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What should be done... about climate change

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3 hours ago, Kalbear said:

If you eliminated all fossil fuel burning right this instant civilization would be irrevocably and catastrophically changed, in massive ways.

If you eliminated all meat consumption you'd seriously hurt certain economic sectors and cause a recession. 

One of these things is doable within a decade. The other isn't realistically doable for 20 years or more.

It's doable in the sense that it is technically easier, but barring a divine pronouncement on the matter, there's no way everyone will give up meat and there's no appetite for a ban among governments. What you could do (and I think several corporations are trying to do it) is push people towards the plant-based meat substitutes. I've eaten at several restaurants that offer them and they're generally OK. However, some people won't eat them on principle and I suspect that there'll be people eating meat long after we've reduced fossil fuel usage to the point where it is irrelevant.

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4 hours ago, Altherion said:

It's doable in the sense that it is technically easier, but barring a divine pronouncement on the matter, there's no way everyone will give up meat and there's no appetite for a ban among governments.

Banning meat seems like a politically complicated proposition, but we could levy a tax on products according to their carbon footprint and pass harsher animal welfare regulations. This would make meat more expensive and presumably consumption would drop (as well as having other positive externalities like a more humane treatment of animals and revenue which can be used to plant trees, research green tech or what-have-you).

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Energy storage is a crucial enabler of the shift away from fossil fuels. Tesla are now bringing out mass battery systems for utility level energy storage. They want to produce terrawatts of storage capacity a year. With enough storage capacity renewable energy becomes as stable and reliable as fossil burning powerplants.

Elon Musk has predicted that all transport other than orbital rocket launches will eventually become electrically powered. That includes cars, trucks, ships and planes. And Tesla’s goal is to accelerate the advent of that sustainable energy future.

That is the technology we should be pushing. A future to be excited about. Not convincing people to give up steak, stop travelling and ride bicycles to work.

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1 hour ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Energy storage is a crucial enabler of the shift away from fossil fuels. Tesla are now bringing out mass battery systems for utility level energy storage. They want to produce terrawatts of storage capacity a year. With enough storage capacity renewable energy becomes as stable and reliable as fossil burning powerplants.

Elon Musk has predicted that all transport other than orbital rocket launches will eventually become electrically powered. That includes cars, trucks, ships and planes. And Tesla’s goal is to accelerate the advent of that sustainable energy future.

That is the technology we should be pushing. A future to be excited about. Not convincing people to give up steak, stop travelling and ride bicycles to work.

Sure! How are you going to push that? What can you personally do to make sure that planes are electric, that shipping is electric, that fossil fuel power generation is done?

Because you can stop eating steak right now. 

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23 hours ago, The Anti-Targ said:

Only if you're burning fossil fuels to power the ship. Which, sure all passenger ships are doing so now, but there is possibly a shorter timescale to getting fossil fuels out of shipping than out of air travel. I don't know if we'll ever get nuclear powered passenger vessels, but a combination of batteries and on-board generation to get vessels from port to port doesn't seem like too hard of a nut to crack.

From a country that produces food to feed 30 million people but only has a population of 5 million people I have to oppose "eat local" as a significant climate change strategy. And I also advocate against that for many of the small island nations in the South Pacific. With efficient production systems, and efficient and low-emitting transport solutions it's not always the case that locally produced food has a lower carbon footprint than food produced further afield, including half-way around the world. "Food miles" has been well and truly debunked as far too blunt an instrument to account for the environmental impact of one's diet. And I'm not just saying that applies to the foods we export. There are foods we import that cannot be as environmentally efficiently produced in NZ as other countries, so I would not advocate for local production of those foods when importing makes better environmental sense.

Hasn't solar power been powering ships since the time of Odysseus? All we need to do is get over the idea we need speed at all cost..

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12 monkeys virus.

Other than that, China keeps on China-ing, making our smog reductions irrelevant or near enough to it.   

It's one of those sad days when you realize all the higher lifeforms are on the way out.  We're going to hunt the animal kingdom down to nothing whether we're pro NRA or against.  Those voicing the most love for the planet are still part of the devil species, joined to the problem.   We're like Elizabeth Warren railing against white people and hoping nobody notices she's white, or else trying real hard to believe in her alternate ancestry.  But she's just fooling herself about that, and we're only fooling ourselves about the planet.  The things we bicker about don't change the course we're on, won't stop that next poacher from accepting the mission to take tigers to extinction.   We aren't in control of this process because it's us.  It's in us.   We won't fundamentally go against our nature just to save Nature. 

