded for reducing my grid power usage during high load periods.

I also got a lot more efficient with the energy I do use with energy efficient appliances and lighting, and I keep the use of them to a minimum. My small hybrid car (Toyota Prius C) can get better than 50 mpg on most trips. A plug-in hybrid car I drove for awhile was getting 80 mpg on short trips. I recently bought a low cost used electric car (Nissan Leaf) for local trips, and do most of it’s battery charging with some solar panels and inverters I rigged up.

Other things helped: I tightened up my small house, added more insulation, and installed a white metal roof on it when it needed a new one. I eat mostly simple foods, and not much meat. I minimize purchasing frivolous stuff, get a lot of “bang for the buck” from what I do buy, and recycle what I can when I’m done with it. I retired early from full time work, so no regular commutes, and now work mostly from home. I do a lot of bike riding for fun, and it keeps my weight way down for better health. I even built a 3-wheeled electric bike that does 35 mph and goes 40 miles on a charge, it would be great for commuting.

There was no loss of any quality of life from what I did by employing green technologies and strategies, in fact it got better in many ways. I can’t say if I’m saving any money or not, but that wasn’t the point. There are other ways to measure the value of something than just monetarily.

There would be a lot more needed to solve the GW/CC problem than just what I did, but at least it shows that nearly anybody can do things which would help get us started down the right path. Simply changing routines to be more efficient would be helpful. Solar panels for hot water are no big deal to install in many situations by hanging a few of them on a sunny south wall, and they have a short pay-back period. Grid-tied PV solar panels are being set up on home roof-tops, car ports, and back-yards everywhere, as well as on commercial, educational, and institutional buildings.

In some states, just a few clicks at certain web sites can convert you over to wind generated grid electricity (like http://www.clearviewenergy.com/ but watch out for scams ). Household size battery packs are now available to help provide grid stability. Another way utilities can reduce the gap from dark days or a lull in winds is to use “demand response,” which involves paying commercial, industrial, and even residential customers to reduce electricity demand during those hours.

For transportation, much more efficient vehicles are readily available. Going from a 20 mpg SUV or pickup truck to a 50 mpg hybrid car makes a big difference in CO2 emissions, electric powered cars for local trips even more. Bio-fuels made with clean processes are becoming available for freight and agriculture uses, and the costs are reasonable compared to fossil fuels when external costs are factored in.

Of course building up the nation-wide renewable energy system that we need will be a major endeavor, requiring a huge expansion of renewable energy generation capacity and infrastructure. But we need to avoid letting the government pick and choose how to do it, we need to let the free market work. The government’s role is to establish goals, along with fair and effective rules for the markets to work within.

However here is a possible scenario, at least to get us started right away, as most of the technology already exists:

A vast increase in the number of renewable energy collection devices like wind turbines and solar PV will need to be deployed in appropriate locations. Large scale energy storage systems, like pumped hydro, flow batteries, solar-thermal storage tanks, will be needed to deal with the short term variability issues of solar and wind. Load scheduling will help reduce peak demands. For the cold season, farm crops like edible beans for biomass, grown during the summer, harvested in the fall, and directly burnt during the winter would count as both energy collecting and energy storage.

Also new long distance HVDC electrical transmission lines to move the energy from where it is produced to where it is needed will be required. There are several HVDC lines already planned for the USA (but are encountering bureaucratic obstacles). Some new smaller, safer modular nuclear reactor power stations may also be needed to supplement renewable energy power and for emergencies, and should work well on the new HVDC grid. Small natural gas “peaker” plants and home generators, which can power up on short notice, will probably be needed for awhile to help get thru dark and/or calm days. Probably some petroleum fuel will still be needed for defense, industry, and emergencies, but could be tolerable if we reduce our routine use of them enough.

Studies show that if we start right away it is economically feasible to make the needed changes on a national scale and get enough of it in place within 25 years to be effective, which is about all the time we have. To help get things going, in addition to what we can do ourselves, we need to get our elected representatives to create and pass legislation so the economic advantages of renewable energy would be more apparent. That should include doing away with the $20,000,000,000 a year in tax advantages the fossil fuel industry gets, which would help level the playing field.

