back to article Atmospheric CO2 set to soar - OECD

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has issued a forecast saying that - unless something big changes - the level of CO2 in the Earth's atmosphere is set to rise significantly as the planet's population swells and its poorer nations start to develop their economies and use more energy. In a new document …

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  1. Ian Stephenson Silver badge
    Mushroom

    The solution is still nuclear.

    Thorium by preference.

    If renewables (wind/PV) are the answer it's a bloody stupid question.

    1. Andy Fletcher

      Re: The solution is still nuclear.

      Didn't Brain Cox reckon in his last program that global investment in fusion technology amounted to a (paltry) $1billion.

      Somehow, billions spent on climate research and horseshit like windpower to combat other billions spent on (currently) economically viable fossil fuel energy production is the way we've decided to go. Who the hell is in charge here. Feels like no-one.

    2. PyLETS
      Stop

      The solution isn't nuclear alone.

      Thorium is another promise which hasn't delivered yet. Doesn't mean it won't or we shouldn't research it in the hope it will, but we can't put all our eggs in the basket tempted by another as yet undelivered promise - similar scenario with wave power. If the objective is genuinely to reduce C02 to the greatest extent possible, it seems pretty daft to imagine nuclear and renewables to be in competition here as both need development, in the sense neither has the optimal capacity, cost profile, reliability or output characteristics on their own to be expanded to meet the entire requirement and both need careful planning and engineering to obtain safer and more reliable power.

      Both nuclear and renewables will perform much better as part of a mixed low carbon supply system in the short to medium term and we are all dead in the longer term. Nuclear becomes more expensive per GwH if expanded too rapidly as this requires more host communities to risk being the next Fukushima. Less of a problem with existing nuclear host communities who need the jobs and who already understand the relatively low risks, but politically a very tall order elsewhere.

      Renewables will provide best cost effectiveness in the most optimal sites - once renewables expand to more than 30% of total energy requirements siting also gets more expensive and storage costs start to put total price/GwH delivered up.

      Also when the Japanese had to shut down their nuclear capacity, they were very glad they had other sources of electric supply. Much better to have your eggs in more than one basket.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The solution isn't nuclear alone.

        "Also when the Japanese had to shut down their nuclear capacity, they were very glad they had other sources of electric supply."

        Are you saying that Japan has no nuclear plants on line anymore? If that's not what you are saying, then what are you saying?

        1. PyLETS
          Mushroom

          Re: The solution isn't nuclear alone.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_power_in_Japan : "Japan's efforts to regain public support for restarting the reactors has made little headway, with 49 out of the nation's 54 reactors offline as of January 2012" . Perhaps I should moderate my assertion to "the Japanese had to shut down 90% of their nuclear capacity".

          Please try to imagine where they would have been if they had become as reliant upon nuclear as the French are.

          1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
            Thumb Down

            Re: Re: The solution isn't nuclear alone.

            "....if they had become as reliant upon nuclear as the French are." By reliant, do you mean "have an excess of energy, allowing them to sell that excess to the UK, and also have a viable nuke industry that can make money abroad building nuke power plants, as they will do in the UK", then that sounds quite good to me.

            The Japanese problem is that they are in an area of high and severe earthquake activity, whereas the UK is not. Even then, the Fukishima plant still exceeded its design brief in resisting the tsunamii. Standard, Greenpecker, anti-nuke boilerplate whining on about Fukishima is simply not applicable to the UK.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: The solution isn't nuclear alone.

              @Matt...

              Reliant and Excess are not mutually exclusive. If France had to shut down all their reactors they would have very little power and not be able to export any, by definition that's reliant.

              1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                FAIL

                Re: The solution isn't nuclear alone.

                "....If France had to shut down all their reactors...." Which is a pretty pointless statement - what would happen to make the Fwench shut them all down, short of Angela "green-for-votes" Merkel getting elected Prez of some new European Federal state? Please supply a realistic event that would cause such a requirement to shutdown. I anticipate a major amount of fail in your efforts.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @PyLETS

            Thank you for the clarification; I had no idea that Japan had taken nearly all their nuclear plants off-line.

            1. P. Lee Silver badge
              Trollface

              Re: @PyLETS

              Bah. LPG has gone up 50% in Oz in the last few months.

              I suppose if Europe implodes and takes down the US, manufacturing might take a dive and things will even out.

      2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: The solution isn't nuclear alone.

        "Also when the Japanese had to shut down their nuclear capacity, they were very glad they had other sources of electric supply. Much better to have your eggs in more than one basket."

        If they hadn't any alternatives, they might not have taken nearly all their reactors offline. Most of them aren't actually damaged and the risk of earthquakes or tsumamis hasn't actually changed. It is local politics that is keeping them offline, just as it is politics rather than evidence that keeps the exclusion zone around Fukishima so large.

