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Earth Science Technology

Technology's Role In a Climate Solution (thebulletin.org) 173

Lasrick writes: If the world is to avoid severe, widespread, and irreversible impacts (PDF), carbon emissions must decrease quickly. Achieving such cuts, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, depends in part on the availability of "key technologies." But arguments abound against faith in technological solutions to the climate problem. Electricity grids may be ill equipped to accommodate renewable energy produced on a massive scale. Many technological innovations touted in the past have failed to achieve practical success. Even successful technologies will do little good if they mature too late to help avert climate disaster. In this debate in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, experts from India, the United States, and Bangladesh address the following questions: To what extent can the world depend on technological innovation to address climate change? And what promising technologies—in generating, storing, and saving energy, and in storing greenhouse gases or removing them from the atmosphere—show most potential to help the world come to terms with global warming?
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Technology's Role In a Climate Solution

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  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Friday October 23, 2015 @12:00PM (#50788067)

    >> Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, experts from India, the United States, and Bangladesh

    No China? Well, then, enjoy your BS session.

    • If people had the same attitude toward human rights as they do toward climate policy, we'd do away with them because North Korea won't participate.

    • by Ichijo ( 607641 )

      Why can't we take the lead instead of waiting for China?

    • While being far from perfect, the Chinese have made actual effort and sacrifice to reduce pollution of all types. American corporate lobbyists are still trying to convince us that there simply is no problem (while seeking to exploit the receding glaciers).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 23, 2015 @12:01PM (#50788081)

    Here is a quote direct from the "article":

    "The United States and Canada must reduce their energy consumption by about 90 percent; Europe, Australasia, and Japan must do so by about 75 percent. Cities must shrink drastically and energy differentials between urban and rural areas must disappear. Localism must be prioritized and governance decentralized. Uniform risk and emissions standards must be implemented for everyone."

    Is it any wonder no one sane takes you global warming nuts seriously at this point?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "Climate change" has become it's own religion and a dangerous one that seeks to control people that do not agree.

      I agree with you that the statement you posted from the article is asinine and unachievable. One thing not really mentioned by mainstream media is this: there are several leading "climate change" scientists who advocate somewhat quietly for population control, which itself leads to manner of evils. Really take a look at China and their one baby rule. Women there are literally been dragged to abor

      • Evidence from weather satellites has shown no new warming for almost 18 years.

        Here are some fun graphs: http://www.columbia.edu/~mhs11... [columbia.edu]

        Looks like a fairly linear increase when I hold a straight-edge up to the screen starting around 1970. No new surprises I guess?

        Aside from all that though, a climate change religion doesn't sound so bad. Give a little money to the "church" and in return you get an insurance policy. The population is getting close to the estimated carrying capacity of the Earth. Once we get there, any major crop die-off would lead to starvation problems. Why should

        • Evidence from weather satellites has shown no new warming for almost 18 years.

          Here are some fun graphs: http://www.columbia.edu/~mhs11... [columbia.edu]

          Looks like a fairly linear increase when I hold a straight-edge up to the screen starting around 1970. No new surprises I guess?

          Aside from all that though, a climate change religion doesn't sound so bad. Give a little money to the "church" and in return you get an insurance policy. The population is getting close to the estimated carrying capacity of the Earth. Once we get there, any major crop die-off would lead to starvation problems. Why should coffee drinkers spend money on bombing tea drinkers when we could instead invest that money to ensure that both coffee and tea keep growing?

          Set your plot of linear warming alongside global CO2 concentrations. CO2 concentrations have also been rising linearly that entire time. If even the more moderate projections of warming are true, warming should be accelerating as CO2 increases. The fact it is not is suggestion/evidence that our climate sensitivity to CO2 may not be as high as feared.

      • There are plenty of ways to reduce population growth without going authoritarian. For example, educating women, giving them greater equality in regards to career opportunities and social mobility, and access to birth control.
        • Yeah, but that has a delay of 1-3 generations(or 10-30 years if you prefer). A one child policy will have a lag of half a year to two years.
          And thats another thing to consider: Waiting is annoying for a ruler. Even for a democratically elected one.

    • 90%? It's never going to happen.
      • Yeah, that's the problem with AGW.....to actually do something substantial (get CO2 down to 350 ppm, [350.org] for example) we need to take drastic measures.

        Think about the changes we would need to make to society in order to begin removing CO2 from the atmosphere. Building a few solar plants (or even putting solar panels on everyone's roof) is not enough.
    • by Jawnn ( 445279 )
      So... because it is something you don't want to hear, it's "insane". Got anything else, you know, like an even half-assed reasoned argument? No? Didn't think so.
      • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

        Dropping energy consumption by 90% is not insane, per se. It's just not going to happen.