Some experts say we should also require a more direct payment of all the other hidden costs of burning fossil fuels, by putting in place a rising-rate carbon emissions tax. They say we pay to have our other wastes, like trash and sewage, be properly dealt with, so why not the carbon pollution from burning fossil fuels? The tax would address the external costs of burning fossil fuels that we pay thru other means. Some say that all the revenue from the tax should be returned directly to the tax payer, with each getting an equal amount back. That way those who reduced carbon emissions would make out, as they would pay less carbon tax than they got back in refunds, and so would start seeing a financial benefit right away. Those who didn’t reduce carbon emissions would come up short in their refunds, which would prod them to become more efficient. The carbon tax would enable and encourage natural market forces to reward efficiency and innovation.

All this would spur new economic growth right away from the development and deployment of the new clean energy systems we will be wanting sooner or later anyway. And who knows what other wonderful new things might come from it. It would be like what the space race did for us in stimulating the development of computers, satellite navigation, wire-less communications, etc.

Lets Get On With it.

Fixing GW/CC will require big changes in how we think and operate. And because so much of what we do now is unsustainable anyway, things will change whether we like it or not. Our task is to try to steer the changes in a direction that we can live with.

Still you might think that expecting the USA to go full speed with the conversion to renewable energy and have it in place within 25 years is not likely to happen with all the obstacles in front of us. But once we start backing off on fossil fuel use, and begin to seriously deploy renewable energy, more people and financial interests will get involved when they see the value of changing how we do things. It would be a snowball effect, starting out small, but building up rapidly.

We have plenty to gain if we start right away making the changes needed, and nearly everything to lose if we do nothing and let GW/CC happen as expected. Right now we have a unique opportunity that may not come along again, … to use our collective skills, resources, and concentrated efforts to avoid a likely major world-wide disaster, rather than just let it happen to us. We can fix the problem if we want to bad enough. We need to rise above ourselves, and work for the greater good. We need to keep the environment livable for the future generations we are leaving this planet to, and for all the other creatures we share this planet with. Lets get on with it.

by JRB

updated 04/01/18

Is There a Coming Shortage of Transport Fuels Like Gasoline, Diesel, Jet Fuel?

I have read several articles about possible petroleum-based fuel shortages. One said in effect that as the easier-to-produce conventional petroleum is used up, it will take more and more fuel to produce new fuel from the unconventional petroleum that is left. In other words it takes some of the fuel produced from petroleum, like gasoline, diesel, and kerosene, to produce more gasoline, diesel, and kerosene. (Here “producing” fuel means the whole process, from exploration, drilling, pumping, transporting the crude oil, refining it, delivering the fuel to the end-users, fuel used to get workers to their jobs, to power the equipment, heat the refineries, make the steel for new pipelines, rail cars, and ships, etc.). And that eventually the fuel producers would need the entire unit of fuel they just produced to produce the next unit of fuel. That trend would result in no fuel left over to run our cars, or for farm equipment, trucks, trains, or for jet fuel.

The articles referred to the study: http://www.thehillsgroup.org/petrohgv2.pdf as the bases of what they said. But then there is this at: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0144141 which debunks the Hills report. So who knows if it is true or not.

However there are other reasons why petroleum fuels could get in short supply. We went thru the Arab Oil Embargo years ago which was caused by certain foreign oil producers trying to jack up prices. It resulted in long lines at gas stations, with some cars left sitting for several days waiting. We are not likely even now immune to something like that because the oil supply is global, the US government can’t directly control how much is produced, where it goes, or what it costs.

And there is always the threat of shutdown of key refineries due to labor strikes, accidents, explosions, terrorist activities, etc.

