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Blueprints For Taming the Climate Crisis 389

Posted by Soulskill
from the pump-all-of-our-smog-into-the-sun dept.
mdsolar sends this story from the NY Times: Here's what your future will look like if we are to have a shot at preventing devastating climate change. Within about 15 years every new car sold in the United States will be electric. ... Up to 60 percent of power might come from nuclear sources. And coal's footprint will shrink drastically, perhaps even disappear from the power supply. This course, created by a team of energy experts, was unveiled on Tuesday in a report for the United Nations (PDF) that explores the technological paths available for the world's 15 main economies to both maintain reasonable rates of growth and cut their carbon emissions enough by 2050 to prevent climatic havoc. It offers a sobering conclusion: We might be able to pull it off. But it will take an overhaul of the way we use energy, and a huge investment in the development and deployment of new energy technologies. Significantly, it calls for an entirely different approach to international diplomacy on the issue of how to combat climate change.
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Blueprints For Taming the Climate Crisis

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @01:52PM (#47417681)

    I look forward to the enlightened, reasonable debate to follow. Please chain down your chairs and pop some popcorn.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by vtcodger (957785)

      A reasonable debate between groups of airheads who have not the slightest idea what they are talking about? That'll be interesting.

      Consider that on the one side we have a revealed religion that depends on global climate models that embody all they think they know about climate. The GCMs really do not seem to work. They clearly run way too hot. So that causes a frantic effort to identify what is wrong with the models and fix it? Of course not. The response is to make stuff up, throw excrement, and yell

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        The GCMs really do not seem to work. They clearly run way too hot.

        What is your evidence for that?

        The vast majority of the scientific community agrees that the models are fairly representative of what we can expect. No model will every be perfect, that would be a simulation. Deniers just keep finding ever more minute flaws or things that they (deliberately) misinterpret to confirm their doubt, but that doesn't change the fact that any scientifically rigorous study will conclude that there is a serious problem we need to address.

        Do you have some actual evidence or an altern

  • by vinn (4370) on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @01:53PM (#47417695) Homepage Journal

    I live in Montana and I'm rather looking forward to global warming. This place is gonna be even more amazing when it gets warmer. I might even have to buy a summer home in the Yukon.

    On a slightly more serious note, as Winston Churchill once said, "You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else."

    • by akma (22089)

      You're screwed. The NOAA's data shows cooling. Invest in a thicker coat.

  • Or (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sexconker (1179573) on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @01:55PM (#47417713)

    How about we just use nuclear power for most cases because it's more efficient, safer, etc.?
    How about we just use electric cars for most cases because they're simpler, more efficient, etc.?
    How about we just stop using coal because it's fucking terrible all around?

    Why do we need a climate change bullshit bogey man to get politicians to stop blocking natural progress?

    • Because:

      1. The status quo is a powerful force on both an economy and politics
      2. Debating real facts about the effects of certain types of human activity is important
      3. You don't know what "bogey man" means.
      4. Because coal is cheaper in the short term, not accounting for externalities, and climate change is becoming increasingly clear as an important one

      • by X0563511 (793323)

        5. Because everyone (for some hidden away more so than others) is a pyromaniac at heart, and FIRE!

    • Why do we need a climate change bullshit bogey man to get politicians to stop blocking natural progress?

      Well, mostly because you dropped an even bigger bogeyman into your argument - "nuclear". That word produces even more hysteria and foaming at the mouth than AGW does. By different people, mind you, since the people generally doing the most yelling that we need to do something about AGW tend to be the ones who panic at the thought of anything nuclear....

    • by NotDrWho (3543773)

      How about we just use nuclear power for most cases because it's more efficient, safer, etc.?

      Something tells me that the West won't exactly be thrilled with the idea of giving nuclear technology to every two-bit dictator and unstable, terrorist-haven, shithole country in the world--even if they pinky-promise never to upgrade their centrifuges to produce weapons-grade material.