        Now what would be insane would be some sort of government action that seeks to try to force that consumption drop no matter what.

        We need to find another way, or accept that we're going to have some flooded coastal cities. A sudden drop of 90% consumption would probably end all pretense of modern civilization unless it was offset by extremely significant technological advancement. And means not just first world problem

      • by khallow ( 566160 )
        A sane response would be to consider other more achievable levels and the cost/benefit of each one. Pushing only one option, which no one is going to do at these catastrophic reductions in economic activity, is insane in the sense of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
      • Advocating destructive implausibilities is insane.

      • Whats insane is how its presented. Since its a very deep case and all.
        In a society, there is a lot of things. Even ignoring how many social classes there are, and how they consume, consumers do not use a lot of energy. Most will go to food production, trade, production, mining, refining, assembly.
        Before "you" even have a chance of doing anything, most of the things that needs to happen goes in on several levels over you. Even something as basic as light, which brings significant industrial benefits to popul

      • What's insane is mandating an across-the-board cut of 90% - and saying you need a smaller Government at the same time. It's going to take a massive, highly-centralized and all-powerful Government to implement that change.
    • by Applehu Akbar ( 2968043 ) on Friday October 23, 2015 @02:48PM (#50789351)

      "The United States and Canada must reduce their energy consumption by about 90 percent"

      No, we need to reduce our carbon emissions by that much.

    • Is it any wonder no one sane takes you global warming nuts seriously at this point?

      It may be news to you, but governments, global companies and international organisations all take global warming seriously, even if they don't agree about the ways to tackle the problems. One this I find very strange is this: When I say that we have to learn to build a sustainable economy, because there are limits to growth, people always say 'No, no, new techology will save the day, our economy will always grow'; but when I say that we have to ackle the climate change problems, we just need to move to sust

      • To tackle the climate changes, the adjustments required are much smaller, and most of them are things that we can easily live without anyway

        I'm not quite sure you understand the issue.

        They are saying the US has to reduce its energy consumption by 90%.

        That is not a "small adjustment", that would require getting rid of most of our cars, getting rid of HVAC, and living in much smaller homes.

        If you think that is likely to happen, then you don't understand people very well.

    • There are too many people. We could easily reduce our ecological and energy footprint if we allowed our populations to shrink (through natural processes over the course of a few generations, I'm not advocating large-scale slaughter). As long as we maintain policies designed to boost population size (such as massive benefits instead of extra taxation for children, as well as unlimited immigration) our resource usage will grow.

      Interestingly, so-called "green" parties tend to be hugely in favor of immigration.

    • Can't we just have the governments of the world assign all the underutilized female STEM workers (you know, all the ones employers aren't hiring frequently enough, judging by our weekly /. articles) to dedicate themselves to creating solutions to global warming?

      Or hey... we could just wait until the scientific "consensus" catches up with reality...

    • "The United States and Canada must reduce their energy consumption by about 90 percent; Europe, Australasia, and Japan must do so by about 75 percent.

      I mentioned that to my wife tonight and her simple reply was, "well that isn't going to happen".

      She would be correct, we are simply not going to turn off the AC, stop driving our cars and trucks, and live in small 1,000 sqft homes.

      Since that isn't going to happen, we probably should start preparing for the future that is coming, rather than wasting efforts that won't change the outcome.

  • Use a super sophisticated algorithm to remove the "adjustments" [wattsupwiththat.com] that are introduced into satellite surface temperature datasets that artificially show exaggerated global warming..
    • by KGIII ( 973947 )

      Now, I am not a climate scientist and I won't offer an opinion on this subject at this time. I am, however, a proud holder of a doctorate in Applied Mathematics. In my subset, I worked specifically with traffic modeling. Now, when you have a bunch of data, consider I was working with TB sized data sets in the 90s if you will, you often need art as much as you need science.

      How to put this into easy words...

      See, we take a data set and crunch it up in a bunch of different ways - then we go and observe reality.

  • by sinij ( 911942 ) on Friday October 23, 2015 @12:17PM (#50788189)
    All of this is surprisingly achievable by expanding electrical grid and moving to all-nuclear energy generation. Unfortunately, opposition from the green movement to nuclear doomed us to pursuit of ineffective solar and wind solutions.
    • What does technology choice matter when we (in the US) propose to only cut CO2 to 2005 levels by 2030? And we can't even agree on that. We will have to get very aggressive with every technology and efficiency improvement available, and many countries won't have the resources to help much.

      http://www.denverpost.com/news... [denverpost.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tomhath ( 637240 )
      But that wouldn't involve massive wealth transfer from Western countries to Third World countries, which seems to be the main goal of this organization.
    • Wind and solar are far from ineffective. They're growing exponentially, year on year, and costs are coming down rapidly, they're already far below nuclear power's costs in many places.