Another reason why petroleum fuels could get in short supply is a diminishing demand for them. Less driving, more efficient gasoline powered and hybrid vehicles, and more electric vehicles, mean less gasoline bought, therefor less reason for producers to produce. The trend will likely continue as there are many more hybrid and electric cars on the way, reports say over 140 new models by 2022. And now there are even electric semi-trucks, electric buses, and electric light delivery vans, all making more and more business sense.

Another factor helping to reduce demand is that people are finding electric cars are really nice to drive. I bought a low cost used one as a second car and prefer to drive it for local trips. And I suspect many more people will buy electric as their primary car now that the range is over 200 miles on some new models. And as the total cost of ownership drops below gas powered cars, it will make economic sense too.

Another reason for petroleum fuel shortages might be the need for an all-out assault on global warming, which nearly all the climate experts say is real and is going to make things bad for us. They say it is caused mainly by burning petroleum-based fuels, natural gas, and coal. We may have to stop using them.

So petroleum-based fuels will likely get scarce and/or extremely expensive, and if so we may expect some forced changes in how we live. We can ignore the issue for now and then suffer from the abrupt changes when they hit. Or we can seriously start making the transition to sustainable, renewable electric energy to power our transportation. Electricity from wind turbines, solar arrays, from ocean waves and tidal flows, bio-fuels from waste materials and crops, heat from geothermal, even new nuclear plants if the problems can be worked out, are there to be used. The transition and build-up of the infrastructure to support it will take a lot of work, but will create many new jobs. The sooner we start the better.

Read more at https://agw-cc.com/

 

Need a Cause To Get Behind?

Polls show that over 70% of Americans agree with over 97% of the climate experts that global warming and climate change (GW/CC) is starting to happen. And it will likely be devastating for all life on this planet in the not so distance future. But we are doing very little to combat it. Changes in how we operate and think are needed.

We may not like the idea of forced change, but it is going to happen whether we like it or not, due to GW/CC. All we can do is to try to steer those changes in a direction that we can live with.

Elections are coming up. We can start going that new direction by getting the attention of our governmental representatives and let them know we, the voters, are the real boss. At a minimum we need to make sure the self-serving GW/CC-denying politicians do not completely take over our government. As of 2015 the US Senate and House were both controlled by them. The President was all that stood between them and an undoing of the few environmental protections already in place. We need to elect pro-environment candidates to office, and/or get the incumbents to support GW/CC remedies.

It doesn’t matter so much which party we favor, the GW/CC issue is not a battle between political parties, it is a battle between the greedy fossil fuel interests who have “bought” political favor, and the rest of us. They want us to continue burning the CO2 producing fossil fuels that are causing the GW/CC problem, so they can get richer, even though they know it is ruining our environment.

Or, we could just let GW/CC happen and then try to live with the result. The Earth has already experienced environmental degradation from it. The oceans are already losing productivity due to CO2 caused acidity. People are already suffering and fighting due to drought and flooding from extreme weather, caused in part by GW/CC. Those kind of catastrophes are going to spread everywhere, and things will get tremendously worse for everybody, including us. Are we just going to sit back and let it happen without trying to stop it, just party-on until all hell breaks loose?

Please seriously consider what is being said here. We have plenty to gain if we start right away trying to fix the GW/CC problem, and nearly everything to lose if we do nothing. We can fix the problem if we want to bad enough. Lets get on with it.

Read more at https://agw-cc.com/

via Daily Prompt: Breakthrough

Why Should I Care, I’ll Be Long Gone?

By now you might be thinking: “Okay, maybe the scientists are right about global warming and climate change (GW/CC), and how bad it might get. But why should I worry about it, I’ll be long gone before it gets that bad?”.

Here are some thoughts that you might consider:

>Are we so selfish that trading a livable future for a few trivial pleasures right now seems okay?

>Cause the least damage possible to the future, it is just as important as now.

>We all have the right to live as comfortably as we can, but we shouldn’t do it at the expense of others.

>We know that people with different backgrounds have different outlooks on life, which dictates what they think is important to them. But the GW/CC issue will be a major part of everyone’s life, and we all will have to deal with it.

