79 posts • joined 29 May 2009
**Of course the confusion here may be worsened by the fact that we aren't "currently seeing" any climate change by the headline measure: there has been no global warming for perhaps 15 years.**
Oh dear, Lewis yet again betrays his profound ignorance of the issue. What he's trying to say is that there has been no surface air temperature warming for perhaps 15 years, completely neglecting the fact that only 2% of warming goes into the atmosphere with more than 90% going into the ocean.
Incidentally it's factually incorrect to say that there has been no surface air temperature warming for the last 15 years but it's a convenient fiction to maintain.
Re: IPCC blaming heretics again?
No heat since 1995? What planet are you on? The data simply does not agree with that statement:
If we get to the stage that we're sapping that amount of energy out of the wind then I'll be pretty happy, but in the meantime wind generation will have been lifted well out of the boundary layer and will be quite happily generating far more than its ground based cousins.
For a more balanced view
I'd recommend reading the Skeptical Science piece on this research for a bit of balance to LP's breathless 'reporting':
One thing to note is that this research has not yet been peer reviewed or published or even accepted by a journal yet and the results should be treated as preliminary (this is not mentioned in Page's article, surprise surprise). Also the SS article rightly flags the fact that the model returns completely different climate sensitivities depending on the years you include in the analysis (3.7 degrees for the period from to 1750 to 2000 and 1.9 degrees when looking to 2010) which sounds odd to say the least.
"something almost equally unusual"
Only Lewis Page could spin this story to suggest that the two ends of the earth are equally unusual.
Compare and contrast the two graphs:
One is about 2 standard deviations away from the mean and the other is more like 5 or 6.
Standfirst: "And winter’s not yet over"
Why hasn't a correction or clarification been published on this article? One of the authors of the research has commented above to point out the error in the story and yet nothing has appeared on the article itself.
Re: Nails in the coffin?
The earth is absorbing more CO2 (thankfully) and yet atmospheric CO2 continues its inexorable rise...
Re: Standby is most definitely significant...
In what way has he demonstrated that it's bad science or that the standby conclusion is incorrect? Lewis has pointed out some inconsistencies but that's hardly surprising in a 600 page report that deals with many millions of data points and consequentially a need to resort to software to pick through this data. But to suggest that this invalidates the standby findings is plainly incorrect but typical of his agenda-driven reportage.
Naturally the figures I gave were anecdotal but of course we have the real data in our hands, so let's take a look at the main report and compare it with my 'anecdata'. Sky box consumption varies between 15W and 20W over a 24 hr period so let's call standby 15W. The average router was 6.3W, LCD TVs are a couple of watts on average, which already brings us to over 20W and half way to the 47W figure.
I find it bizarre that there is such denial of this real data. Standby is an issue, however much people want to wish it away. Some of it is being dealt with (TVs are a prime example) but it will take quite a while for the impacts to filter through. Other product types have most definitely not been dealt with and legislation should be brought to bear on manufacturers who are foisting shoddy products that cost us a lot of money each year.
The same goes for in use consumption which is of course much bigger than standby consumption. But to suggest, as Lewis does, that we should ignore standby because other issues are bigger (and he does this all the time) is plainly nonsense. It's an easy, highly cost effective win and we'll need these simple and small wins every bit as much as the big wins.
Standby is most definitely significant...
...and something can be done about it. so it's very good that this report is highlighting it. Some of the responsibility falls on the person operating the equipment but most of it falls on the equipment manufacturers. I don't see what's outrageous about an organisation such as the energy saving trust promoting action on this matter.
And after consistent pressure at a European level via the Energy Using Product Directive the manufacturers of many product sectors have made great strides in reducing standby. Lewis notes that modern TVs have very low standby consumption which is absolutely correct but he needs to remember that not everyone has modern TVs. In fact the old ones are no doubt happily sitting in bedrooms or kitchens in standby ticking away.