    • 1. I'm not against nuclear but i'm not sure it's more efficient or safer than natural gas. Part of this may be due to the obstacles put in place by the enviromentalists, but it's a reality. 2. Electric cars may be simpler but with the current state of batteries it's doubtful they are actually more efficient. There is a reason they are so expensive. This wil l change and they will eventually take over (may be soon.) 3. Coal isn't all terrible. It's very cheap and we have a lot. It produces a LOT of
      • Erm ... why should electric cars not be more efficien? And what has that to do with the 'state of current batteries'?
        Batteries my hold not much, but certainly they are efficient!

    • Nuclear isn't safer. It's only 'safer' until something goes wrong. Every reactor built was built 'to never fail' and yet we found ways to make them fail. New reactor designs may be 'more' resilient to our innate ability to screw something up, but that doesn't make it 'safer'.

      Coal has massive 'operational' issues. It's failure scenarios are pretty mundane and localized.

      Nuclear has some operational issues (storing waste being the biggest) but the failure issues are the big ones. They occur infreque
    • by Jawnn (445279)

      Why do we need a climate change bullshit bogey man to get politicians to stop blocking natural progress?

      You keep using that word. I do not thing that it means what you think it means.

  • If we concentrate on fusion, not fission. Today there are a number of researchers who think that the theoretical problems of fusion have been solved enough that all we need to do is invest money in actual hardware. But the existing entrenched interests keep opposing such investments. Well, that's what THEY say, anyway. But they are certainly right that fusion, when perfected, will be less problematic than fission, especially with regard to wastes.
    • Fusion will be great when and if it happens. California will probably be underwater by then, at least if you believe in the boogeyman version of global warming.

      In order to survive long enough to eventually develop some amazing energy source, we need to take action now, using power plant designs we can ramp up today and have reliable energy. Natural gas releases half as much CO2 as coal, so that's one improvement. Nuclear fission is awesome except for the worries about safety. Well, we've had nuclear for m

      • Fusion is the energy of tomorrow... and always will be
        • Yes fusion is the energy of tomorrow. And the best fusion reactor we have is called the sun. And we can begin harnessing it whenever we want.
      • The problem about nuclear is not about how many people it has killed, but about how many it will kill.

        Some people want to hide nuclear waste deep in the mountains, hoping it doesn't harm them. I think this is a very stupid thing to do, as one day perhaps we will figure out how to get rid of nuclear waste (like having cheap safe rockets to send it to sun), and then need it. We know far too few about geological stability to decide for this step.

        Don't take me wrong -- I think nuclear fusion is a great technolo

        • Your post is based on a slight misunderstanding of radioactivity, a misunderstanding that guys like Patrick Moore of Greenpeace purposely created to trick you. Since founding Greenpeace, Moore has realized he was foolish to BS people and he's changed his tune. Moore now says:

          Within 40 years, used fuel has less than one-thousandth of the radioactivity it had when it was removed from the reactor. And it is incorrect to call it waste, because 95 percent of the potential energy is still contained in the used fu

          • The radioactive cesium released by Fukushima has a half-life of about forty years. That's short enough to be a real problem and long enough to take centuries to mostly go away. (Heck, radium's about sixteen hundred years, and nobody wants to handle that directly.) The radioactive iodine has gone away, every single atom of it. While there's a certain amount of truth in what you say, there are radioactive substances that are quite dangerous for long periods of time.

  • Here's what your future will look like if we are to have a shot at preventing devastating climate change

    The West Antarctic Ice Shelf has already begun its collapse, guaranteeing us 10-12ft of sea level rise over the next 50-200 years (only the timeframe, not the result, remains in question). We have officially lost our "shot at preventing devastating climate change".

    We do, however, still have a shot at preventing the necessary abandonment of every major coastal city on the planet, by avoiding another
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by ScentCone (795499)

      We have officially lost our "shot at preventing devastating climate change".

      Nothing we could have done in the last 100 years would have made a bit of difference with respect to what you mention.

      Well, except possibly for doing something to reduce eastern population booms by a few billion people. The couple hundred million people in the west with the economic latitude to pursue the type of stuff laid out in TFA won't make a bit of change, relative to four billion people digging coal in China, sprouting up on the subcontinent, overgrazing in Africa, and plowing down rainforest in

    • by cbeaudry (706335)

      YOU are seriously the kind of person we do NOT need in these discussions and debates.