        1. Tom 13

          @Ken Hagan: Agreed, but

          it didn't help the politics any that the Fukishima management misled the Japanese public about the actual risks during the accident because they were concerned the Japanese would react like Americans.

          Yes, I'm saying that from the 'Merkin side of the pond.

        2. PyLETS
          Mushroom

          @Ken Hagan

          "It is local politics that is keeping them offline, just as it is politics rather than evidence that keeps the exclusion zone around Fukishima so large."

          No, it's radioactive caesium contamination, combined with democratically accountable representatives making hard choices, advised by unelected public servants who know what the internationally accepted safe limits are and don't want to exceed these either for genuine concern over victims health, and/or due to concern about future litigation by anyone who goes back and gets cancer for whatever reason and sues for negligence based on provable violation of international safety standards.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiation_effects_from_Fukushima_Daiichi_nuclear_disaster states: 'As of February 2012, the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is still leaking radiation and areas surrounding it could remain uninhabitable for decades due to high radiation. It could take “more than 20 years before residents could safely return to areas with current radiation readings of 200 millisieverts (mSv) per year, and a decade for areas at 100 millisieverts per year” '

          50mSv /year is the maximum allowed for US nuclear workers: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orders_of_magnitude_%28radiation%29

          http://www.iaea.org/Publications/Factsheets/English/radlife.html#dose states: "On average, our radiation exposure due to all natural sources amounts to about 2.4 mSv a year" and this same article (tag harmful) states: "With all the knowledge so far collected on effects of radiation, there is still no definite conclusion as to whether exposure due to natural background carries a health risk, even though it has been demonstrated for exposure at a level a few times higher."

      3. h4rm0ny

        Re: The solution isn't nuclear alone.

        I get pretty tired of people trying to win arguments or sound wise by saying things like the truth is, of course, somewhere in the middle. Wouldn't want to see you doing maths. If one source of power is better than the other in 98% of circumstances, then why does it make sense to do a widescale deployment of both? You make an argument of "all your eggs in one basket" using Japan as an example. How ridiculous is that? Is it your contention that had a couple of the powerstations struck by the twin earthquakes plus tsunami actually been wind-farms, that things would be different there? The correct application of the "eggs in one basket" principle as applied to Japan would not be different technologies, but different geographic locations.

    3. Robinson
      Paris Hilton

      Re: The solution is still nuclear.

      Are Thorium reactors viable at present? Perhaps in the future...

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. JohnG Silver badge

        Re: The solution is still nuclear.

        "Are Thorium reactors viable at present? Perhaps in the future..."

        Have a look at the Molten-Salt Reactor Experiment at Oak Ridge.

        One of the "problems" with Thorium is that it doesn't provide materials useful for the manufacture of nuclear weapons, which may partially explain why this type of reactor has not been pursued.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. RoboJ1M
      Thumb Down

      Re: The solution is still nuclear.

      *sigh*, no, we can't just bomb them. It gets you such *terrible* press... ¬.¬

    5. itzman
      Mushroom

      Re: The solution is still nuclear.

      yep. nuke the peasants and make huge fuel savings. ;-)

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    carbon emissions

    I do wish we could be more precise and not use "carbon" when we mean "carbon dioxide". I know saying "carbon" makes you send all trendy and eco friendly but they are different things.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: carbon emissions

      Er, when I said "send" I meant "seem". D'oh! Hoist, petard, coat, I'm getting it now. :-)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 'send'

        ('seem' + 'sound') / 2 = 'send'?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 'send'

          no, ('seem' + 'sound') / 2 = seems sound, but only half

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: carbon emissions

      I believe when official sources say "carbon" it has factored in methane etc as well and isn't just talking about carbon dioxide. It is irritating, but a lot quicker than saying everything long hand.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: carbon emissions

        I doubt that. The only thing they will have factored in is that saying carbon will appeal to the greatest number of trendy eco-greens whereas carbon dioxide sounds a bit chemical and complicated. Besides, a cynic might think that if CO2 ends up not being proved to be the cause of the problem then other carbon based things can be used instead while still claiming you were right all along.

      2. James Micallef Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: carbon emissions

        The term "carbon" in this regard means emissions of greenhouse gases measured in carbon dioxide equivalent. For example if methane is 10 times more effective greenhouse gas, then 1 tonne of methane emissions is equivalent to 10 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Saying "carbon" is a lot easier than saying "carbon dioxide or equivalent". Maybe we should just stick to "greenhouse gases" as a generic term

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: carbon emissions

          Yes, it would be a shame to commit ourselves to something less vague. Someone might be able to prove we are right or wrong if we get too specific, and we need the wooliness to keep the alarm going.

    4. Dale Richards
      Go

      Re: carbon emissions

      Maybe "organic emissions" would be a more appropriate term, but that doesn't sound scary enough.