47W or more of standby is very achievable. I just tested the kit in the corner of my living room (TV, Virgin box, cable modem and wifi router) and it came to 20W. And that's just three things, all of which can be switched off when not in use and by switching them off I'm getting a very welcome saving of about £15 per year on my electricity bill. I can easily see that a small family with multiple TVs, computers and assorted other devices could have standby consumption well in excess of 47W.
I find it strange that Lewis disses actual monitored data that takes our understanding of household electricity consumption much further on but holds up McKay's work as being correct when McKay was working with the much more limited data that existed back then leading him to underestimate the impact of standby. OK it's a small sample size but then I imagine monitoring every electricity using device in a house can't be cheap.
Yet again Lewis confirms my general rule of thumb that if he gets in a tizzy about something he doesn't like then it usually has merit, while if he promotes something as The Solution it usually doesn't.
Also this reduction is achieved through a really quite modest cut in meat consumption:
"To make a really significant difference, however, we will need to bring down the average global meat consumption from 16.6 per cent to 15 per cent of average daily calorie intake – about half that of the average western diet."
But Lewis makes it sound like the evil commie scientists want everyone to go vegan.
You do know that oxygen and nitrogen (comprising about 99% of the atmosphere) are not greenhouse gases and so do nothing to trap heat so this talking point is one of the lamest ever put out there?
Re: What's so damn bloody annoying
Oh sure we can increase GDP more efficiently but there are thermodynamic limits to the gains which can be made from efficiency (although we've barely made a start on that path). The example of your worker making wooden objects needs to buy tools, light his or her workspace, get the finished objects to market etc etc. Those will have non-zero energy inputs.
So the only conclusion that I can draw is that energy growth is inextricably linked to GDP growth (however you define it) and therefore indefinite GDP growth is impossible because we'll eventually cook ourselves with waste heat as Tom Murphy points out. That applies to fusion power as well by the way.
Re: What's so damn bloody annoying
Except that value added is surely associated with an energy input so physical limits do come into play.
Unless you're proposing that you can get growth without any energy input at all? I'd be interested to know how that is possible.
Re: Got a reference for this?
Interesting, ta. I believe the UK smart meter spec defines a 5s resolution and I imagine it's substantially harder to identify these kinds of things at these lower resolutions.
Got a reference for this?
"That might sound fanciful, but researchers have already demonstrated that the pattern of energy consumed by a decent flat-screen TV can be used to work out what programme is being watched..."
This is the second time this has been suggested here in the last week or so but I'm sceptical about the ability to do this via smart meters which give an overall power consumption for a house every five seconds.
I can see you could probably do it in a lab with sensitive power meters but at a resolution of 5 seconds and with all the other noise you get from other devices...?
Re: How the hell do they work that out?
Yeah I reckon that's tosh as well. I reckon you could make a reasonable guess when someone turned a TV on that it is a TV from the change in electricity consumption and time of use, but not what make or model it is with any degree of certainty. It's hardly sensitive data anyway so it's irrelevant. The other bits about occupancy are much more significant.
Re: "What is the cost of keeping this plant operating under capacity?"
Well it doesn't actually tell us anything about the costs of undercapacity... and the costs of having 15 plants which are almost never operating? Who is going to finance that?
Emisisons & Cost
Ah another 'Analysis' from Lewis. Some crude back of the envelope calculations:
Greenhouse gas emissions from desalination are by no means trivial. Assuming that the 7kWh per tonne figure is correct then this equates to greenhouse gas emissions of 3.4kgCO2 per tonne (based on 0.48644kgCO2e/kWh). Current ghg intensity of water supply in the UK is 0.34kgCO2e per tonne so we're talking about supplying water with 10 times the GHG emissions as is done currently.
http://archive.defra.gov.uk/environment/business/reporting/pdf/110819-guidelines-ghg-conversion-factors.pdf for the factors
And people who hate on renewables (i.e. The Register) are always telling us how having backup plant is wasteful and expensive. But here Lewis is proposing constructing a load of desalination plants for the occasional drought. What is the cost of keeping this plant operating under capacity?
