Does Trump spell climate doom?

The Niskanen Center says no, Vox says yes.  Bailey and Bookbinder at Niskanen:

…while the Clean Power Plan is a dead letter for reasons explained below, every other such executive action will be litigated and delayed. The environmental NGOs’ law departments are getting back into their 2003-2006 mode even as we write this. Not only were the great majority of similar Bush agency actions overturned by the courts, but the current makeup of both the D.C. Circuit and the other federal appellate courts are significantly more favorable to environmental litigants than they were a decade ago.

…getting rid of the CPP is not going to have much of an effect on steadily-declining power sector emissions. As EPA has indicated, the CPP would have little real impact on emission paths in the early years, as low gas prices and state renewable mandates have done most of the work already. There is no sign either will change soon and technology (e.g. LED streetlights) is driving electricity demand reductions in ways that will probably continue.

Trump’s reputed interest in freeing-up permitting of energy infrastructure (e.g., gas pipelines and drilling on public lands, if indeed it can be achieved) may have the paradoxical effect of further reducing emissions. It could make it easier to get currently very cheap Marcellus / Utica gas into the center of the country and perhaps even increase overall natural gas output. This can have only one outcome; reduced national gas prices overall and less coal consumption.

Roberts and Plumer at Vox:

You can see a partial list of past House Republican bills here. In 2013, they proposed cutting EPA funding by fully one-third. GOP committees churned out bill after bill to cut research funding for renewable energy by 50 percent, block rules on coal pollution, block rules on oil spills, block rules on pesticide spraying, accelerate oil and gas drilling permits on public land, prohibit funding for creation or expansion of wildlife refuges, cut funding for the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Loan Program, and … well, there are 61 items on the list.

The Senate GOP isn’t far behind: In 2015, they floated a bill to cut the EPA’s budget by 9 percent and block rules on everything from ground-level ozone pollution to climate change. There may be a few more moderate GOP senators who think global warming is a problem, like Susan Collins (R-ME). But they do not dominate the caucus: Fossil-fuel enthusiasts like Mitch McConnell and James Inhofe do.

There’s no indication that Trump will buck his party on these issues.

Overall I am more persuaded by the Niskanen analysis, but both pieces are worth reading.  Here is my earlier post on the same issues.

Comments

I think it depends on what you think fossil fuel is actually composed of. Is there a moral or spiritual component, or are they just atoms?

If you think carbon's just a molecule, then Niskansen makes a lot of sense.

But if fossil fuel is composed of sin, or evil, then Vox does.

You are right, it has become a religion. Being an environmental scientist involved in actually solving environmental problems along with teaching graduate level environmental engineering subjects, I have watched the eNGO's (environmental NGO's) evolve in half a century from groups that respected science and knowledge to an echo chamber of nonsense and self-interest. They have become a religion, which only respects opinions that confirm their beliefs.

This evolution can be seen when 121 Nobel prize winning scientists sign an open letter to the world denouncing Greenpeace, by name, for being effectively responsible for killing and blinding millions of children and asking whether they should be accused of "crimes against humanity". http://supportprecisionagriculture.org/nobel-laureate-gmo-letter_rjr.html

Being a site populated by economists, the readers should also be shocked at the eNGO's like the Sierra Club working against the proposed (by an economist) Washington state proposition for a revenue-neutral carbon tax and a decrease in payroll taxes. With payroll taxes doing more economic damage than carbon taxes, such a shift is a net economic stimulus, and cutting CO2 is just an unintended consequence of a tax shift.

These environmental activist interests have captured the regulatory system, which has crawled into their little bubble and now creates regulations where they bury known false assumptions deep in the mathematical details of their rules and thinking. Try telling a judge that using a mathematical models that ignores principal components in a problem (like bird predation on salmon smolts or delta smelt) is really a form of fraudulent analysis.

+1 on your assessment of the Washington State initiative.

Along that line, some people in Key Haven FL have slowed the GM mosquito project for no reasonable reason. A project that could eventually many lives. See:

Although 57% of residents of Monroe County in Florida voted in favor of releasing transgenic mosquitoes produced by Oxitec, the fate of the company’s trial there is unclear. In the small suburb of Key Haven, the proposed site of the trial, 65% of the 643 residents who voted were against the release. Although both of these referenda were nonbinding, three of five members on the local mosquito control board have said they would follow the decision of the voters on whether to approve the project. It’s not yet clear what the split vote means for their decision, but the board is expected to discuss next steps at its 19 November meeting.

BTW Tyler you should interview Kevin Folta

No reasonable reason? Once a GM organism gets out and interbreeds with the wild population, that species is extinct. It no longer exists. There is just an artificial hybrid.

Now I may have my odd luddite moments, I may be an extremist when it comes to the environment, but if something can be done some other way, it ought to be done some other way. There are other options. This is a dangerous experiment that may not work but will pollute the gene pool. It should not be done without a very good reason.

Then there is this http://www.theonion.com/article/dnc-aiming-reconnect-working-class-americans-new-h-54707

Yeah, wouldn't want to cause the extinction of the smallpox virus, the polio virus or even Mycobacterium tuberculosis. God must have put them here for a good reason.

You realize that this particular GM organism causes sterility?

In mosquitoes, not people!

That's not how genetics works.