      1. Tom 13
        FAIL

        @Dale Richards

        If you need an explanation for the icon, you shouldn't be reading this site, or at the very least need a Chem 001 class. And I say that as someone who ranks very low on the chemistry expertise list, quite near the bottom in fact.

  3. Thought About IT
    Stop

    Preconceived agendas, etc.

    Lewis, from your headline ("Atmospheric CO2 set to SOAR from 0.0004 to 0.0007") and your concluding paragraphs, you couldn't make it clearer that you don't consider this to be a problem. In that case, please stop writing about it!

    1. multipharious

      Re: Preconceived agendas, etc.

      and you consider it a problem? I would say the title indicates what is on the tin.

      Take a 1 liter bottle and fill it with water. This will represent your "atmosphere." Would you now like to do the math about how much of that liter bottle the .0003% increase is? It might be easier to imagine and more practical to accomplish if you use a 100 liter tank, or perhaps a 1000 liter tank of water. Actually no. Why don't we do it 1:1? Let's avoid the ml conversion and take a million liter tank. As we are talking about an increase of 3 ppm this should make it easy for you. Now how much water in a 1,000,000 liter tank are we talking about?

      It's f%ck all. That's the answer.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Preconceived agendas, etc.

        @Multipharious

        3ppm is indeed very small, but 3ppm of Ammonia in my marine aquarium will kill everything.

        Small things can have large effects, those effects could be good or bad, but they can be large.

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: Re: Preconceived agendas, etc.

          Good thing that it's not Ammonia that the article is about then, eh? D'uh!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Preconceived agendas, etc.

            @Matt... I was illustrating the point that small amounts of something in an environment can have a large effect. It therefore follows that you can't automatically say that a small increase of a component of an atmosphere will only have a small effect.

          2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
            Unhappy

            Re: Preconceived agendas, etc.

            Good thing that it's not Ammonia that the article is about then, eh? D'uh!

            You're either pretty ignorant or naturally combative. I'm kind of leaning towards the latter.

            1. multipharious

              Re: Preconceived agendas, etc. @John

              small things yes, very small concentrations can be absolutely lethal, but we are talking about the heat retaining attributes of a small percentage of molecules...not the concentrations that are required to poison a fish.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Preconceived agendas, etc. @John

                @Multipharious

                Go and look up the greenhouse effect: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenhouse_effect.

                The synopsys is that 25%ish of the Greenhouse effect is caused by CO2. No greenhouse effect, no life on the planet, it's that simple. If you think that a just a few molecules which don't have any discernible effect, you are very, very wrong.

            2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
              Stop

              Re: Re: Preconceived agendas, etc.

              "....You're either pretty ignorant...." Nope, the example was just stupidly alarmist. Ammonia is a poison, and we're not fish in an aquarium. It's so stupid it would be like saying firing a .45 bullet in the head could kill you, so we should never use any metal of any form in larger concentrations than 10.7g in ANY situation where we might come into contact with metal. Good luck building cars, trains, planes, bridges or just even a belt buckle with that kind of scientific argument.

              ".....or naturally combative...." Age is just making me much less tolerant of idiotic, social trendiness, masquerading as a concern for the environment, especially when it uses bad and debunked science in an attempt to justify their "beliefs".

              1. Burb

                Re: Preconceived agendas, etc. (@Matt Bryant)

                I think you have missed the point. Multipharious's argument took as its starting point the relatively low concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. He deduced that *therefore* it could not have any effect. The ammonia example was merely a demonstration that once cannot *necessarily* draw the conclusion that low concentration implies no effect. No one is claiming that there is an exact analogy; it is merely a counterexample to demonstrate that the logic is flawed.

                BTW what exactly are you claiming is "debunked"? Are you, like Multipharious, claiming that the greenhouse effect does not exist? If so, why don't you get together with him and write a paper. You could be famous.

        2. Steve Crook

          Re: Preconceived agendas, etc.

          And that's the point. Physics says that a doubling of CO2 should give us a ~1c rise in temp. Further doubling will result in significantly lower rises in temperature. That's the settled science.

          After that we're into the realms of models and feedback effects caused by increased water vapour in the atmosphere. So your analogy may be initially attractive, but it's not really a good fit for the problem...

          1. Tom 13

            @Steve Crook: Warmmongers, not physics.

            No physicist worth his salary would make projections with as many unknowns as the Warmmongers do.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @Steve Crook: Warmmongers, not physics.

              @Tom, yes they would, many climate scientists are physicists. What you don't see if the error bars, they're usually not reported but qualify the data.

          2. PassiveSmoking
            Meh

            Re: Preconceived agendas, etc.

