Is there any realistic way to fight global warming?

Even if we could technologically produce “hydrocarbons from air using nothing but electricity”, doing so with a reliance on conventional nuclear fission power is not going to solve that problem in the near term. The problem is the rate at which we can both construct and certify new nuclear fission plants and produce enriched fuel. Both of these rates have declined dramatically in the last thirty years, and establishing the knowledge base and infrastructure to increase them is neither trivial nor will it replace other sources of energy in the near term. It should also be noted that the current means of extracting uranium are enormously destructive, as are the intermediate wastes of processing and enrichment, dwarfing the problems of dealing with spent fuel.

However, nuclear fission is inarguably a necessary component of future near- to mid-term energy needs, and despite the political adversity to it and the genuine technical issues in dealing with the caustic and persistent processing waste products, it really is the only current source of energy which can replace demand for coal generated energy in the foreseeable future, but we need to be much smarter about how we use these resources. The current once-through uranium cycle is highly inefficient, leaving products that are both hazardous to store and dispose of, and yet still contain a vast amount of usable energy; less than 1% of the available fissile energy is extracted in conventional pressurized water and boiling water reactors. A two pronged approach to developing fast neutron reactors using existing stocks of weapon-grade and enriched material, as well as thorium-based reactors, both of which can extract far more energy per fuel unit as well as reduce the actinide end products, resulting in fuel wastes which are only hazardous for a few hundred years. (The issues with pollution and wastes due to extraction and processing of the key fissile material still remains, but can potentially be reduced and managed better than in past systems.)

However, you make a very good point about the synthesis of hydrocarbons; for transportation and intermittent use, liquid or readily compressible hydrocarbon fuels are ideal, and of course, we already have an infrastructure and transportation technology built around their use. While we may not be able to synthesize them them from the carbon and water vapor in air, the synthesis of low CO[SUB]2[/SUB] hydrocarbon fuels such as methanol and dimethyl ether from natural gas reserves is a straightforward way of optimizing the use of existing fossil fuels and minimizing the increase atmospheric CO[SUB]2[/SUB]. And while mass sequestration of CO[SUB]2[/SUB] directly from the atmosphere is not feasible with any extant or near-term technology, extracting carbon dioxide from the oceans (where it is essentially at equilibrium with the atmosphere) is readily conceivable and would be an excellent way of storing energy from offshore wind and wave power generation versus trying to run power lines to offshore stations.

There are also substantial benefits to be had in improved efficiencies, especially in transportation, residential and commercial construction, and more efficient use of manufacturing and agriculture such that we don’t expend large amounts of energy moving goods halfway around the world. However, these are likely to be offset by the desire for improved standard of living by populations of developing nations, and cannot be relied upon to realize net reductions in energy demand.

As for the current warming trend, models show that it is likely to increase over the near term even if we minimize CO[SUB]2[/SUB] production, and current methods of carbon sequestration at the source are expensive or marginally practical. We will continue to see effects of climate change which are unprecedented in historical experience (though still within changes in the geological record). Life on Earth isn’t going to end, and while there may be significant impacts on human society and economics, it is unlikely that we’ll all die off in mass famine or that Kevin Costner will grow gills and fly around on a jet ski except in poorly received would-be blockbuster films. It is important to take active steps to reduce carbon emissions and deal with the consequences of warming, but it is not the end of the world.


We can.

Granted, it isn’t very efficient, but it does work. The inefficiency kills it, though. The process is at best 50% efficient if you wanted to make synthetic methane and you already had a C02 source, so gasoline from air (and water) is probably more like 10% at best. Then, when you burn that gasoline, you only get about 30% of the energy to the wheels.

That’s like a net efficiency of 3% from your energy source to propulsion.

Solar charge your electric car, and it’s going to be a net of 70-80% of the energy actually reaches the pavement.

That requires additional sodium hydroxide.

Obviously there is no sodium in the final product, so the OH groups must be what is used.

If you really wanted to be “100% air”, you could condense moisture from the air and regenerate the OH group using water. I vaguely remember a reaction in organic chemistry that will do that.

As I said, it’s not a good idea because it wastes the input energy, but it is technologically possible with our current tech.

No it’s not. I was once in a discussion on a weather website where they cited wattsupwiththat and I was able to prove them wrong with another cite from wattsupwiththat and backup cites from other places. wattsupwiththat had shown fancy graphs and data to show X in support of one thing, then a month later used the same data to show that X wasn’t true in support of a different argument.

This doesn’t make a lot of sense. In one post, you say that solar isn’t feasible because of battery issues, and maybe in 10-20 years we might have fixed the problem. But you say the issue with nuclear is that it takes 10-20 years to build a reactor, even though you can be pretty sure that it will work after that time.

I’m not sure what you mean by “observation”. People observe now that renewables don’t scale. I am not aware that there are currently solutions to the same problems that make renewables non-practical now.

Maybe we will have fixed the issues. Or maybe not. It’s like fusion, which is 15-20 years away from realization, and has been for the last forty years.


Good luck with your solar power array during the winter in the northeast of the USA.

Between the low winter sun and the storms that blow through, you’re unlikely to get much if any power from the sun during the winter months.

I think there is a lot we could do. None of it easy. I have read somewhere that Americans use twice as much energy per capita as Europeans. We could stop that (but won’t). We could go to thorium-based or traveling-wave reactors, both of which could supply our needs without running out of fuel for a long time. The thing is that they require development and no one cares enough. If there were a serious carbon tax, the incentives would be different. China and India? Well, if they won’t put on a carbon tax, we could, on everything imported from there. They have the choice of collecting the tax themselves and keeping the money or letting us tax it and we keep the money. The carbon tax would include a big tax on gasoline. Europeans generally pay twice as much for gas as we do and in many parts of the country there are literally no alternatives but to own a car and drive everywhere. I just read somewhere of a plant that is being cultivated for biofuel and they expect it could be enough to operate all the world’s jets. That’s not the whole game, but it’s not nothing. The point is that there is lots of things we could do, no magic bullets but a bunch of lesser blows.