      Nuclear... isn't effective. It's expensive, inflexible, and *dangerous* technology.

      Sure, few people usually die from nuclear accidents like meltdowns... but only because people leave, in large numbers. Saying it's not dangerous is like saying fire isn't dangerous if you leave immediately, and don't let it burn you, and then yo

      • by sinij ( 911942 )
        Are you willing to live with brown-outs? Because otherwise your wind and solar is just building out natural gas power stations.
        • Brownouts aren't likely; but grids of all and any design do sometimes brown or black out.

          Up to about 20-30% wind/solar, brownouts are largely a non issue- the backup power already built into the network is enough to fill in the extra power.

          Going forward, as the existing generating plant wears out, much of the coal plant on many networks is being converted to gas, which has a lower carbon footprint, and is somewhat more flexible, the plant is otherwise mostly paid-off, and hence cheap. It's still wearing out

  • Virtual Reality (Score:5, Insightful)

    by monkeyxpress ( 4016725 ) on Friday October 23, 2015 @12:17PM (#50788191)

    Seriously, people just have a huge appetite for consuming junk. We've created a whole economic/social/political system predicated on consuming more and more junk. It keeps people under control as they slave away doing pointless stuff to get other pointless stuff. I don't see how you can break that system right now without risking massive social stability issues.

    • Also that system is the envy of a lot of people in India and China, and they'll burn a lot of coal to achieve something similar.
    • I'll bite, and provide a counterpoint.

      Why, oh why on earth would we want to get rid of consumerism? It's what's driven the amazing, comfortable lives we now lead and the amazing products we can buy. The ever increasing demand is what has led to almost every innovation imaginable in technology, because people are competing for those sales. I am by no means rich but I do buy a lot (no debt), and I can't fathom the argument that these things are pointless or do not make my life better. Just some at the t
  • According to this talking llama, the UN already has a plan to defeat climate change, and everyone has already agreed to it. So I'm not sure why people think climate change is still an issue...

    We Have A Plan [youtube.com]

    If I understand correctly, poverty is also going to be eliminated.

  • We need to stop looking to to fix something and work on the obvious ... clean our environment up as much as possible, stop dumping chemicals, etc, into it wherever possible but any kind of plan to reverse it is futile. The climate will continue to change indefinitely so beyond trying to do less damage our focus should be on adapting to a changing climate. This planet is a living ever changing thing and if the way that we are living is going to be irreparably damaged by a few inches or even a few feet of oce
    • Climate change is going to be bad for the planet on average (especially food production) and the costs of adaptation would be worse than the costs of prevention. I encourage you to do your own research for a source, if you're interested in facts.

  • And Asian countries do NOT care.

  • future generations (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gillbates ( 106458 ) on Friday October 23, 2015 @01:15PM (#50788649) Homepage Journal
    Future generations will marvel at the fact that we burned coal to illuminate empty highways at night. It will seem unconscionable that much of the power generated in the destruction of our environment allayed only the most trivial of concerns, if it served any useful purpose at all.
    • by owski ( 222689 )

      allayed only the most trivial of concerns

      Heating, cooling, cooking, clothing, sanitation, medicine, education... yes, only the most trivial of concerns.

  • by nightfire-unique ( 253895 ) on Friday October 23, 2015 @01:45PM (#50788889)

    Aside from being unachievable, we should be asking ourselves as a species: is it even a good idea to try?

    The amount of energy we "use" (ie. convert) today will register as noise relative to what we will be using in 1,000 years from now (should we survive). We've reached the age, as a species, where we need to be focusing on the long-term, as well as the short-term. If we're to survive past the next mass extinction event, we're going to have to keep the technology advancement train a'rollin. There is no going back, and there's no reason to go back.

    We should each strive to reduce our impact on the planet, our resources, and each other. We should build efficient machines, and use them efficiently. We should stop burning coal, gas, and oil, and generate our electricity through a blend of hydro, nuclear fission, solar, wind, and geothermal. These are all short-term achievable, and healthy for our civilization.

    But we should not be compromising our ability to convert enormous amounts of energy, nor the effort we put into developing this technology. For one day, we're gonna need it.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      We should each strive to reduce our impact on the planet, our resources, and each other. We should build efficient machines, and use them efficiently. We should stop burning coal, gas, and oil, and generate our electricity through a blend of hydro, nuclear fission, solar, wind, and geothermal. These are all short-term achievable, and healthy for our civilization.