>We are the first generation to realize the damage and devastation that burning fossil fuels can cause. It will likely be by far the worst human caused tragedy ever. Yet many just ignore or deny it. Can we really be that callous?

>The GW/CC problem that our modern culture is primarily responsible for affects everybody world wide.

>If we just let GW/CC go, will we deserve the punishment it will render on us?

>Yes there are those who have too many immediate problems to worry much about GW/CC, but most of us could make the time and effort to do our part.

>The fossil fuel barons appear to have “bought” Congress. That is not the way democracy was to work.

>At a time when we desperately need honest and bold leadership to avert the worst of the GW/CC problem, what do we do but vote into Congress a pack of self-serving politicians.

>The past generations advanced the culture and technology they received, and left it for the next generation to enjoy and add to. Should we not do the same for future generations, rather than squandering it all as fast as we can?

>Today’s middle-agers will likely experience some of the first really bad effects of GW/CC, but their kids and grand-kids will probably bear the full brunt. Is that what we want for their future?

>Right now the younger generation knows they have a lot more at stake with GW/CC than the older generation now in power. Shouldn’t the geezers just get out of the way and let the “youngsters” get on with fixing it?

>The developed countries, like the USA, have caused most of the problem due to our high use of fossil fuels over the years, so we have the biggest obligation to fix the problem.

>The USA is by far one of the worst greenhouse gas offenders on a per-capita basis. The people of most other modern nations use just a fraction of what we do. How can we feel okay with that?

>The USA is a notable laggard in reducing per-capita green-house gas emissions, so the excuse that “if we slow it down other nations will just do it more” does not apply. Many other nations are already committed to reductions, and others will follow their lead, leaving us further behind.

>The recession over the last few years helped with greenhouse gas reductions slightly, but the economy is recovering and gasoline prices are way down. Now people are buying gas-guzzling SUVs and pickup trucks again. Don’t we get it yet?

>Pay a little in comfort now to fix GW/CC, or pay a whole lot more in misery later. Is that the smart thing to do?

>Cheap fossil fuels allowed us to advance and grow. But that can’t go on for ever. Wouldn’t it make sense to establish a new sustainable energy base and appropriate growth rates while we still can?

>We know there have been some really messed up people in the world who have done terribly evil things. Good people eventually dealt with them. But are there enough good people to stop what may be the worst evil ever, the self-destruction of civilization caused by GW/CC?

>There are all kinds of transient problems around the world, but this one will seriously affect everybody for thousands of years. It needs serious attention.

>We have met the enemy, and it is us. Are we really going to be our own worst enemy?

>We got ourselves in this fix, it is up to us to get ourselves out of it. No outside force is going to help.

>How can we, as intelligent beings, ignore the science put forth by the worlds best climate experts? We know deep inside who is most likely right about the GW/CC issue.

>GW/CC may destroy civilization. How can we just sit back and let all the technical advancements we have made and will make in the future be lost without trying our best to stop GW/CC?

>How can we let all the wonderful world of nature that we share this planet with, be lost due to our callousness and greed? Other creatures like to live too.

>Even the Bible says we are charged with taking care of the Earth. We are not doing a very good job of it though.

>Are we really basically just animals after all, watching out for our own immediate interests, and unable to use our so-called “gift of intelligence” to foresee and solve future problems?

>We as individuals are just a short segment in the continuum of human life on our Earth. Our main duty is to try to make things better, not just to exploit whatever we can so we can enjoy life to the max in the present.

>The deniers response to the ethical and moral issues of GW/CC is to just casually dismiss them by claiming that “GW/CC is not happening, so there is no problem”. But the “inconvenient truth” is that it is happening, and any conscientious, caring person would feel we have an obligation to try to fix it. Please give some honest consideration to what is being said here. We need to stop messing around and get on with fixing the problem while there is still time.

Read more at https://agw-cc.com/

09/25/16 By J. Rodney Booker

via Daily Prompt: Dilemma