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Messages - FlyingLotus

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The rest / Re: Peak Oil and Climate Change
« on: June 19, 2019, 07:44:21 PM »
Yes, one of Obama's grand compromises with the GOP was opening up foreign markets for US oil. This has been extremely influential. He deserves no credit for being a "Green" President - his approach failed. America is now more like Saudi Arabia or Russia than ever before - as our economy becomes more driven by oil, it'll become more difficult to turn the tide as more people will have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.

The US is rapidly turning into Saudi America. Now that we're producing record levels of oil and are quickly turning into a oil exporter, it will only become harder to pass something like the Green New Deal. Canada is even more thethered to oil than the US - notice how weak Trudeau has been on climate issues...

The rest / Re: Peak Oil and Climate Change
« on: June 17, 2019, 05:26:38 PM »
After we meet the challenge to get CO2 emissions back to 1950 levels, then we must get them back to 1850 levels.  Will 'we' do this with civilization or without it?  It is our choice!

That's the basic challenge. Pulling this off would require an epochal transformation of civilization that we haven't seen in the developed world since WW2 - it would reorder our lives and require a great deal of sacrifice. We can choose to do this or keep putting it off but, no matter what we do, humanity will be forced to change its behavior in radical ways over the next century.

People are incapable of saving for retirement so it makes sense that we'd keep ignoring this existential threat...

The rest / Re: Peak Oil and Climate Change
« on: June 17, 2019, 05:21:14 PM »
but wind/solar couldn't singlehandedly power a city unaided by some baseline source

This is really odd! Funny you would say that. It strikes me new people coming here recently pushing this agenda deliberately.

This myth is debunked by experts all over the place and everyone can look this up themselves. But for some reason, nobody seems to do that. Not even you, who, given what you write otherwise, seems to be an informed person.

So here is my blunt question to you: Are you interested in sea ice or are you here because your employer told you so?

I believe that fact is supported by all of the available evidence. Energy generated via solar/wind fluctuates in substantial ways that does not vary with fluctuation in electricity use patterns, right? You could somehow align the way people live with solar/wind, of course, that's not impossible but is it plausible in democratic societies where people have come to expect comforts without sacrifice? We need to be on war-time footing now and the public is delusional about this.

I am interested in sea ice and I am not sure why this is a niche interest given how critical sea ice is to our broader climate system! If I wanted to spread disinformation for an oil company or whatever, my message would downplay climate change.

Edit: appears that Skeptical Science makes the argument that solar/wind can provide baseload power but they say this might require some natural gas plants that are switched on at times, which seems right to me. Intermitancy of renewables is a big challenge that can be surmounted but it'll require big changes!

The rest / Re: Peak Oil and Climate Change
« on: June 17, 2019, 04:07:02 PM »
FlyingLotus, in your opinion, how does the fact that renewables are now cheaper than fossil fuel fit into your calculation?

Wind/solar electricity is cheaper than natural gas or coal generated electricity in many, if not most, circumstances now but wind/solar couldn't singlehandedly power a city unaided by some baseline source of electricity so natural gas plants will continue to be build, especially as nuclear power plants are mothballed.  The only optimistic news on the climate front stems from this above fact: we might be on the steep upward sloping part of the S Curve for adoption of wind/solar. Sadly, Jevon's Paradox probably applies - if solar/wind become cheaper but there is still a substantial need for natural gas, a lot of the anticipated emissions reductions could be attenuated by increased electricity use as prices drop. 

This trend, of course, is of limited relevance to the transportation sector, which is the sector most relevant to petroleum products - electric vehicles remain expensive, though their price is falling fast, and adoption rates by consumers, while impressive compared to rates even five years ago, aren't sufficient to make rapid progress. Again, there's a kind of Jevon's Paradox at play here - insofar as oil demand is curtailed by improved fuel efficiency and increased adoption of EVs, oil prices are held down and that shifts incentives for other uses of oil or for increased car usage among those who do not have EVs. I certainly wonder if Amazon's growth would have been held back in oil was at 150 dollars a barrel! 

Without aggressive carbon taxation that ratchets up every year, we'll find that markets aren't very useful mechanisms at limiting climate change.

Stated different, the CO2 intensity of economic growth is plummeting due to these advances, a wonderful trend, but this is not sufficient. For every dollar of US GDP, 0.32 kg of CO2 is emitted. In 1950, for every dollar of US GDP, 1 kg of CO2 was emitted. However, due to the growth of the US economy, for emissions to drop to 1950 levels, we'd need 0.14 kg of CO2 to be emitted per dollar of US GDP (and this required intensity rate falls every year) - it took 35 years for carbon intensity to be cut in half between 1979 and 2014. We'd need this to happem again and then some to limit emissions to 1950 levels - this is a very difficult task and the US cannot be assisted by offshoring dirty industries this time...