I don't believe this Flordia experiment utilized gene drives, which means that your worries about multi-generational genetic effects are misplaced. You have to keep adding the genes to the systems or they will disappear.

If you are going to have Luddite moments, please check it out on scholar.google.com and ignore the rantings you see on google.com. If you are going to worry, worry about something real. Only some things can be even theoretically dangerous or disruptive.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cochliomyia_hominivorax

The United States officially eradicated the screw-worm in 1982 using the sterile insect technique. However, a 2016 outbreak occurred in Monroe County, Florida.[1] The screw-worm was eradicated in Guatemala and Belize in 1994, El Salvador in 1995, and Honduras in 1996. Campaigns against the flies continue in Mexico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama and Jamaica with financial assistance from the United States Department of Agriculture, which tries to push back the parasite beyond the narrow and easily controlled Isthmus of Panama.

+1 to the religion of the left.

Somehow, I used to me completely moderate but I find the theocracy of the left so repugnant I reflexively distrust, and heck, work against any of their initiatives.

Sometimes I despair. After say Penn and Teller's evisceration of the nitwits ready to ban di-hydrogen oxide I assumed the left's environmental sans-culottes would sulk away in shame but instead they just doubled down on stupid. It's been a few years but I did once try to explain to one of them why his plan to live a carbon-free lifestyle was doomed. Laying out, I thought helpfully, the nature of Organic Chemistry he instead concluded that common chemicals were worse than he'd thought - full of carbon, mostly, and therefore bad. Alas.

Why not engage with the other side's actual ideas, instead of a stupid strawman?

It's easier to pat yourself on the back and convince yourself how smart you are this way.

Well, carbon is an atom, not a molecule.

It can be a molecule if it wants to be! H8ta!

"Carbon" has become shorthand for "CO2", which is, in fact, a molecule. Carbon doesn't generally exist by itself out in the environment (exception: graphite, diamonds), and is certainly not a greenhouse gas.

Still, we should collect everyone's engagement rings and #2 pencils to be sure.

No one does the climate better than Trump, he is the best at the climate, The Paris agreement under Obama has been a disaster. Climate will be second to none under Trump.

https://www.google.com/search?q=new+yorker+trump+cartoon&espv=2&biw=1706&bih=1126&tbm=isch&imgil=CMp249lOVkzwKM%253A%253BQbQthCkI6rGuiM%253Bhttp%25253A%25252F%25252Fwww.wbur.org%25252Fhereandnow%25252F2016%25252F04%25252F29%25252Fcartoon-trump&source=iu&pf=m&fir=CMp249lOVkzwKM%253A%252CQbQthCkI6rGuiM%252C_&usg=__z8J03XD0WA0TVG8p2Dim1UR3z9Y%3D&dpr=0.75&ved=0ahUKEwjj3NGY16vQAhWDYiYKHUR0AWYQyjcILQ&ei=1norWOOZAoPFmQHE6IWwBg#imgrc=CMp249lOVkzwKM%3A

If Trump pulls out of Paris, and the French/EU slap tariffs on the US, and global trade tanks as a result, CO2 emissions will collapse along with China's economy.

I think this is true, even net of the burning French warships sunk as part of the blockade.

There are those who believe the Great Recession was orchestrated to bring down carbon emissions.

Better gets prepared for the tariffs if there's going to be talk like that. No? Implying military violence to exert control over some other jurisdiction's external commercial or trade policy doesn't tend to go over well.

Okay, but is there a downside?

I thought the same thing.

If Trump "frees" (and I hope) oil and gas drilling in US gas supply will go up and prices will go down and the chief loser of this possible outcome will not be the environment but coal industry... interesting.

If a fifteen year-old kid reads this today and lives to be 85 he still won't know if AGW was for real or not.

Depends on his social media circle, and not the objective truth.

Actually, he probably will.

Three examples of AGW that changed my priors: you can sail from Shanghai to Norway via North Pole-this would have stunned my grandfather; the sewers in Miami run backwards at times because of ocean rise and storm surges; Great Barrier reef mostly dead because of ocean water heat waves. Very simple and observable examples imho.

Got any photos of a ship sailing over the North Pole? How high above sea level is Miami? Should they be running sewage into the ocean? What are ocean water heat waves?

Or any temperature chart showing temperature rising and CO2 concentrations rising. Or photos of glaciers in retreat. Or charts of arctic sea ice not reaching prior average levels (and on and on and on).

But that doesn't give the answer that they want, that it isn't real. So it isn't actual 'evidence'

Make no mistake. Sooner or later all the coal will be mined and burned. All of the gas and oil will too. Then the trees and anything else that will burn. I don't know when; maybe 50 years, maybe 100 years, maybe 200 years but sooner or later it will all be burned. It won't affect the climate; it hasn't affected the climate. Our climate is controlled by the sun and the Milankovitch cycles with a healthy dose of atmospheric water vapor thrown into the calculation.

I come for the economics but I stay for the self-selected climate expertise.

I really come because everyone blocked me on FB, Twitter and real life. What does "insufferable" mean anyway?

We have established that the science of climate change literally does not matter in these forums.

How sadly predictable that it is my problem that I notice.

https://www.nsf.gov/discoveries/disc_summ.jsp?cntn_id=189519

Insufferable, amiright?