 I think they already knew this and were mourning it back in the day when the Garden of Eden story was fresh off the presses.  They saw that we had left the animal kingdom behind and had become something with much more potential, and they saw how evil that potential was becoming, how we were abusing our sentience to disastrous and horrible effect, and how it was better when we were still animals proper, because Nature keeps itself in balance and we've left balance behind. 

Back to the 12 monkeys virus refrain.  We can't stop our destruction, but the waning of antibacterial medicines might.  And is the timing of that coincidence?   Or part of the ecosphere's defense mechanism kicking in to counter our infestation.  

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6 hours ago, Kalbear said:

Sure! How are you going to push that? What can you personally do to make sure that planes are electric, that shipping is electric, that fossil fuel power generation is done? 

Because you can stop eating steak right now.

You could buy an electric car. However, even if you do that and refrain from eating meat and don't take any vacations that you cannot bike to and otherwise limit yourself, the impact of all of that will be... utterly negligible. You need something that you can convince other people to do. This works reasonably well with things that are cool (e.g. electric cars), moderately with things that are mostly neutral (e.g. LED lights) and pretty poorly with things that require people to deprive themselves of things they like. It might work better if the public faces preaching the need to counter climate change would, for example, refrain from the usage of private jets and yachts, but that is not the world we live in.

3 hours ago, The Mother of The Others said:

Other than that, China keeps on China-ing, making our smog reductions irrelevant or near enough to it.   

Actually, China appears to be making progress towards reducing their emissions.

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Posted (edited)

So I don’t have access to the statistics, but what would be the result if 90% of power plants are renewable or nuclear, supported by enough large scale battery storage to make that completely reliable, and 90% of cars, trains, trucks, ships and planes are electrically powered?

But we keep the rest of our lifestyle exactly as it is (i.e, eating steak, going on overseas holidays, and driving cars to work). Only all of those activities are now based on sustainable energy technology. Would the climate change issue be solved?

EDIT

Random googling gave me 2013 stats which showed that Energy represented 72% of Greenhouse gas emissions at the time. 

 

Edited by Free Northman Reborn

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1 hour ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

So I don’t have access to the statistics, but what would be the result if 90% of power plants are renewable or nuclear, supported by enough large scale battery storage to make that completely reliable, and 90% of cars, trains, trucks, ships and planes are electrically powered?

But we keep the rest of our lifestyle exactly as it is (i.e, eating steak, going on overseas holidays, and driving cars to work). Only all of those activities are now based on sustainable energy technology. Would the climate change issue be solved?

You'd be pretty close. Here's the EPA greenhouse gas source page for 2017. It's split thus:

Transportation: 29%

Electricity: 28%

Industry: 22%

Commercial & Residential: 12%

Agriculture: 9%

The first four are covered by your 90% reduction with the caveat that Industry may do some things which produce greenhouse gases for purposes other than heating or electricity generation. Still, based on the description on the Industry tab, the gas produced due to such chemical reactions doesn't appear to be significant enough to detail so I'll ignore it. The result is that we drop to 2.9% + 2.8% + 2.2% + 1.2% + 9% = 18.1% of the 2017 total. However, note that the managed forests and such offset 11.5% of the total emissions in 2017 so if these stay where they are, the total under your scenario would be well under 10% of 2017 emissions.

We'd like that number to be negative and this doesn't quite get us there, but it's pretty close. Unfortunately, eliminating 90% of the energy-related emissions is hard.

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2 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

So I don’t have access to the statistics, but what would be the result if 90% of power plants are renewable or nuclear, supported by enough large scale battery storage to make that completely reliable, and 90% of cars, trains, trucks, ships and planes are electrically powered?

But we keep the rest of our lifestyle exactly as it is (i.e, eating steak, going on overseas holidays, and driving cars to work). Only all of those activities are now based on sustainable energy technology. Would the climate change issue be solved?

EDIT

Random googling gave me 2013 stats which showed that Energy represented 72% of Greenhouse gas emissions at the time. 

 

Driving cars, as a GHG emitting activity, is self-limiting from a pure market forces perspective now that companies are getting into electric vehicles in a big way. In not too much time the most cost effective cars both in terms of purchase price and running costs will be electric vehicles. So we're largely headed towards a 90% reduction in private vehicle emissions without having to inconvenience personal lifestyles in any substantial way. 