            And that's the point. Physics says that a doubling of CO2 should give us a ~1c rise in temp. Further doubling will result in significantly lower rises in temperature. That's the settled science.

            [citation needed]

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Preconceived agendas, etc.

              @Passive Smoking...

              Yes, but there are many, many other factors to take into account, water vapour and Methane for two.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          FAIL

          Re: Preconceived agendas, etc. AC 12@38

          "3ppm is indeed very small, but 3ppm of Ammonia in my marine aquarium will kill everything.

          Small things can have large effects, those effects could be good or bad, but they can be large."

          WTF has the deadly concentration of Ammonia or any other poison got to do with Carbon Dioxide and it's affects on the climate change?

          If I kill you by poisoning your breakfast with a tiny amount of Plutonium or I piss in the ocean and increasing sea level infinitesimally, you think these two things can be equated?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Preconceived agendas, etc. AC 12@38

            The second paragraph would answer your question. Read it.

        4. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: Preconceived agendas, etc.

          I think that to accurately mirror the proposed increase in CO2, you should be estimating what a doubling of the ammonia levels would do.

          As Paracelcus indicated, the 'poison is in the dose'. If there is a material which is dangerous to you, and yet you are surviving, it must only be present in very small quantities. In which case doubling, or , indeed, increasing by an order of magnitude, is likely to make little difference...

      2. Burb

        @multipharious

        "Take a 1 liter bottle and fill it with water. ... blah blah"

        So based on your argument we could get rid of all the CO2 from the atmosphere and it would have "f%ck all" effect.

        1. multipharious

          Re: @multipharious

          I see the scientist among us has arrived. Simple math too tough for you Burb?

          What is the composition of the Earth's atmosphere? Guessing you are not a diver, it is 78% Nitrogen, 21% Oxygen, and then mostly Argon. Somewhere in there we have one of the smaller components of our atmosphere at a whopping f%ck all percent, which then according to the fear mongerer's models doubles to OH MY F%CKING GOD. Yet it still only yearns to scratch the ass of 1% of our atmosphere. If this were a pie chart you could not even see the sliver. A single pixel line would be too thick. It could quadruple and still be so far from even qualifying for a rounding error, yet this gas and its miniscule increase is the culprit for the "global" changes in climate?

          Please. Pull the other one. I mean really.

          1. Burb
            FAIL

            Re: @multipharious

            "Simple math too tough for you Burb?"

            No. Simple logic is obviously far too tough for you though. Let me explain.

            Your argument is solely based on the proposition that because CO2 is such a small proportion of the atmosphere, it can't have any effect. Even if we initially leave aside the greenhouse effect, that is obviously a fallacy for two reasons that spring immediately to mind. First, the idea that just because something is a trace component necessarily means it doesn't have an effect can be countered by all sorts of examples. There was the poison in the fishtank example someone mentioned; there is doping of silicon to make semiconductors; there is the addition of relatively small amounts of carbon to iron to make steel. Second: CO2 in the atmosphere is an essential part of the carbon cycle which supports life on this planet. Going back to my original post: following your logic, because it is such an inconsequential trace component of the atmosphere, CO2 could be removed without effect. Anyone with half a brain can see that that is nonsense.

            But in any case, the greenhouse effect of CO2 is a well understood physical phenomenon that is accepted by pretty much anyone who isn't a crackpot. Even most 'climate skeptics' accept it. Their arguments tend to centre around how much the basic greenhouse effect of CO2 is amplified by other factors.

            Your underlying point is presumably that, if it starts out at such a minute proportion, doubling it or whatever won't have an effect. Since that relies on accepting your basic fallacy that the starting amount is inconsequential your argument falls apart.

            1. multipharious

              Re: @multipharious

              I won't reply to you incorrectly restating my "argument" because it is a drolly pedestrian debate tactic.

              Greenhouse effect? Did you actually just use that term? Hahahaha! Would you like to use the term Global Warming next? You might want to check on what the NEW term is this year, because the upper atmosphere is not warming. Sorry. The statistical validity of some of the surface measurements are also questionable, but that is pesky non-peer reviewed research science...not your side's fantastic brand of sensationalism.

              The drop of ammonia in the fishtank is the absolute worst example of small things having large effects. Catalysts might be slightly better, but still misses the mark for what we are talking about. CO2 is still not a catalyst or a poison. There is no demonstrated positive feedback loop. As far as ammonia in a fishtank and CO2 in the atmosphere, one is a chemical poison, and the other is a thermodynamic question. How much heat capacity does CO2 have "Mister Established Science? Stay on topic. Thermodynamic properties of a gas. If you wish to branch out, then lets talk about albedo or lack thereof.

              1. Burb
                FAIL

                Re: @multipharious

                Well, I'm not sure where to start with your most recent post.