Anon,

Demonstrate that you understand the topic by presenting the strongest case against the reliability of the climate change consensus.

Josh,

A couple days ago we talked about liquid sodium power plants. Would a reasonable response, for or against, have been "demonstrate that you can design one?"

Of course not, we look at the professional design reviews, and the cumulative data from pilot projects around the world.

It is actually what is wrong with comments that you expect anyone to be a self-selected expert, one able to overpower, overrule, the external reality.

"Would a reasonable response, for or against, have been “demonstrate that you can design one?”"

He didn't ask you to build anything. He asked you to talk about the topic knowledgeably.

It is still an argument against modern civilzation, that a random anonymous commentator should prove or disprove any expert consensus.

But then, we know that at the meta level a war against expertise is itself motivated political thinking.

http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2014/07/a-war-against-expertise.html

"anything else that will burn"

I doubt it

"Make no mistake. Sooner or later all the coal will be mined and burned." -->Did we run out of rocks in the Stone Age? No. Similarly, we won't run out of coal.

"All of the gas and oil will too."-->See response above, only more so. The methane hydrates resource base, which we haven't even started tapping yet, is immense. It could last more than 1000 years powering all the world's present annual energy consumption, at the current annual rate of approximately 550 quads (i.e., approximately 550 trillion cubic feet of natural gas per year).

"It won’t affect the climate; it hasn’t affected the climate." -->Other than the warming we've experienced, and the future warming we will experience, of course. The amount of future global warming isn't known, but essentially no one who has any expertise in the matter is willing to bet that global warming won't occur.

So as I understand it you think that the fossil fuel supply is infinite. But then you say it may take 1000 years before we run out. Which by the way means you agree with my thesis but have an alternative formula to determine the length of time it will take. So which is it? Either we will run out because the supply is finite OR we will never run out because the supply is infinite???

"So as I understand it you think that the fossil fuel supply is infinite."y

No, you're misunderstanding it. We don't run out of things. That's not the way the world works. Things become scarce, so we pay more than we'd like to. So we find substitutes that are better.

Coal is a nasty, nasty fuel. It causes environmental degradation when it's mined. It causes environmental degradation when it's burned. (And not namby-pamby CO2. Real hard-core pollutants like particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide.)

Therefore, we're only too happy to switch to alternatives like natural gas when coal starts to even get the slightest bit expensive. (Or even when the price of coal-fired generation increases because we install pollution controls to try to reduce some of the extreme external costs from burning coal.)

So we switch to natural gas. But in the United States, llooonnggg before we run out of natural gas, electricity from photovoltaics will drop below the cost of producing electricity from natural gas. So we'll switch to photovoltaics. (Perovskites look VERY promising!)

Other countries around the world that don't have abundant sunlight may go to nuclear. (Molten salt thorium reactors, operating at atmospheric pressure, would be great.) In fact, even in the U.S., in places like the Northeast, nuclear might be cheapest.

But my point is that the endpoint in the U.S. is not coal. It's not even natural gas. It's photovoltaics...with a bit of wind, and possibly some nuclear (though we don't absolutely need nuclear). That's why we won't run out of coal or natural gas...because better things will come along. (In fact, coal is already dying in the U.S.)

P.S. I think this has almost zero chance of happening, but if Donald Trump and his congressional friends wanted to fund a few competing pilot plants of liquid fluoride thorium reactors (each say 20 megawatts thermal or less) I wouldn't complain...provided that the cost for each was $200 million or less. (I guess I'd have to turn in my Libertarian Party membership card.)

I hope you are right about something better coming along. I got ahold of my first photo-voltiac cell some 60 years ago. I was hooked. I have always embraced PV. I read every new story about how some new breakthrough was going to make it cheaper or more efficient or whatever the latest theory geheld for PV. Here it is after 60 years slightly more efficient, slightly cheaper but still impractical. The electrical energy from PV costs about 10-20 times more than electricity generated from coal, NG or hydro. (the 10-20 times difference is basically due latitude and weather conditions.) I can't predict the next breakthrough that might suddenly make it practical but the history doesn't give me any confidence that a 10 times increase in either efficiency or cost effectiveness is likely to happen. I do have my own PV system on my travel trailer. I love it. But it is an expensive luxury.

You are correct that the price of fossil fuels will dramatically increase as supply decrease. But I don't think that will change what I predicted. The nuance that you are leaving out of your calculation is what happens when we literally are running out of oil, NG and eventually coal? It won't matter what the price is people will still want to be warm, still want to eat, still want to be clothed. with 7 billion people on earth and that number doubling every 50-100 years we WILL run out of fossil fuel and when we get to that point there won't be anyone worried about global warming. The choice will be to starve while shivering in the cold and darkness or mine some coal. Do you think we won't mine the coal and burn it?

@GWTW: cheer up, the world's population isn't doubling anymore, it's plateauing. The greater risk is not overpopulation but a population crash.

If all the fossil fuels vanished into nothing tomorrow, or perhaps better in the space of some very few years, it would not set us back more than a couple/few years worth of economic growth to cover the investment costs necessary to install much of the replacement, and presumably rationing due to high prices would take care of much of the rest.

Ensuring basic access would be an issue, of course, but I don't see why the cost of panels would be expected to rise by much in the face of a larger market.