      "The sky is falling, we are all going to die... aaaaaiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!"

      SHUT THE FUCK UP.

  • I'd drive a cheap-to-run car with torque like a supercharged V8 and my electricity would come from sources that put out their radioactive waste in neat chunks instead of slowly spreading it out the top of a smokestack!? This awful socialist future is going to ruin us all!!!

  • by gurps_npc (621217) on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @02:04PM (#47417835) Homepage
    The real problem is not energy generation, but energy storage. So research into better batteries (mainly fuels by laptops and cellphones) can save us.

    Because the real benefit of the fossil fuels is the high density of the stored energy.

    Give me the technology to build a battery that can power an electric car for 500 miles, and ...

    Electric cars can now work for 99% of the population - all running on power they store overnight/while at work.

    Solar can now store enough to last not only through the night but also through a cloudy day.

    Wind based energies can now store enough to get through some calm days

  • by Onuma (947856) on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @02:04PM (#47417845)
    Oh great...that means we're fucked.
    • No shit. I would have put it more like this:

      "different approach to international diplomacy"

      in other words: Ain't Gonna Happen.

  • If you want local solar to play any part in this future, it might help to restructure the power grid (at least in the USA).

    The way things are currently setup, residential solar can only get pushed around the local grid.
    This can be changed, but it's expensive. So obviously it's not popular.

    • by unimacs (597299)
      This is just a question. Transmission losses are significant. Why would you want to transmit small amounts of power over long distances anyway? Why not use it locally?
    • Which is why we need energy storage. The utilities really need to be more about grid/storage, than about general production. With storage, and smaller grids.
  • A portion was left out of the summary. It is by mid-century that we'd see a big change over it the type of generation, not in 15 years. For the US, a renewable heavy, carbon capture heavy and nuclear heavy scenario were looked at. The energy security heavy scenario developed in "Reinventing Fire" by Amory Lovins was not explored. http://www.rmi.org/electricity [rmi.org]
  • A 15 year plan exists in rough outline. [blogspot.com]. Yes, it is extreme but then if the climate crisis worsens to the degree predicted by some, and action is delayed as it appears it will be, there will be very little time to geoengineer remediation.

  • Almost every gasoline car sold in America today can go 300 miles on a tank of gas and in 10 minutes be refueled to go another 300. So most people don't rent cars. If the car rental companies come up with some kind of monthly fee based car rental program targeted towards electric car owners, it would be creating a new market segment for itself. May be a 10$ a month plan that gives you access to cars/pickups at some fixed rate. Or a 20$ a month plan that gives so many rental-days which get accumulated in the
  • by jphamlore (1996436) <jphamlore@yahoo.com> on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @02:17PM (#47418013)
    Fifteen years for a dramatic ramp-up of nuclear power anywhere outside of China?! Not possible. I believe the United States long ago lost the ability to manufacture key components to even make a nuclear reactor and its containment vessel.
    • And yet, we have new reactors in our subs and aircraft carriers that are 100% manufactured here.
      So, you lost that argument.

      HOWEVER, if you said that Westinghouse and GE, which sold their units, are now manufactured in Japan and China, that would be correct.
      BUT, B&W along with GA, actually do their work here.
  • When I see something which says "In 15 years the world will be like this", I think "My, what drivel", and move on.

    From what I've seen in my lifetime, futurists and prognosticators are usually dead wrong, clueless, and writing little more than fiction.

    It offers a sobering conclusion: We might be able to pull it off. But it will take an overhaul of the way we use energy, and a huge investment in the development and deployment of new energy technologies. Significantly, it calls for an entirely different approa

    • When I see something which says "In 15 years the world will be like this", I think "My, what drivel", and move on.

      From what I've seen in my lifetime, futurists and prognosticators are usually dead wrong, clueless, and writing little more than fiction.

      It offers a sobering conclusion: We might be able to pull it off. But it will take an overhaul of the way we use energy, and a huge investment in the development and deployment of new energy technologies. Significantly, it calls for an entirely different approach to international diplomacy on the issue of how to combat climate change.