I think the most obvious way to reduce the environmental effects of humans is to reduce the number of humans.

As has already been pointed out, killing 90% of the population directly is probably out of the question. However, enforced birth rates could bring about similar results within about a century.

I’m not sure how the concept could be sold to the public. And I’m not sure how the economic system would cope with negative growth on that scale.

I don’t know about other countries, but the SCOTUS has established a right to privacy wrt birth control and abortion. I don’t see any way to limit birth rates that would be constitutional. You could eliminate tax breaks for having children but that’s probably it.

Yes, I read your post. I quoted the entirety and responded line by line. Seems like doing that would be hard to miss, but I guess it happens.

Given how you throw up your hands, my guess is that you’re closer to the buying a couple shopping bags and leaving them in your SUV end of the environmentalist spectrum. Please do continue with whatever it is you’re doing to help. You’re probably doing more good than by taking fatalistic stances.

Sorry, I wasn’t clear. I was making fun of your dichotomy where the only possible choices are doing nothing and abandoning all industrial activity, which inevitably kills off 90% of humans. Since nobody is seriously saying a big murder party is the only way to address the problems associated with climate change, this claim is fucked for starters, followed by an excluded middle the size of Jupiter. I was making fun of that. Does that help?

Somehow I suspect that if we get to that point, there will again be no “realistic” solutions. It’s awesome that you care at the moment, though. Good on ya.

How about maybe just the first world cutting back on emissions to get the ball rolling? Like maybe a carbon tax? How about some investment in solar-hydrogen cycle technology and infrastructure? How about maybe just some reforesting? Why is it that the only solution you believe would work is one where it’s already too late? And again, why are the only choices “impossible” and “killing 90% of humanity”?

Did I call you a denier? I don’t remember. You may be unimaginative, uninspired, ill-informed, and defeatist, though. It’s not just you, of course. Others in the thread have expressed similar anti-ideas. I don’t have unlimited time and it happens that you started the thread.

Wrong, that blog is not informative, they never correct their discredited points.

What is notorious is that the reason for that site to exist was discredited by Muller, the reason for WUWT came from Watts idea that the island heat effect was the explanation for global warming, it was not as Muller found, that mistake was never corrected and so are many other misrepresentations of climate science.

Only that no one is proposing to abandon our modern world, as Richard Alley reports here what is needed is a larger effort than the one that give us clean water and sewage system to the modern world.

It is calculated that the sanitation grid did not cost much, about 1% of the economy, not that much if one considers the millions of lives saved to prevent diseases like cholera and typhoid.

If we start now (and we are but not in a concerted effort) also about 1% is more or less the calculated cost to deal with our fossil fuel emissions, and of course, this is not adding the lives saved in the unrest that is more likely to take place if we do not control our emissions better.

Uh, no, there are calculations for that, and they are more reliable as they are not based on future simulation but actual data:

When one looks at the current orbital forcing, the temperatures should be going down now, not up. In fact, they are more likely to be one factor of the current “pause” but as the pause of the 60’s 70’s showed, that was just wishful thinking. If natural forcings were the cause of the current warming the observed temperature now should be like the ones observed in the 1920’s

The reason why those “sophisticated” “climate realists” are not called deniers but false skeptics is that they cherry pick the science so as to get the results they want and continue to tell the people that they should not worry about this.

We need to go full-bore nuclear. Now.

Climate engineering could prevent some of the worst aspects of warming. There are various methods of doing this including creating clouds over the pacific or seeding the air with sulfur.

As far as switching to renewables, global spending on renewables is something like 250 billion a year. It sounds like a big number, but global GDP is about 70 trillion, so we are spending about 1/3 of 1% of global GDP on renewable energy. If we got desperate and raise that to 1%, that would triple spending to 750 billion a year globally which would start making some serious headway into the issue, I would assume.

It’s a grab-bag of posts written by lots of different writers who don’t necessarily agree with each other. So it’s not as though it’s by one writer who could confess errors as they are demonstrated by his/her opponents. Watts writes only a small fraction of the posts, anyway.

Reading the blog, you can take a look at a lot of opposing opinions written intelligently and citing research. Read and judge for yourself, say I. Both sides of the debate, not just one.

Time will tell who is right on this. (I think it is the only way one side can be proven right or wrong.)

No it won’t. This debate will never die. The timelines for proof, or disproof, are far too long; they’re inter-generational and it will never be proven if man is a contributing factor to global warming. Never.

And the thing is, it doesn’t even matter. Presently we have no other options but to burn fossil fuels. We are researching new technologies, as we have always done as a species, but until there’s a cost benefit we won’t, and shouldn’t, be switching over to anything alternative anytime soon.

As our resident scientist **jshore *** reported (and he spends a lot of time at WUWT) the answer is no, the opposing views are not written intelligently.

And such is the conclusion of other related experts. Many scientists and statisticians recommend Tamino (an expert on the field) from the blog “Open Mind”, and he is not impressed either.

So no, that blog never goes back to correct how wrong they were on the heat island effect and many other flawed posts they offer. And so the deceptive nature of WUWT continues in that and virtually all other subjects related to this issue.

  • and I told him he has a stronger stomach that the one I have.

How about buying domestically made goods? shipping crap from China burns oil, pollutes the air, and disrupts the whales.
Buy American!
Oh, and BTW-those people trapped in the Russian ship (being frozen in the Antarctic sea) are wondering why the se is freezing 9and its summer in the SH)!