" But in the United States, llooonnggg before we run out of natural gas, electricity from photovoltaics will drop below the cost of producing electricity from natural gas. So we’ll switch to photovoltaics. (Perovskites look VERY promising!)"

It's not the cost of photovoltaics (or wind turbines) that matter as much as the cost of energy storage. However, I tend to agree that as the costs fall, fossil fuel plants will be priced out of the business.

The prediction is that world population will level off. We have to wait 30 years to see if that prediction is correct or wrong just as so many predictions are wrong. Either way 7 billion people require a lot of energy.

" electricity from photovoltaics will drop below the cost of producing electricity from natural gas." And pink haired unicorns will dance in the fields too in your dream land.

"It’s not the cost of photovoltaics (or wind turbines) that matter as much as the cost of energy storage."
It is the cost. Understand this basic fact; almost all of the cost of PV and wind turbines is the cost of the energy to create them. In China they built the worlds largest PV plant and they built a coal fired electric generation facility next to it dedicated to powering the manufacturing. Imagine for just a moment that PV was practical; what could possibly be a better way to prove/show it than to power the manufacturing facility with PV? Well everyone with two or more brain cells knows the answer; PV is too expensive and to undependable. It is ONLY for one purpose and that is to extract massive subsidies from governments.

"f all the fossil fuels vanished into nothing tomorrow... it would not set us back more than a couple/few years worth of economic growth to cover the investment costs necessary to install much of the replacement,"

What replacement?? Using what to power that engine of recovery?? The modern world is powered by cheap and readily available energy. Without it we will fall back into the 17th century. You cannot build PV panels and wind generators that require huge amounts of energy and resources without cheap power. THAT is why they are unsustainable.

Like it or not the simple fact is fossil fuels are a gift. They are finite they are cheap to access and once they are gone they are gone forever. There is no viable plan B. If there were it would (given what we know today) be nuclear fusion. But nuclear fusion has proved elusive.

"Here it is after 60 years slightly more efficient, slightly cheaper but still impractical."

No, that's not even close to correct. There was more utility-scale photovoltaic capacity installed in the first quarter of 2016 than any other fuel source:

https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/solar-accounted-for-64-of-new-electric-generating-capacity-in-the-us-in-q1

And power purchase agreement (PPA) prices are now commonly at or below 5 cents/kilowatt-hour:

http://1t2src2grpd01c037d42usfb.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2015/09/graph.png

Subsidies such as the Investment Tax Credit of 30 percent, and mandates such as renewable energy portfolio requirements affect both the amount of utility photovoltaics installed and the PPA prices. But this is big business. In areas of the country like the Southwest, utility-scale photovoltaics are

"I can’t predict the next breakthrough that might suddenly make it practical but the history doesn’t give me any confidence that a 10 times increase in either efficiency or cost effectiveness is likely to happen." -->You're right that a 10 times increase in efficiency is not going to happen, because utility-scale photovoltaic installations are already above 20 percent efficiency. And with power-purchasing agreements right now less than 5 cents per kilowatt-hour, it's unlikely they'll get down below 0.5 cents per kilowatt-hour.

"You are correct that the price of fossil fuels will dramatically increase as supply decrease. But I don’t think that will change what I predicted. The nuance that you are leaving out of your calculation is what happens when we literally are running out of oil, NG and eventually coal?" -->We won't "literally run out." It can't happen. Higher prices yield more production, but they also yield less demand. Let's say the prices of coal and natural gas triple in the U.S. Well, then coal and natural gas will no longer be even remotely competitive with solar and wind (plus batteries for storage) for electricity generation. The demand for coal and natural gas would go down close to zero. A similar dynamic exists for gasoline. Suppose the gasoline cost jumped to $6 per gallon. Well, then alternatives would be found to reduce the demand for gasoline. One possibility is methanol, which the Chinese are already making from natural gas as a gasoline substitute. But another even bigger possibility is electric batteries for transportation, with electricity from photovoltaics and wind.

"The choice will be to starve while shivering in the cold and darkness or mine some coal. Do you think we won’t mine the coal and burn it?" -->We won't need to make that choice, especially in the U.S. Photovoltaics and wind (and electrical storage) can and will replace all coal-fired electricity even within this century in the U.S.

I SPEAK FOR THE TREES!

If we cut down all of the trees then then albedo of the earth will change sufficiently that climate change literally won't be an issue.

Boy oh boy, Vox is really getting out there when their source is EcoWatch. The most read article right now is "Noam Chomsky: 'The Republican Party Has Become the Most Dangerous Organization in World History'" [sic]. Not to discredit a source because it's biased, but that seems a little extreme.

Chomsky is old enough to have lived through the era of the Nazis and the Bolsheviks. And still he hasn't grown up.

Chomsky knows the Nazi's only burned Jews.

He thinks Republicans are much worse because they want to burn oil, gas and coal.

Yeah but he loved the Bolsheviks. His definition of "dangerous" does not mean danger to the sort of people the Khmer Rouge killed. It means dangerous to people he cares about.

Although quite who those are, I do not know. Still, he has his off-shore tax-avoiding trust to keep him safe.

Is that true? If so, awesome.