42 minutes ago, Altherion said:

You'd be pretty close. Here's the EPA greenhouse gas source page for 2017. It's split thus:

Transportation: 29%

Electricity: 28%

Industry: 22%

Commercial & Residential: 12%

Agriculture: 9%

The first four are covered by your 90% reduction with the caveat that Industry may do some things which produce greenhouse gases for purposes other than heating or electricity generation. Still, based on the description on the Industry tab, the gas produced due to such chemical reactions doesn't appear to be significant enough to detail so I'll ignore it. The result is that we drop to 2.9% + 2.8% + 2.2% + 1.2% + 9% = 18.1% of the 2017 total. However, note that the managed forests and such offset 11.5% of the total emissions in 2017 so if these stay where they are, the total under your scenario would be well under 10% of 2017 emissions.

We'd like that number to be negative and this doesn't quite get us there, but it's pretty close. Unfortunately, eliminating 90% of the energy-related emissions is hard.

I guess, if we want to reverse climate change. But the biggest problem with climate change is the rate of change not change per se. So if we slow the rate of change substantially then the problem has been solved. If sea level rises by 20 metres over the next 5000 years we will simply adapt by gradual change without any major disasters to humans or the biosphere in general. Sea level rising by 20 metres in 100 years we can't cope with. The world might even be able to cope with a 20 metre rise over 500 years. Same with global temperature. 4DegC over 500 years is considerably less catastrophic in effect than 4DegC over 100 years, and less catastrophic still if the rise is over 1000 years or 5000 years.

Sea level becomes a bit problematic in an absolute sense if we're heading towards Mt Everest base camp becoming beach front property, but we're not looking at that just yet.

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12 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

So I don’t have access to the statistics, but what would be the result if 90% of power plants are renewable or nuclear, supported by enough large scale battery storage to make that completely reliable, and 90% of cars, trains, trucks, ships and planes are electrically powered?

11 hours ago, Altherion said:

Transportation: 29%

Electricity: 28%

Industry: 22%

Commercial & Residential: 12%

Agriculture: 9%

This is an extremely optimistic take.  Large scale adoption of electric powered ships and planes is several decades away even with a herculean effort towards technological change and adoption.  Likewise emissions from industrial processes includes a lot more than just heating/cooling/electricity.  Fertilizer and cement production in particular are very GHG heavy and cannot be electrified.  There are some methods of potentially reducing emissions from industrial processes, but they're difficult and vary industry by industry in terms of the degree to which emissions can be cut. 

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12 monkeys virus.

am not seeing the need for an eliminationist's political dream that conceives the problem to be solved as overpopulation.  if the humanitarian and legal problems with this 'solution' are insufficient to exclude it ab initio, its equivalence to doing nothing at all should warrant a peremptory dismissal. that is, this 'cure' coincides without remainder with failing to abate the defect, as market discipline will in fact cause the desired depopulation--just not in accordance with the xenophobic parameters proposed, supra.

 

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16 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

So I don’t have access to the statistics, but what would be the result if 90% of power plants are renewable or nuclear, supported by enough large scale battery storage to make that completely reliable, and 90% of cars, trains, trucks, ships and planes are electrically powered?

But we keep the rest of our lifestyle exactly as it is (i.e, eating steak, going on overseas holidays, and driving cars to work). Only all of those activities are now based on sustainable energy technology. Would the climate change issue be solved?

EDIT

Random googling gave me 2013 stats which showed that Energy represented 72% of Greenhouse gas emissions at the time. 

 

One of the problems is that if we went carbon neutral right now, the excess carbon in the atmosphere would still take ~100 years to dissipate and return to mid-20th Century levels, during which time the heating would continue. So whilst it would be a great move, it's not enough. We need to accelerate the removal of the excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, from massive tree growth and possibly a technological solution (although there seem to be doubts on whether atmospheric CO2 capture can be achieved technologically and at scale at much less a timescale than it dissipating of its own accord).

The ship sailed on averting large-scale climate change somewhere around the early to mid-1990s, when people completely ignored the issue. Now we're into damage mitigation and hoping people in the mid-to-late 22nd (or early 23rd, for that matter) Century can enjoy a somewhat less fucked up world than what we are heading into now.

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6 hours ago, Maithanet said:

This is an extremely optimistic take.  Large scale adoption of electric powered ships and planes is several decades away even with a herculean effort towards technological change and adoption.  Likewise emissions from industrial processes includes a lot more than just heating/cooling/electricity.  Fertilizer and cement production in particular are very GHG heavy and cannot be electrified.  There are some methods of potentially reducing emissions from industrial processes, but they're difficult and vary industry by industry in terms of the degree to which emissions can be cut. 