                If I misrepresented your argument, I do apologise, but I could have sworn that you started banging on about percentages of different gases in the atmosphere and that this was the basis of your argument. It seems that a number of people have interpreted what you were saying in the same way as me. It is possible that you have a more subtle point that you have failed to express very well and I would be happy to hear what it is, should you wish to have another try.

                As for the rest of what you write, you seem to be a tad confused. At the risk of repeating myself: the greenhouse effect is basic physics which is not in doubt. It is possible to accept that and still be sceptical about global warming. The greenhouse effect is a result of certain gases absorbing certain frequencies of infra red radiation from the Earth's surface and re-emitting them. Because they are re-emitted in all directions, the net effect is that less heat is lost to space than if the gases weren't present. The greenhouse effect is pretty much essential for a habitable planet. The 'global warming' issue is about the extent to which the effect is *exacerbated* by extra CO2, not about whether the effect exists at all.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: @multipharious

                  Multipharious is laughing at someone (me as it happens) for using the term Greenhouse Effect, he was given a link to explain what the Greenhouse Effect is and what it does but would rather remain in ignorance with his incorrect preconceptions.

                  I'm pretty sure that means that this "discussion" is over because it's been made abundantly clear that Multipharious doesn't know enough about this subject to know that he doesn't know enough to comment.

      3. Thought About IT
        FAIL

        Re: Preconceived agendas, etc.

        "and you consider it a problem? I would say the title indicates what is on the tin."

        No it doesn't. It indicates a willful ignorance of the effects of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Without these trace gases, global temperatures would permanently be well below zero, as was established more than a century ago.

        Increasing the trace molecule CO2 from 394 ppm to 685 ppm is still a trace, but just like with arsenic, the difference between a small trace and a larger trace can be dramatic.

    2. dr2chase

      Re: Preconceived agendas, etc.

      "Ocean depth predicted to increase by as much 0.1% this century." (3790m x 0.001 = 3.79m)

      1. Michael 36
        FAIL

        Re: Preconceived agendas, etc.

        The North Sea has an average depth of 95m. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Sea). so 0.01% would give a 9.5mm rise in sea level. This would be the same order of magnitude as the change in sea level caused by a millibar change in atmospheric pressure. Given that tidal height is also affected by wind strength and direction, any rise due to the prediction would be too small to measure accurately. Choose your ocean and get a different 'rise' to suit your purpose.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Preconceived agendas, etc.

      I know, it must be terribly inconvenient for the climate alarmists.

      We should all STFU and let them scaremonger in peace.

    4. neil 15
      WTF?

      Re: Preconceived agendas, etc.

      You have to remember that Mr. Page has proven again and again he has no understanding of the science behind climate change but prefers to write pithy headlines about something he found somewhere on a deniers website. More often than not these take one aspect of a paper that is usually unread (by him) and behind a pay wall. The deniers tent to write an article on one thing mentioned in the abstract as it is so the whole thing gets taken to stupid levels by the time it gets posted here.

      Take his proportions given here in this article, he probably still thinks like Dr. Evil that a million is a large number. 7 in 10,000 is very easily detectable and not an insignificant number as he is trying to make out.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Heavyweight or just wrong?

    The international maritime agency today reported that the RMS Titanic was expected to increase speed as it approached Newfoundland. Suggestions that this might not be the best idea were dismissed by shipping heavyweight Bruce Ismay, who said that as the ship hadn't crashed into any icebergs yet, he didn't see the problem. and anyway if they did hit an iceberg the ship was unsinkable, and anyway if it did sink he was rich enough to buy a place on the lifeboat.

    1. boltar Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Heavyweight or just wrong?

      Good analogy. Unfortunately to continue it in this case - if Lewis Page was shivering to death a life raft with dead bodies all around him and the ship sinking in full view he'd STILL pretend it was a normal part of the voyage.

      1. Mike Richards Silver badge

        Re: Heavyweight or just wrong?

        That's not *quite* true - he'd be complaining it would have been better with an American ship.

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Happy

          @Mike Richards

          That's not *quite* true - he'd be complaining it would have been better with an American ship.

          Nice.

          Effortless.

          Minimal.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Heavyweight or just wrong?

      You're right. Better to call full stop and drop the anchors because some "Iceberg Boffins" said that there are icebergs in the area. The passengers can lower their iceberg footprint by swimming the rest of the way to the US.

      1. boltar Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Heavyweight or just wrong?

        "You're right. Better to call full stop and drop the anchors because some "Iceberg Boffins" said that there are icebergs in the area. The passengers can lower their iceberg footprint by swimming the rest of the way to the US."

        Alternatively you could choose a different route , one which avoids icebergs and any chance of sinking. But I guess that would just be too obvious.

  5. Tim Worstal

    Not new news

    Those economic and population predictions are not exactly new. They're exactly the same as are in the SRES, the economic models which underpin the entire IPCC process and which were published in, umm, 1992 or so?