One of the most persistent themes in Noam Chomsky’s work has been class warfare. The iconic MIT linguist and left-wing activist frequently has lashed out against the “massive use of tax havens to shift the burden to the general population and away from the rich,” and criticized the concentration of wealth in “trusts” by the wealthiest 1%. He says the U.S. tax code is rigged with “complicated devices for ensuring that the poor — like 80% of the population — pay off the rich.”

But trusts can’t be all bad. After all, Chomsky, with a net worth north of US$2-million, decided to create one for himself. A few years back he went to Boston’s venerable white-shoe law firm, Palmer and Dodge, and, with the help of a tax attorney specializing in “income-tax planning,” set up an irrevocable trust to protect his assets from Uncle Sam. He named his tax attorney (every socialist radical needs one!) and a daughter as trustees. To the Diane Chomsky Irrevocable Trust (named for another daughter) he has assigned the copyright of several of his books, including multiple international editions.

Chomsky favours massive income redistribution — just not the redistribution of his income. No reason to let radical politics get in the way of sound estate planning.

When I challenged Chomsky about his trust, he suddenly started to sound very bourgeois: “I don’t apologize for putting aside money for my children and grandchildren,” he wrote in one e-mail. Chomsky offered no explanation for why he condemns others who are equally proud of their provision for their children and who try to protect their assets from Uncle Sam. (However, Chomsky did say that his tax shelter is OK because he and his family are “trying to help suffering people.”)

Where does Vox cite Ecowatch? not only is that group not in the linked article, but Google tells me that Vox has never mentioned Ecowatch.
https://www.google.nl/search?q=ecowatch+site%3Avox.com&oq=ecowatch+site%3Avox.com&aqs=chrome..69i64j5l5.48953j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

Right now (10 hours after you posted), there are no Chomsky articles on Vox's top 100
http://www.vox.com/top-100

What we do know, however, is that this will likely not lead to the increased ambition needed (and this was needed already) to reduce global GHG emissions to where impacts can be limited. We were already on a trajectory where this was not likely and this may put the nail in the coffin on that; however, as Roberts and Plumer argue, and have argued in the past, climate change is not a yes/no ordeal but a sliding scale where every avoided ton of emission matters.

"What we do know, however, is that this will likely not lead to the increased ambition needed (and this was needed already) to reduce global GHG emissions to where impacts can be limited."

What do you think global warming (degrees Celsius temperature increase) will be from now to 2100 now that Donald Trump will be president, and what would it have been if Hillary Clinton had been elected president?

Depends on how much global initiatives or commitments fall apart as a result of the difference.

OK, let's assume that the Paris Agreement falls apart when the U.S. pulls out, and that it would have been fully implemented under Hillary Clinton. What is the warming from now to 2100 under those two different scenarios?

There is a common thread in all of these posts that the underlying economics of "clean" energy are sound. I think most of the "experts" in the space would agree. Despite the Trumps points, coal is dead and it was killed by natural gas. There is no bringing back coal in the US. There is continued growth in solar and wind development and related jobs. State policies of CA and NY are aggressive in their clean energy pursuits. TX continues to have wind development, and PA is drowning in natural gas. Those four states alone represent 35% of the national GDP and 25% of the total electric consumption.

What I believe is getting lost, at least in the excerpts, is that the US was quietly positioning itself to potentially (finally) be a leader on climate. The feeling now based on the Republican platform and Trump's 100-day plan is that the opportunity will be squandered. The Paris accord was the first meaningful glimmer of global progress on the issue. Part of why Paris was able to happen was because of Obama's executive actions addressing climate change. Those executive actions are now clearly in jeopardy and while it is likely the US will still meet its obligations due to the aforementioned underlying economic trends, it's the potential global implications that are the most worrisome.

"Part of why Paris was able to happen was because of Obama’s executive actions addressing climate change."

Can you flesh that out? What executive orders preceded and enabled the Paris Accord?

The economics are certainly NOT sound. At least, not everywhere. Hydro is cost-effective, of course, but all the good sites are now tapped. Wind pays well enough too, mostly, and Solar is OK-ish if you have north of 2000KWh/m^2 local annual insolation. But both are severely limited by despatchability. You can't store cost-effectively store electricity in useful volumes! You need staggering amounts of storage to push renewables much above 40% in the long term and nothing Elon Musk is building will change that.

It gets worse: Tidal is ludicrously expensive. Wave breaks apart. Bio is expensive and starves Africans. Geothermal is ok, I guess, if you are Iceland.

Bottom line: people who think we can go full renewables need to sit down with a spreadsheet and try matching the intermittent supply data to demand on an hour basis and come up with some way to store 1000's of Terawatt Hours for multiple weeks to even out inter-seasonal variation. You can push them to about 30%, maybe 50% tops, before your green solutions require some large degree of conventional back-up. There are large system costs not reflected in the green propaganda!

There is no bringing back coal in the US.

This will only be true under certain conditions- gas remains abundant and cheap and nuclear gets revived as a policy for baseload generation. Otherwise, coal based generation will reemerge at some point.

"This will only be true under certain conditions- gas remains abundant and cheap and nuclear gets revived as a policy for baseload generation. Otherwise, coal based generation will reemerge at some point."

Why do you say "and nuclear gets revived"?