They're also telling us how renewables are putting intolerable burdens on our energy bills but here Lewis is suggesting adding £22 of OPEX (being kind and ignoring the suggestions in comments above that this is an underestimate) and £25 of CAPEX (assuming it's paid off over 20 years and I can't be bothered to calculate the NPV) per *person*.
That's an increase in water bills of over £100 per household per year which represents an increase of nearly 30% in the average water and sewage bill (£350). But that's the cost of water AND sewage so the cost of the water component of your bill would likely increase by well over 50%.
What a great suggestion this is!
Re: Spot the difference:
Indeed the researchers have released the following statement
<<"It is unfortunate that my research, "An ikaite record of late Holocene climate at the Antarctic Peninsula," recently published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, has been misrepresented by a number of media outlets.
Several of these media articles assert that our study claims the entire Earth heated up during medieval times without human CO2 emissions. We clearly state in our paper that we studied one site at the Antarctic Peninsula. The results should not be extrapolated to make assumptions about climate conditions across the entire globe. Other statements, such as the study "throws doubt on orthodoxies around global warming," completely misrepresent our conclusions. Our study does not question the well-established anthropogenic warming trend.">>
Spot the difference:
Scientist says: “We showed that the Northern European climate events influenced climate conditions in Antarctica,”
Lewis says: "Medieval warming WAS global – new science contradicts IPCC"
Just to put that amazing 500% well count increase in context...
Let's take a look at US oil production trends since 1860:
link to the analysis?
Big numbers. What does it work out as per kWh?
Taking the worst case additional costs as £286m + £945m gives you £1.231bn
(and I imagine that operating reserve requirement isn't the marginal cost so it's probably going to be less than this).
According to DUKES, in 2009 we consumed 322,417GWh in the UK.
I make that 0.38p/kWh or about 3% of current retail prices.
I hope you'll understand if I don't worry too much about this.
Can't spot it in the report
In fact I can't reconstruct his calculations at all. The 'will need' link to wolfram alpha suggests that average European consumption is 46MWh per capita. IEA puts total primary energy supply at 1,816,247ktoe
which is 21,123TWh. There are about 850m people in Europe so I make that 25MWh per capita.
Ah I see...
the population figure I was using was for continental Europe rather than EU-27. 46MWh per capita does make sense. But that's including all the thermal plant that throws away half the primary energy as heat. Would be interesting to see how the numbers come out in the main report when electricity is produced with non-thermal sources.
2/3 of European Energy Consumption?
"All in all, it seems fair to say that human beings deserve to use, say, two-thirds as much energy as an average European of today does."
What's this based on? Is this number, say, plucked out of thin air?
"Targeting the pot industry appeals to environmentalists in a number of ways. It allows several new bureaucracies to sprout forth, and more importantly, it also plays to "the haunting fear" (in Mencken's description of Puritanism) that "someone, somewhere, may be happy"."
Excuse me? I think you're confusing environmentalists with the Christian right or something.
Looking at the FAQs on his website and scanning the report, I would also suggest that calling the author a "policy analyst with a Puritanical streak" is quite wide of the mark (but par for the course).
This research is just one more reason why the criminalisation of marijuana is utterly wrong. The fact that in 2006 a third of the US's *total* weed crop was grown indoors in California (you really should pay more attention to your source material), a climate so perfectly suited for outdoor growing, is staggering and predominantly down to criminalisation.
Therefore I would expect the vast majority of environmentalists to lean towards decriminilsation rather than increased control.
The nuclear spin machine cranks into action...
But no one, even people living in an area that's tectonically inactive, is going to want one in their neighbourhood now.
What an absurd comment
Highly amusing that drivel like that is being uprated. Truly lame.
If we continue on this trajectory...
of inexorable increases in greenhouse gas emissions, we know that the future is going to be a very dark world indeed. If we do nothing to change direction, that future is guaranteed. if we do something about it now we have a small chance of avoiding it.