    As to carbon/carbon dioxide. They're really talking about CO2-equivalent (CO2-e) which is, as above, converting all the methane etc into CO2 units.

  6. Purlieu

    Convert

    Convert methane into CO2 that should be worth seeing

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Boffin

      Re: Convert

      Oh dear, soft degree was it ?

      History of art maybe ?

      Well for your info 1 mole of CH4 burns to give 1 mole CO2

      1. Tom 13
        Flame

        @Alan Smithie: Actually he's correct.

        The most fun on Mythbusters is frequently when they are rapidly converting all the CH4 (or equivalents) into CO2.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Convert

      @Purlieu - Really?

      Do you think you should be commenting on a science related article?

  7. James Micallef Silver badge
    Coat

    Leave the global warming issue aside, access to fresh water and severe particulate pollution are likely to be far more acute problems.

    Massive investment in thorium nuclear is required NOW

  8. Audrey S. Thackeray

    Several votes for Thorium

    Can anyone tell me if it is actually any use?

    Why not Uranium?

    Is the groundswell of support based on good evidence or is it just the fashionable fissile* fuel?

    *Well, okay, Thorium's not fissile on it's own but I like a little alliteration.

    1. Chris Miller

      Re: Several votes for Thorium

      Thorium has lots of theoretical advantages (safer, less hazardous waste, fuel more plentiful), but there are numerous technical issues that are still unresolved (proponents will say that's because not enough research money has been spent on it). The smart (i.e. Bill Gates's) money is going on 'Travelling Wave Reactors'.

      Don't bet on fusion either. We may well see fusion delivering net production of energy in the next decade or so (and we've been saying that for at least 30 years), but even a successful fusion reaction has further problems. Deuterium/Tritium fusion produces He4 plus a high energy (14MeV IIRC) neutron. Fission reactions release most of their useful energy in the form of neutrons at a few MeV and these will be typically be absorbed (and then heat) a massive solid reactor core. Fusion neutrons will be (in a Tokamak, anyway) in a pretty hard vacuum. Heating water into steam with such emissions will be tricky. Using light-Helium instead of Tritium yields a high-energy proton, which ought to be more controllable, but we need an economic source of He3.

      SciAm had a good article on this problem a couple of years ago.

    2. Mike Richards Silver badge

      Re: Several votes for Thorium

      Thorium is considered the nuclear fuel of the future (and has been for about 40 years now) for a number of reasons.

      Thorium ore is easy to extract and the most common form - monazite - is found as a heavy sand in and around rivers and beaches. It can literally be scooped up. There are several times as much thorium in the crust as uranium. It's also widely distributed so it doesn't have any economic bottlenecks (unlike the rare earths or lithium). There are enough known thorium reserves to last about 1000 years, without any new discoveries. In the US thorium is getting a real boost because America has by far the largest known reserves of the metal (followed by India - a fellow thorium booster).

      It's pretty much pure Th-232 which when exposed to neutrons produces fissile U-233 without any of the unwanted isotopes of uranium (such as U-238 which is converted into plutonium in the reactor).

      Because you can separate Th-232 from U-233 with relatively simple chemistry, the fuel cycle is simplified and there is much less actinide waste.

      Thorium-breeder reactors will be simpler and cheaper to build than uranium-breeder reactors which use liquid metal cooling and have always been prone to leaks.

      The downsides of thorium are that despite a lot of research, especially in India, no thorium reactor has yet been approved for mass production by regulators. The Indians have a 300MWe plant under construction which, *if* successful, will form the prototype for a fleet of power reactors.

      The second issue with thorium power, which could kill it stone dead, is that U-233 is fast fissile and can be used in nuclear weapons. If thorium were to become a major energy source it does raise the proliferation risk - somehting that should be addressed now, rather than later.

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        Go

        Re: Re: Several votes for Thorium

        So we can't bet everything on Thorium, and standing idly waiting for teh Indians to get it right doesn't sound like much of a plan. A more reasonable solution would be to build Uranium-based nuke stations now to give us 30+ years to sort out the Throium issues. That way, we have plenty of energy, plenty of time, and if the Thorium bugs are never ironed out we can still build more Uranium stations whilst we look for the next option.

      2. Steve Crook

        Re: Several votes for Thorium

        "The second issue with thorium power, which could kill it stone dead, is that U-233 is fast fissile and can be used in nuclear weapons"

        I thought that the original research into thorium reactors in the US was killed because the reactors weren't going to produce anything that could be used to build nuclear weapons. Not saying you're wrong, just that was the impression I had...