Very few of Vox's list of Republican positions have anything to do with climate. This is an example of the typically low priority that environmentalists give climate change. Another example is their position (between lukewarm support to medium opposition) of the revenue-neutral carbon tax initiative in Washington state.

Surely we have much more that 4 or 8 years to address AGW.

I dunno -- Ten years ago Al Gore said we only had five years left, or it was all over.

Of course he also said "Science is anything you want it to be."

Well, the world did end last week, so Gore was off by only 5 years.

Who cares? The science of geo-engineering is well-understood, and the process is way cheaper than limiting carbon. Unlike carbon limits, It doesn't require any coordination or planning decades ahead of time. If temperatures are too high in 2070, then just pump out stratospheric aerosols in 2070, and temperatures will be arbitrarily lower in 2071. Not only do we reap the benefits of 50 years of tech, but we don't need to convince todays voters to deal with an issue that most of them will never be alive to worry about.

Even if you ignore geo-engineering, climate change is the most blown out of the water topic in mainstream convos. Seriously, you hear people running around acting like climate change portends to the extinction of human civilization. The worst (sane) estimates ball-park an impact of 10-15% of world GDP in 50 years. That's not insignificant, but apply 50 years of NPV discounting, and it's not even clear whether climate change should be in the top 10 most important political topics. Even if we burn carbon and spit methane without consideration, we're talking nothing worse than building Holland-scale dykes, adding Israeli-like desalination plants, and expanding existing tropical disease prevention programs.

LOL, the "Iris Effect"? Negative feedback to save Planet Earth? Already you got more plant growth due to Co2 increases but that won't save Rehobeth beach or Atlantic City beachfront property...Trump will be displeased.

I'm also a proponent of geo-engineering, but you're oversimplifying things. We can't puff aerosols into the air for a year (2070) and call it a wrap in 2071 because aerosols are short lived. In contrast the CO2 we've released will take centuries to disappear, meaning that we'd have to keep spewing aerosols indefinitely (or do carbon capture on a large scale, which isn't so simple). Aerosols aren't totally harmless either, so it would be nice to not have to spew them for too long. Finally, CO2 isn't just a greenhouse gas, it's also causing serious ocean acidification.

There is a lot of hyperbole about global warming, which I agree should be discounted, but there is also a large amount of uncertainty, which should not be ignored. E.g. there's a lot of uncertainty about the power of various climate change feedback mechanisms. (There's a reason this is a field of ongoing research.) So even if the best current predictions are 10-15% of GDP, there are some seriously long tails that should not be ignored.

+1

I am very familiar with solar geoengineering. Yes, it appears to have a lot of potential, but only if it were used in conjunction with emissions cuts and -- hopefully -- carbon dioxide removal.

The real problem with climate change is not the median or mean expected impact. Instead, it is the long tails of low probability, high impact about which we should worry.

"If temperatures are too high in 2070, then just pump out stratospheric aerosols in 2070, and temperatures will be arbitrarily lower in 2071."

In fact, under every IPCC scenario of their third assessment report, if the world in 2100 started spending 10% of its GDP to remove CO2 from the atmosphere (at an extremely conservative cost of $1000 per ton of CO2 removed) then the global atmospheric concentration could be brought down to 350 ppm by the end of the 22nd century.

http://markbahner.typepad.com/random_thoughts/2013/04/global_warming_is_not_irreversible-1.html

In other words, it is completely unscientific to call global warming "irreversible."

Since we are so good at polling to estimate the results of an upcoming election, I say we should def. trust cost estimates of a crash program to remove CO2 manually from the atmosphere in 2100 AD. What could possibly go wrong?

Since we are so good at polling to estimate the results of an upcoming election, I say we should def. trust cost estimates of global warming. Or cooling. Or whatever the claim is this week.

"IPCC scenario of their third assessment report, if the world in 2100 started spending 10% of its GDP "

BWHAHAHA. 10% of GDP in 2100. It will cost us a couple of days of solar flux to re-bind all CO2, Who knows what kind of technology they will have by then?

"Who knows what kind of technology they will have by then?"

No one does, and for that reason, we shouldn't rely of future tech to save the day -- especially since we have such a bad track record of predicting future technologies. If we had real solutions within striking distance, I'd feel differently. (It's in no way guaranteed that we'll capture a meaningful fraction of the total solar flux by 2100.)

You make it sound like spending 10% of GDP for the better part of a century is no big deal and won't be the least bit controversial. True, global warming is reversible in that sense, but so is breaking your leg. Just because a broken leg can heal doesn't mean that breaking your leg is no big deal. Like almost everything, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The current cost of developing renewable energy sources, getting rid of coal, increased fuel efficiency standards, getting rid of incandescent light bulbs, etc. is well under 10% of GDP, so curtailing current efforts is almost certainly foolish. We should work to stop the bleeding now so that the healing process is less painful later.

"The worst (sane) estimates ball-park an impact of ..." whatever the "worst" result is after excluding all the results I don't want to pay attention to.

Niskanen Center named after the eponymous Dr. N. Here are what my notes say on Dr. N (better than Google, my hard drive, which I've fully indexed for keyword searches)...