      In other words, it will require the impossible, need huge sums of money, depend on a level of consensus and cooperation unlikely to happen, and a near complete re-tooling of societies.

      Blah blah blah.

      Especially since it takes 15 years+ to get a Nuclear plant off the ground in the US... In order for this to happen, every single power provider in the US would have to submit plans to build Nuclear reactors this year. It's not going to happen, especially with large natural gas reserves and low natural gas prices.

  • Solar panel prices are falling through the roof, scratch that, there is no damage to the roof. Some studies show that SolarPV might deliver electricity cheaper than grid in 25 states [cleantechnica.com] in just two years. Energy storage price break through is likely to happen first to homes than cars because storage for home does not have weight, volume and crashworthiness constraints. Already utility companies are worried and doing what they do best. Lobby the local government and utility commissions.

    But one sure fire way

    • The do not push it because they do not make money on it. SImple as that.
      And we need to quit trying to force it down their throat. There are BETTER ways to make things happen.
  • As much as I agree that we need to reduce carbon emissions, these recommendations are a recipe for disaster. The USA research team, for example, recommends something like a 50% reduction in per capita energy intensity by 2050. That is flat out incompatible with human nature in a healthy economy and society. I neither want my children to live in a world ravaged by carbon pollution, nor do I want them living a life of energy poverty. Any sensible solution would avoid both outcomes by greatly expanding the ava

    • We can do it and in fact, are doing so.
      We have switched over our house to LEDs (which I bought most of the bulbs for less than 10 each) and now see our electric usage has dropped by about $5-10 / month (about 50-100 KWH savings each month).
      In addition, we have Solar on our roof and sell back our excess to the grid.
      We are now getting ready to buy a Tesla Model [XS].

      There is no doubt that my family's usage is going down.
      What is needed is for us to get all of the nation's usage down, and it is easier t
  • I just got back from Shanghai where the pollution haze limits visibility to a couple of miles. In Beijing it's down to a few hundred yards most days. Let me know how the relative climate impact of electric cars in the US vs the economic impact and compare with the climate impact of 1/3 of all cars sold worldwide being in China in 5 or 6 years from now and I bet almost all of them will be gasoline powered. The international economic competitive impact to all electric in the US would be huge compared to the

    • When OCO2 starts taking measurements, the world is in for a REAL jolt.
  • by WindBourne (631190) on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @02:38PM (#47418283) Journal
    We need to do several things in the US to help ourselves, as well as push other nations.
    We would be better off stopping subsidies on solar, and allow wind to expire in 2 years. Instead, we should now focus those subsidies on nuclear power (our own), along with electricity storage.
    Then require that all new construction below 5-6 stories will have on-site AE that will equal or exceed its HVAC usage.

    In addition, we need to put a tax on all consumed goods (including those shipped from overseas), based on the MAX CO2 that went into make it. The tax should start low and raise every 6-12 months. This will give time to all nations and states to make long-term choices.
    Basically, the tax is applied to all goods, unless you register where it and its parts come from. Then if you get the parts from nations/states where the CO2 is lowest, you get lower taxes.
    To make sure of the CO2, rather than the wild estimates that we have, we use the OCO2 which will show emissions production, along with movement, around the world.
    Finally, to normalize it, we use $ GDP / tonne of CO2. The higher the $GDP, the better.

    The above is all that is needed to force us to change, and give us time. Not just America, but all nations since America is the world's largest importer.
  • It seems to me that only a single path is being considered - to reduce CO2 emissions.

    In reality there are numerous other potential paths, none of which are being evaluated. This kind of blinkered approach reminds me of certain southern politicians. How about bringing some real science and economics to bear on choosing the best response to global warming?

  • In 15 years we couldn't even switch over to all LED lighting instead on incandescent. And as the "Rolling Coal" jerks have appropriately pointed out, any attempt at legislating environmental changes versus "lifestyle" changes will be met with extreme civil disobedience. You might as well be asking to take away their guns.

    We are doomed. Earth will survive, but we will not. But hey, it doesn't matter as long as kids get to stare into their cellphones all day twittering. Oh, wait, there's no cell phones anymor

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