        In any event, thorium isn't ready for the big time. Yet. There was a 'Costing The Earth' programme that's worth listening to: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01cjwv1

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

          Re: Several votes for Thorium

          "I thought that the original research into thorium reactors in the US was killed because the reactors weren't going to produce anything that could be used to build nuclear weapons. Not saying you're wrong, just that was the impression I had..."

          Molten salt reactors were originally developed for the Nuclear Powered Bomber programme.

          Their *original* key benefit (along with being pretty compact) was that you could arrange the major Neutron absorber (Xe 135 IIRC) to collect in 1 place and tap it off like bleeding a radiator.

          Proponents have (IIRC) stated one of the other fission products is a hard Gamma ray emitter (U240?) making it *very* difficult to built a bomb that won't drench its builders and its surroundings in radiation. In principal anything like a critical mass would be undergoing quite high level fission

  9. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    Heres

    a message for all the wind energy types

    Check the winds over the UK for the past week and see how much power you can generate from f*** all

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Heres

      Yes, correct. That's why you don't rely upon any single method of power generation. Generation isn't an either or scenario.

      1. Andy Fletcher

        Re: Heres

        I love how that's always given as the justification for wind turbines. A good analogy being the well known fact that everyone in the UK has a private helicoptor just in case their car breaks down one morning.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Heres

          @Andy...

          Really? Or would it be a better analogy to suggest that people take the bus or cadge a lift of a mate if their car breaks down?

          1. Andy Fletcher

            Re: Heres

            Nope - a lift from a mate, or a bus ticket would strike me as being economically viable options.

  10. PyLETS

    Atmospheric C02 not directly proportional to emissions

    Much of this comes down in rainfall and ends up in the oceans. Which become more acidic. We don't know the full effects of this on marine life, but we do know that the photosynthesis occurring within the oceans (plankton) isn't far behind what occurs on land. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxygen_cycle in terms of amount of oxygen released.

    1. Mayhem

      Re: Atmospheric C02 not directly proportional to emissions

      Worse than that - much of the oxygen production on land is consumed by that which produces it - plants release the CO2 at night that hasn't been locked up into cellulose or sugars.

      OTOH just one species of oceanic phytoplankton is responsible for around 20% of total oxygen production. And we're working hard at screwing up the environment it lives in. Way to go guys.

  11. Derk

    Simpler solution to all this.

    Population control. A lot of people in developing countries have large families, to ensure someone is around to look after ma and da in their old age. So instead of sending billions in AID, put in place a scheme whereby families that agree to have one child, will receive free schooling, other financial benefits and a guaranteed pension. Such a scheme rolled out globally could reduce the demand on finite resources. A better world for everyone. Population control. Otherwise we will spread increase in numbers, like a cancer on the face of the planet, until all the resources are used up, then massive population decline due to war.

    1. James Micallef Silver badge

      Re: Simpler solution to all this.

      The really simple solution is education. Invariably, everywhere around the world across all cultures, more education = less children. In rural / labour-intensive communities, big family = profit since children can be put to work. In the past this didn't affect population greatly since a lot of children died before reproducing, now most of these children survive hence the overpopulation.

      More highly educated people tend to have children later in life, and also they tend to work in knowledge economies, where "quality" of children (ie high education) is privileged over quantity, since a family does not need many children just to stay alive.

      I am EXTREMELY skeptical of any type of centrally-managed scheme such as you suggest, there is high possibility of abuse. However simply educating more and more people plus providing information and availability of contraception will allow the trend to sort itself out, and populations will stabilise as countries become richer and more developed

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: Simpler still

        Education is good, and has other benefits, but even cheaper still is simply acknowledging the legal and social rights of women. It turns out that, given the choice, most women choose not spend their adult life being pumped for babies until dying in childbirth around 40. (OK, mild exaggeration, but still...)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Simpler solution to all this.

      No, we give aid to allow people to bring themselves out of the poverty trap. Simple things like a solar powered light, it effectively extends the day allowing people to do things after dark - learning, working extra to that which is required to live and can produce extra income. The extra income allows people to improve their lifestyle, which in turn means that they live longer and don't require as many children to look after them.

      What you suggest is to punish children of parents who have more than one child. It's hardly the childrens' fault that they were born, so why should they be punished. Also, it's not entirely likely that there will be free access to contraception, which would make your scheme unworkable.

  12. strum Silver badge

    Judith Curry

    Hardly a 'heavyweight'.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/baked-curry-the-best-way-to-hide-the-incline.html

    1. Rogan Paneer

      Re: Judith Curry

      As far as sceptics go, perhaps a heavyweight compared to Christopher Monckton.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sorry El Reg.

    This trash has gone on far too long and isn't funny. Shame on you for allowing it to be hosted here.

  14. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Happy

    There's never been a better time

    To start developing satellite solar power stations.

    Come on folks the future does not have to be a live action version of Soylent Green.