As I pointed out, the supply situation for fossil fuels is severe enough to where the transformation to alternative (green) energy will HAVE to take place within the next 2-3 decades anyhow.  And that is with going fuel tilt on fracking, oil/tar sands, ignoring most environmental regulations, and kicking the energy efficiency thing into high gear.  Past that point, fossil fuels won't be gone, but they'll be a far smaller slice of the energy pie than at present.  

 

I'd recommend expanding, double tracking, and electrifying the entire US rail grid, combined with a vastly increased push towards electric vehicles.  Suburbia needs to be redesigned - it was deliberately laid out to be car, not people friendly.  Bio diesel from algae (or maybe sewage treatment plants) is worth looking into.  The freshwater situation, especially in California and the Midwest is alarming.  Between the floods and the droughts...maybe a full rebuild of the levee system with a bunch of new artificial lakes thrown in?

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20 minutes ago, ThinkerX said:

As I pointed out, the supply situation for fossil fuels is severe enough to where the transformation to alternative (green) energy will HAVE to take place within the next 2-3 decades anyhow.  And that is with going fuel tilt on fracking, oil/tar sands, ignoring most environmental regulations, and kicking the energy efficiency thing into high gear.  Past that point, fossil fuels won't be gone, but they'll be a far smaller slice of the energy pie than at present.  

And 3 decades is way too long at our current rate. 

 

20 minutes ago, ThinkerX said:

I'd recommend expanding, double tracking, and electrifying the entire US rail grid, combined with a vastly increased push towards electric vehicles.  Suburbia needs to be redesigned - it was deliberately laid out to be car, not people friendly.  Bio diesel from algae (or maybe sewage treatment plants) is worth looking into.  The freshwater situation, especially in California and the Midwest is alarming.  Between the floods and the droughts...maybe a full rebuild of the levee system with a bunch of new artificial lakes thrown in?

Great. So you and @Free Northman Reborn are advocating an entire change to all infrastructure, electrical production and distribution, housing, traffic, shipping, fuel production and whatnot. 

BUT GOD FORBID PEOPLE EAT LESS STEAK OMG

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Just now, Kalbear said:

And 3 decades is way too long at our current rate. 

 

Great. So you and @Free Northman Reborn are advocating an entire change to all infrastructure, electrical production and distribution, housing, traffic, shipping, fuel production and whatnot. 

BUT GOD FORBID PEOPLE EAT LESS STEAK OMG

"That's steakilism"

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I mean yes, changing the entire infrastructure and the way we even think about location is hugely important, especially in the sprawl of the US. But this can't happen in even the next decade without massive social upheaval and cost and change. It's crucial and important, but the notion that the oil and car companies are just going to convert to a more efficient and cheaper system overnight because it's cheaper is belied by all of human history. That's just not how economics work. Saudi's oil company made something like 100bn in profit last year. You think that things being more efficent matters fuck all to a company that gets that kind of money each year? 

No, they're going to suck on that tit until it runs extra, extra dry and then beg for help when it dries out, just like the banks did in 2008. And until that point they're going to drill as much as possible and promote as much use of natural gas and cars and trucks as possible. 

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Weird, it's almost like the current administration is loojing at opening up all sorts of public lands to fracking and more.  Huh 

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The transition to renewable energy is inevitable. But it will take maybe 30-50 years. Musk has said that Tesla’s aim is simply to cut maybe a decade or two off that timeline. That is a pragmatic goal. 

First get electric cars to be appealing. Then as more people buy them, use the resultant economies of scale to gradually reduce the cost so that the mass market can afford them. That allows market share to grow even more. Then - in best case 10 years from now - electric vehicles might be the majority of new car sales. That would still require maybe 20 years beyond that point for the entire worldwide ICE fleet to be replaced.

Meanwhile expand and improve the production of large scale battery technology, as Tesla is doing now. Musk says 100 Gigafactories could produce enough battery storage to turn the worldwide power network renewable. So far they have 1 Gigafactory - but looking to scale from 28 Gigawatt hours of battery storage per year to 2 Terrawats.

As you can see, it will be a gradual process. You folks hoping for a solution in a shorter period of time are delusional. It will have to be a market driven transition, over decades. And if it takes another 100 years to remove the excess carbon from the system, well, then that is reality.

But the above is the only realistic approach. And even that requires visionary companies like Tesla to make it happen, against some powerful vested interests.

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