Time of use best for plug ins
Plug in owners should be on time of use tariffs to push them towards off-peak. I wonder if California will introduce these if plug ins take off? Would make sense given their aims for high penetration renewables over the coming decade.
Cabs are ideally suited to being pure EVs
Daily mileage of a central London cab is unlikely to exceed 150 miles (9 hours is the maximum you can drive for in a day and average traffic speed in London is about 15mph if I remember right) which is an eminently achievable range. And it's a very stop start drive cycle - perfect for EVs.
Steady though Lewis! Bit early to call the current state of climate science wrong, but this is encouraging.
Lame Lame Lame
What a non-story and what a non-report (not surprising given where it comes from).
For example, it takes Global Action Plan to task for errr... having a view on climate change and taking money from Hackney Council to errr...hit the streets of one of the poorest wards in one of the poorest of London's boroughs, delivering advice and support for households living in fuel poverty during the coldest November in decades. Nice to see that the TPA view that as a waste of public money, what a delightful bunch they are..
I can't wait for the outcome of the charity commission investigation.
They have windows!
And you can open them! It's not that they're sealed boxes, instead the ventilation is precisely controlled so as to minimise heat loss. Ventilation is very important but is largely ignored, in the UK at least.
Waiting for solar PV costs to come down?
I don't get this bit. If the world were to suddenly stop investing in PV overnight and wait five or ten years, how would costs come down? These things don't just magically happen.
We needed to buy crystalline PV at dollars per watt in the early years so that companies could safely invest in the R&D to be churning out thin film at pennies per watt in later years. We're already below $1 per watt so I would say we're getting there.
"(literally) trillions" eh?
What a scientific statement!
Global GDP in 2008 was $60 trillion and it's going to be a very long time before a trillion is spent on climate action. Meanwhile, the world spends literally literally trillions (more than 2 of them) each year on oil.
I'd love to know what (if any) of the literature this guy has actually bothered to read. Judging by the language he uses I'd say he's mostly informed by blogs.
An article that oozes sneer
Yet another toweringly insightful environment piece on the register.
Sorry but that's simply not true...at the moment.
"So.... it's not rocket science that running exisiting stuff till it dies produces less carbon than building a new one... but the message will never pass go.."
Embodied energy and embodied carbon of virtually every energy using product comprises a relatively small chunk of life cycle emissions. In use emissions are far greater. I say virtually every product because there are a few outliers that are used so infrequently that this is not the case (power drills for example).
Replacing current, inefficient energy using products with substantially more efficient ones does lead to big life cycle benefits. Once we've driven in use energy down to a minimum then longevity of the product becomes essential.
The Register's environment & energy coverage...
is absurdly biased and negative.
It essentially consists of two writers with very limited knowledge about the subjects they're covering. One disses any clean tech solution that he doesn't like, the other disses the IPCC and climate science and attempts to force his personal agenda on the reader, often without the option of a public response.
Not one story is in any way positive or contains anything approaching actual journalism.
It would be amusing if it wasn't so pathetic.
Yeah I know but it's the closest thing out there...
I mentioned range extenders but they're mostly (all?) petrol and I suspect are likely to remain that way for a while yet. I believe that petrol engines operate better at constant speeds than diesels - can't remember why though.
I seem to remember people looking at turbine extenders which would burn diesel and the guy who developed the segway was looking at stirling engine extenders which would run on just about anything. HCCI is also an option.
Mostly it hasn't been done because it's expensive - both electric and diesel drivetrains cost a fair bit. Peugeot have announced a new through the road diesel hybrid:
I believe range extender development is mostly focusing on petrol units, at a guess because they'll be lighter?
Good to see this
The 'battery as environmental baddy' meme is already quite entrenched so it's good to see this work corroborating existing life cycle assessments.
But as ever Lewis is spinning like crazy in order to push his belief that EVs aren't a good solution to decarbonising personal transport and reducing oil dependency.