A dedicated libertarian, William Niskanen was also a dedicated pot-stirrer. For him the two vocations-pressing the case for small government and, at least intellectually, making trouble-were inseparable. He was best known as an original member of Ronald Reagan's Council of Economic Advisers, one of a principled band of Reaganites who followed their man into the White House
and then drifted away as Reagan succumbed to political ompromise and ideological deviationism -- REPUDIATED starve the beast after being one of its intellectual authors, as Niskanen felt not raising taxes would encourage overuse of government services, -see . Limiting Government: The Failure of “Starve the Beast.” Cato Journal 26, no.3 (fall): 553–58 2006

The Niskanen analysis is kind of weird. They make a strong case that congress will eliminate the EPA's ability to regulate CO2 emissions under the clean air act, but the article then continues "Assuming EPA authority stays intact..." and doesn't really consider the issue again. Where's the analysis for if the EPA's authority is eliminated?

See Oh, Too?

Or, Sea O Two.

See, no one agrees on See Owe 2.

About as Clear, Cough, Cough,

As Clean Coal.

Trump policy is the final death knell to Appalachia, or at least the part of Appalachia that's reliant on coal. The gas producing parts might not even do great, as the supply boost originating from other regions won't help.

The international coal market, natural gas, alternative fuels, battery storage, inability to use coal plants for peaking...all have been the death of coal.

The question I have is: Would the transition been easier had they agreed on cap and trade...so that if coal were more efficient one could buy carbon capture credits.

Sometimes markets work. Look at Acid Rain program.

Heuristic: Vox is always wrong*.

(* at least if there is any possible partisan or worldview-political angle.)

Trump's views are only part of the issue. The rest is that he will routinely approve whatever the Republican House and Senate pass.

It is Econ 101 (and correct Econ 101, at that) that society should choose the cheaper of forestalling global warming and accommodating to it. Of course, if the "deniers" are correct, then accommodating is free. But even if they are wrong, virtually every analysis I have ever seen suggests that accommodation is cheaper than forestalling. I always use the example: if you knew that Manhattan would be underwater in 150 years, what would you do differently today? The logical answer is nothing, and the dikes you'd have to build 50 years from now are pretty cheap in NPV.

Not everyone agrees that all of the world's problems should be addressed at an introductory level. Although surely there are some useful principles in introductory economics for some of the more straightforward ways of calculating costs, is not necessarily a good modelling of utility-centered portrayals of risk which should be more or less consistent with lots of stuff in finance, etc.

"Since we are so good at polling to estimate the results of an upcoming election,..." -->I'm not sure how predicting human behavior is the same as predicting CO2 removal from the atmosphere. But in any case, I think virtually everyone predicted that Hillary Clinton would have about 50 percent of the non-third-party popular vote, and Donald Trump would also have about 50 percent of the non-third-party vote.

"I say we should def. trust cost estimates of a crash program to remove CO2 manually from the atmosphere in 2100 AD."

It's hardly a "crash program." The U.S. spent ~10 percent of its GDP from the end of WWII to the early 1970s on defense. I don't know anyone who thinks the U.S. was suffering during that time. (In fact, that's when America was at its greatest. ;-)) And it's only 10 percent of the GDP if the cost is $1000 per ton of CO2. Very reasonable experts who are studying the costs of removing CO2 from the atmosphere think the value will be much lower, e.g.:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bio-energy_with_carbon_capture_and_storage

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/06/business/pilot-plant-in-the-works-for-carbon-dioxide-cleansing.html

If the cost was $100 per ton of CO2, then only *one percent* of world GDP spent on removing CO2 from the atmosphere would reduce the atmospheric CO2 concentration to 350 ppm by the end of the 22nd century, under all the IPCC scenarios. (Which probably dramatically underestimate global GDP, barring thermonuclear war or takeover by terminators.)

What's so special about 350 ppm? Wasn't pre-industrial less than 250 ppm? Isn't the minimum that would support life on earth 200 ppm?

"What’s so special about 350 ppm? Wasn’t pre-industrial less than 250 ppm?"

The average in the millenium before the Industrial Revolution was more like 280 ppm. I chose 350 ppm because it's a concentration that is more likely to keep ice ages from sneaking up on us.

"Isn’t the minimum that would support life on earth 200 ppm?"

Yes, hopefully our descendants won't get addicted to removing CO2 from the atmosphere, and will stop at a reasonable number.

OK... but why 350, and not 400? Or more?

Presumably the CO2 concentration has been much higher than now during, say, the last million years? During the timeframe that, say, oysters and fish have been around? (putting to the lie that acidification is anything to worry about).

"OK… but why 350, and not 400? Or more?"

Well, sea level will rise faster. But I don't think there's a big difference between 350 ppm and 400 ppm. In fact, somewhere in the range of 300-450 ppm is probably fine.

"Presumably the CO2 concentration has been much higher than now during, say, the last million years? During the timeframe that, say, oysters and fish have been around? (putting to the lie that acidification is anything to worry about)."

It's more like 4 million years, but as far as I know, oysters and coral reefs existed. But one important point is that all living things have an easier time adapting if the change is slow.

I think we should shoot for 1000ppm.

I've seen many studies that suggest that high levels of CO2 in the atmosphere will increasing the acidity level of the oceans. This will damage ocean ecosystems, especially coral reefs, and reduce global fish stocks. Under the more extreme scenarios, shellfish like oysters and clams won't be able to form shells. We wouldn't just be warming the atmosphere, we'll be severely damaging our food supplies. https://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch10s10-4-2.html

I don't think we should count on a crash program starting 84 years from now. We should plan better than that.