The rest / Re: Peak Oil and Climate Change
« on: June 17, 2019, 05:50:36 AM »
I can't believe we have so much oil.

It doesn't matter how much there is, the current psychopath ideology will make sure every drop is taken out of the ground. Limits are discredited, you know. They simply don't exist. Death doesn't exist. It must not exist.

More or less, yes. There is a limit to the amount of oil that there is in the ground but you can underestimate the human capacity to make this oil last or to produce this fuel in an efficient manner as it's a convenient fuel - large pools of capital are invested in developing cutting edge engineering solutions and advanced industrial equipment to ensure that this is so. The amount of R&D spending that went into developing hydraulic fracturing boggles the mind.

All of this effort and energy could have been redirected towards wind/solar or, more generally, building infrastructure compatible with a future where we successfully mitigate the effects of climate change. It was not and here we are...

The rest / Re: Peak Oil and Climate Change
« on: June 17, 2019, 05:26:10 AM »
As a student of economics and economic history, while I have little to say about climate science, I have many thoughts to offer about Peak Oil, "Limits to Growth" style thinking and "Population Bomb" claims:
Well, perhaps if you were to study some climate science, and while you are at it, some ecological economics and systems thinking (you could do worse than start on this forum), you would get a rather more nuanced view of those topics.
If I thought you were serious, and not simply trying to be disruptive, I'd go down your list and offer some refutations of your assertions, but I'm afraid that at the moment, it will be futile.

I have little to say about climate science because it isn't my field. It's a hobby of mine and I follow it with a lot of interest but I can't increase your understanding of it and there's no point in pretending otherwise. Instead, I argue that if you're interested in dealing with climate change, you should learn something about economics, a science that has something to say about economic growth, which is the single largest predictor of carbon emissions in a contemporary world where most human activity, in one way or another, is powered by fossil fuels.

What I can say is that peak oil is nonsense. Yes, there will be some "peak" of oil production and oil production will decrease after this peak but that is not Peak Oil, it is something else. Oil production continues to increase, it shows no signs of waning and the break-even price of oil production in the shale field is roughly around the current price of oil - this was unthinkable 5 years ago. Saudi Arabia attempted to flood global markets with oil around the end of 2015 and it ended in disaster for them - the extraction of shale oil remained viable, even as oil prices plunged.  Again, oil fields in Venezuela and Iran have been taken off of global markets and oil prices are at ~50 dollars a barrel. This is about as low as oil prices have been over the past 40 years when you adjust for inflation, during a period of economic growth, when oil demand is robust!

This does not make me a "climate denier" or a right-wing neanderthal or anything like that. I am actually a socialist and I believe that climate change poses an existential threat to the species in the long-run - what I am saying is that things are worse than you think they are because fossil fuels will be much cheaper and easier to extract than anyone anticipated ten years ago. I am arguing that all of this is bad insofar as it influences climate change.

The rest / Re: Peak Oil and Climate Change
« on: June 16, 2019, 09:03:45 PM »
As a student of economics and economic history, while I have little to say about climate science, I have many thoughts to offer about Peak Oil, "Limits to Growth" style thinking and "Population Bomb" claims:
  • As the origins of modern post-war environmentalism has its roots in Limits to Growth style Malthusianism, there has been a strange persistence of belief in these dire predictions, which have been mostly discredited.
  • Stories about "Limits to Growth" style Malthusianism or Peak Oil are mostly contradictory with worst case AGW scenarios. If the former is correct, that will depress carbon emissions, which have a linear relationship with economic output. If you constrain output (a natural consequence of "peak oil"), carbon emissions will fall.
  • Time and time again, the price mechanism has allowed humanity to successfully adjust to oil shocks. High oil prices of the 2000s encouraged investment in exploration of new reserves and development of shale. Similarly, in the wake of 1970s/1980s OPEC oil price shocks, an entire mode of industrial production in the West was ended - manufacturing became much less energy intensive, cars became more fuel efficient etc.
  • Contrary to the dire predictions of Peak Oil enthusiasts, we continue to discover massive new reserves, which have been developed in an unprecedented way. Iran and Venezuela have been taken off the market and oil prices are at historic lows.
  • Oddly, all of these has dire/abysmal implications for the long-term future of humanity - you cannot underestimate our ingenuity for finding carbon buried deep under the surface of this planet and torching it. Even as the price of solar/wind generated electricity plummet, our ability to extract oil/natural gas expands and, as many of you are likely aware, electricity generation is but one aspect of these commodities, which are the foundation of our agricultural system, transport system, are used in plastics, home heating systems etc.
  • In conclusion, Peak Oil/"Limits to Growth" thinking is, in a sense, optimistic from the perspective of environmentalists who wanted to see us "go back to nature" - humanity can prosper for decades to come on the basis of extremely cheap energy, a long-term disaster for the planet and humanity.

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