A significant weakness in the study, as far as I can make out, is that they've assumed constant carbon emissions from grid electricity (they've gone with the European average which is a bit lower than the UK's grid factor).
But in reality, our electricity supplies are going to steadily decarbonise over the coming decades so while the diesel ICEV has the same emissions for its entire 14 year lifetime, the BEV emissions will steadily decrease so overall BEV lifecycle emissions will be lower even than the best diesels on the market.
Standard recharging will be plenty...
...for the vast majority of EV use. Using a full recharge of the Tesla Roadster battery (56kWh) as your example was a little disingenous (no surprise there though).
A 13A socket will deliver 3kW. Let's say charging efficeincy is 90% and you recharge for 6 hours from midnight until 6am in order to reduce the impact on the grid. That gives you 16kWh, enough to take you 100km @ 150Wh/km.
That'll easily cover most commuting needs in both directins but you could always top up at work, again with a standard socket (although paying much more for peak rate electricity). If you drive much more than that you can get a plug in hybrid or a high efficiency diesel.
As for biomethane, we're only going to see it in captive fleets. But there's no harm in demonstrating the technology in a context that everyone understands, i.e. a car. Much better to use the biogas in heat applicatins though as they have much hgher efficiencies than vehicle applications.
Might just get in the way of your grand energy plans.
How on earth can you in all seriousness call it unfounded speculation? By all means disagree with me but you are now calling the whole of climate science (on which I base my viewpoint) unfounded speculation? Truly extraordinary.
You and Lawson are the ones speculating rampantly, indeed betting the house on adaptation being cheaper in the future than a combination of mitigation now coupled with a lower requirement for adaptation in the future (becuase we're already committed to a substantial amount of disruption).
It's also worth pointing out that virtually every serious economist working in this field views mitigation and adaptation as much, much cheaper than your solution of BAU plus adaptation.
And no Andrew, I'm not aiming to create as many obstacles to the developing world's economic development as I can. I get very tired of you and other commentators of a certain ilk spouting the tired, bullshit line that environmentalists want to keep the developing world in poverty.
It's the developed world that should be making quick cuts in carbon emissions in the first instance and then sharing the technology to enable low carbon development with the rest of the world. But then on the subject of developed world carbon mitigation you come up with chestnuts like "mitigation entails a world of pain - with jobs lost, higher energy costs and a lower standard of living".
The key mitigation solution is energy efficiency and, while a switch to low carbon energy might mean higher unit costs, if you're consuming half the quantity of energy then it means *lower* overall energy costs.
A transition to low carbon energy also entails massive job growth due to the total overhaul of our energy infrastructure that will be required and I have no idea how you can equate energy efficiency and low carbon energy with a lower standard of living because it makes no sense whatsoever.
Do you really think that reliance on fossil fuels is good for the developed world economy? Each year UK homes spend about £35 billion on heat and power and a further £35 billion is spent fueling our cars. That's really good for the balance of payments!
No proof, ample evidence
I was merely pointing out that the rhetoric employed by 'sceptics' has evolved over time as each argument has conclusively been demonstrated to be false. It's really quite sad and this latest tactic is particularly insidious.
I'm sorry to say that it's very unlikely that we will ever have proof, but there is ample evidence to support the notion that man's activity is the primary driver of observed warming and there is ample evidence to support the notion that a policy of deep cuts in carbon emissions will give us a chance of avoiding dangerous climate change. At the very least it will give us a bit of breathing space to adapt. And there is ample evidence to support the notion that the trajectory that the likes of Lawson and Orlowski would have us tread will make life very very difficult for a large swathe of humanity in the future.
I'm unsure what you mean by your last paragraph though - there'll still be plenty of carbon around for plants to photosynthesise if that's what you're worried about
And so it happens...
The 'sceptic' arguments morph into the next phase.
First it was "it's not warming", then "ok it is warming but it's not man", now it's moved on to "ok it is warming and it is man but let's not bother trying to do anything about it".
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