Ocean acidification is another of those "possibly real but small effects" that no one ever bothers to quantify, least of all the Greens. We're talking projected changes which are much less than the daily variation in local Ph.

I blame statistics education. People can't distinguish between a significant effect and an important one.

"I’ve seen many studies that suggest that high levels of CO2 in the atmosphere will increasing the acidity level of the oceans."

Yes, but those are very high CO2 levels over long periods of time. My point is that, per the IPCC's own estimates of the global GDP in 2100, under every scenario they had in their third assessment report, our descendants in 2100 could bring the CO2 concentration down to 350 ppm by 2200 by spending 10 percent of their GDP.

And that's if CO2 removal from the atmosphere cost $1000 per ton per ton of CO2. Reasonable estimates have been 5-10 times lower than that. If the cost was 5-10 times lower, or $200-$100 per ton of CO2, our descendants would only need to spend 1-2% of their GDP for 40-100 years to get the CO2 concentration down to 350 ppm. Or they could spend another couple decades to get down to the pre-industrial concentration of 280 ppm.

Where do nuclear plants fit in all of this?

"Where do nuclear plants fit in all of this?"

In the U.S., possibly nice, but not absolutely necessary.

Open Borders and foreign aid present the greatest threat of increased carbon emissions.

Since much of the northern US was covered by ice a mile thick less than 10,000 years ago, the idea that the earth would be in some sort of climate stasis if it wasn't for stupid, greedy men is ludicrous. If all of homo sapiens left for Uranus tomorrow the world climate would still change. Furthermore, in the tiny amount of time that sentient beings have roamed the place, there haven't been any truly planetary disasters, like an asteroid hit or a really serious amount of volcanic activity. If you want to see climate change just a wait a couple of thousand years, a big swat from an asteroid will make it happen. Where do you think all those weird features on that big moon up there tonight came from? It really is the height of anthropo-hubris to think that the feeble efforts of man can make the oceans rise and fall.

A long time ago things were more different from today than the difference looking forward over a much shorter period of time.

Therefore the difference over this shorter period of time, say, 100 years, is irrelevant because the total possible difference over that timeframe looks small compared to what happened over 10,000 years.

Moreover, it is impossible that humans have made or will make any of these changes happen (i.e., no AGW), for the fact that it was more different 10,000 years ago than the difference we're looking at over a 99% shorter period of time.

"Trump’s reputed interest in freeing-up permitting of energy infrastructure (e.g., gas pipelines and drilling on public lands, if indeed it can be achieved) *may have the paradoxical effect* of further reducing emissions."

Ummm...planted axiom alert: I very much doubt that Trump--or any other AGW skeptic--is against emissions reductions per se. I expect most of them--of us, since I am one of them--are against the incredibly stupid, inefficient, costly ways that the Gaia-worshippers apparently prefer. As Dilbert puts it: "I'm not anti-management, I'm anti-idiot."

The way to reduce emissions is not to fight the market: it's to *harness* the market. The day that all-electric cars, homeowner-installed solar, or any of the other heavily-subsidized "solutions" become inexpensive enough for people to want to buy them in preference to the existing alternatives, well...I expect they will do so without any "help" from the government.

Nuclear power was once viewed as the "magic bullet," an energy source "too cheap to meter." That was before its opponents found a way to interpret the Environmental Protection Act--and a compliant judge or two to substantiate their view--that essentially required power companies to revisit--and potentially re-litigate--their environmental impact statement *each and every time* they made any change to their architecture. I was living and attending high school in New Hampshire when the Clamshell Alliance was busy fighting the NH Power Authority over Seabrook 2...in 1975!

Nuclear power plants ceased being built in this country in the late 1970s. We now have something like 100 legacy plants that provide roughly 20 percent of the energy for the electrical grid. Since it's still virtually impossible to build a nuclear plant in this country, as those legacy plants come to the end of their useful lives and go dark, necessarily they must be replaced, and in general, they are necessarily replaced with something that has a larger CO2 footprint--since a nuclear plant has a CO2 footprint of...zero.

Meanwhile, France, which has a much less tolerant view of civil interference with government projects, built enough nuclear power plants to supply *80* percent of their electrical power. Imagine how low our CO2 emissions could be if we'd done the same!

Do not misunderstand me: I am not saying that nuclear is the be-all and end-all. What I am saying is that the directions we can expect the Trump Administration (still can't quite get used to that!) to take will *almost by definition* lead to reduced CO2 emissions, along with greater efficiency, lower costs, and all the other benefits of replacing "old-and-busted" with "the new hotness." No one is proposing to build NEW oil or coal-fired plants to the latitudinarian emissions specifications of the 1970s! But we have to let the energy industry do its thing, and--yes!--even make profits as part of that, if we are to achieve any of these ends.

It’s hard to say anything like that but Trump has certainly made things big so far. I believe we could see things run this way further which is why we need to be very wise and careful. I always trade with the trend and it’s helpful with broker like OctaFX which is all class having love able conditions plus swap free account option, so all this makes trading ever easy to do for me in so many ways and helps me stay relaxed.

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