  15. JP19

    Suspect maths?

    http://oceanworld.tamu.edu/resources/oceanography-book/carboncycle.htm might be interesting.

    To double the amount of carbon in the atmosphere we would have to burn 1/4 of all know coal reserves or all known oil and gas reserves + 15% of all know coal reserves. The oceans contain 50 times more carbon than the atmosphere. Rocks contain 100,000 times more carbon than the atmosphere. All known fossil fuel reserves contain about 4 times more carbon than the atmosphere.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Suspect maths?

      That's because when they are talking about "carbon" they include all other greenhouse gases with their CO2 equivalent effect factored into the number. Ruminants are pretty efficient methane generators, no burning required, until the cooking phase at least.

  16. JeffyPooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Simple solutions

    Get the underemployed 3rd world peasants to grow bamboo, smolder it to charcoal (a.k a. atmospheric sourced carbon), and then either use it to offset coal or tip it down the nearest abandoned mine shaft. Each tonne of bamboo-sourced charcoal is pretty close to a tonne of carbon removed from the atmosphere, and it is obviously much easier to sequester charcoal than CO2 gas.

    All we need is about ten billion tonnes per year to make a good dent in the problem.

    Ten billion tonnes... Uh...

    Hmmm...

  17. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Happy

    Remember the *second* fastest growing plant species

    is the hemp plant. And being a weed it's *not* fussy about where or how its grow and expertise in its cultivation is widespread (allegedly).

    It can be used to make the core ingredient of something that sounds *almost* impossible (if you know something of how the regular stuff is made)

    Hempcrete.

    It is *better* than carbon neutral, its carbon negative as a building material.

    Imagine all those people displaced by rising water re-housed in new, clean, fireproof hempcrete houses.

    Grow the weed, save the planet.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have some ocean front property

    If you believe these baseless cliams I have some ocean front property in Arizona that I'm sure you would be interested in.

  19. Grade
    Pint

    God, I'm getting old

    I remember an Horizon Documentary (probably in the last century) which covered the biggest mass extinction of life on earth. It wasn't the dinosaurs but 295 million years ago. The temperature increased because of CO2 in the atmosphere was rising, and at about 515ppm, it started the trapped CO2 in the Russian Steppes coming out taking it close to 600ppm. I've no doubt someone will flame me with the correct scenario.

    Anyway, that killed off 95% of the planet. Your report on the OECD report says it will increase CO2 to 687ppm.... been nice knowing you all.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wrong formula

    If they are using the formula from AR4 WG1 Table 2.14 to calculate how long CO2 remains in the atmosphere then their conclusions are wrong. That particular formula depends upon CO2 never mixing whereas the reality is it is a well mixed gas.

  21. Greg J Preece

    Still having the wrong debate

    How about we start talking about the more obvious problem: there are too many humans. We need to start encouraging (not forcing, before you get started) people to curtail the birth rate, and it needs to happen now. These dates are within the lifetime of the next generation.

  22. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Boffin

    BTW CO2 triggers the breathing reflex.

    As the levels of CO2 rise in the lungs your body starts to exhale. There's a classic medical experiment of a man breathing a bag of air through a scrubber canister. He continues to breath *completely* normally despite the fact that the "air" is gradually being reduced to 100% N2

    The divers here (I imagine 1 or 2 of you have used scuba or rebreather gear) will know how dangerous CO2 is. IIRC at 1% your looking at headaches and drowsiness. Regardless of how much O2 is present you won't stop panting. By 1.5% your looking at being knocked out with brain damage and death. I thought Lewis has spent some time in the Navy *as* a diver?

    Submariners and the builders of self contained life support systems have a *very* healthy respect for CO2. It's a human *effluent* like your sweat, your pee and your feces.

    Find yourself in a high enough concentration of *any* of those and you won't like it.

  23. Matt Newton

    well that's what they get for being black

    sorry but it's africas fault their poor thats what u get for it so no they cant have the co2 power plants bexcause it hurts the plant.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: well that's what they get for being black

      Nicely pointed. I'll presume you're *not* agreeing with it.

      I think it's fair to say that there is a *segment* of the green movement that does feel that economic development cannot be *allowed* for some countries because of its *believed* impact on the planet and that a few billion in a poverty level existence is a small price to pay.

      Naturally this is not a price *they* will be paying.

      I'd suggest *some* tree huggers can be remarkably Stalinist in their outlook. Love the trees, hate the people. I'm no great humanitarian but blaming people for where they were born (which when you strip the rhetoric away is what they are saying) is pretty snobbish.

      Actually in the 1920s in the East End of London families could have 10 children, 5 of who would die before their 5th birthday. Decent plumbing, a working economy and a welfare system that meant you did not need your children to support you after retirement cut the next generation family size down to 2 children, who both survived.

      BTW. Spell check is good. Proof reading is better.

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