      Achievable? About 2/3rds of energy production today is non-renewable. Population will grow from 7 billion to 10 billion just by the fill-up effect, that's 43% up. If the average energy consumption per capita of the world should match the US energy use will quadruple. And why should the rest of the world give a shit when the US doesn't?

      So deliver 100*1.43*4.00 = 572% the current energy output with 100*1/3 = 33% of the current resources. And most those resources are quite fixed and location dependent, you can

      • we're going to burn every reasonable source of fossil fuels no matter how green you live

        Quoted for truth...

        Short WWIII breaking out, Earth being invaded by aliens, or a mass plague killing off 90% of humanity, we're going to burn every last drop of oil we can find, every lump of coal, and every foot of natural gas we come across.

        We might do it a bit faster or slower, some nations might burn more than others, but at the end of the day, we're going to burn it all.

  • If the world is to avoid severe, widespread, and irreversible impacts (PDF), carbon emissions must decrease quickly.

    There are two problems with this supposition. First, that it is correct in its characterization. The IPCC has consistently exaggerated existing research (example [slashdot.org]) and uncritically incorporated bad research (original "hockey stick" paper) in order to spin this very tale. Second, they ignore that humanity has other priorities than just curbing greenhouse gases emissions (such as reducing poverty - current mitigation efforts have a nasty side effect of increasing poverty which in turn can make mitigation harde

  • There's asteroids out there that present a very real danger to us. Take, for instance, 2015 TB145 (http://echo.jpl.nasa.gov/asteroids/2009FD/2009FD_planning.html) which was discovered two weeks ago and in a few weeks will pass by the Earth within 1.3 lunar distances. Thar is an unbelievably near miss. And we never saw it coming.

    Instead, billions are wasted on "fighting climate change". Designing a planetary alert and defense system seems to me to be a much higher priority... otherwise there won't be a c

  • There are several ways we can use technology to promote effective climate action:

    First, we need to put an immediate stop to the UAH and RSS satellite measurements of surface temperature, or at least publication of the results. None of our models is able to explain why the temperatures haven't continued to rise as precipitously as we expected after the 90's. The pause is an embarrassment. Ergo, the pause doesn't exist, and we don't want to hear any more about it. The science is settled, OK?

    Second, w
    • First, we need to put an immediate stop to the UAH and RSS satellite measurements of surface temperature, ...

      Of course the satellite measurements are not measuring the surface temperature but rather the lower troposphere which is a rather amorphous blob somewhere above the surface. And if you think they're adjusting the hell out of surface temperature measurements you should see what they have to do to derive temperatures from measurements of microwave emissions of O2 molecules. The satellites are replaced every 5 - 7 years, they have decaying orbits and the sensors decay over time.

      This is already underway, as Michael Mann is suing Mark Steyn for his aspersions about the hockey stick.

      Mann is suing Steyn for compar

  • The solution is obvious: Nukes. Lots of nukes.

    What else would your expect from atomic scientists?

  • Because "technology" with its associated carbon footprint is going to lower atmospheric CO2 concentration and increase O2 concentration to get the atmosphere back in balance, Sure, wake me up when that happens.
    If only there was a machine that could convert CO2 to O2, sequester the carbon *and* require no electricity to use.
    Oh wait, they're called trees. But those won't earn consulting fees for pundits and are decidedly "unsexy" to report about.
    My prediction? People will screw it up with these thinly-disgui

  • We are doomed because we are all cows.

    Say, "Moo," cows. Moooooo...

    We are ALL cows. The climate change deniers, stupidly repeating rhetoric and falacious logic. The ecologists, hoping beyond hope that regulations and social programs can save us. The technologists, egotistically believing their brainpower will find a fix powerful enough to overcome all the natural processes that are already in progress, and that fix will actually get implemented. The oligarchs, selfishly believing their manshions, safe rooms, private armies (which we euphemistically call police departments), and even their compounds in the southern hemisphere will protect them. ALL are cows, wandering blindly toward the slaughter. A slaughter of our own mutual creation.

    Because we, as a species, did not have the wherewithal to collectively say, "Fuck That Shit!" when those with a little bit more power and bigger sticks told us to fight others to get more stuff for ourselves, unknowingly giving even more power to the top stick-haver... Because we let someone convince us that we even needed or wanted that stuff in the first place... we have facilitated the social and technological machinery that has inexorably brought us to where we are now: in a bizzarre, collective mix of all four stages of death at the same time.

    But that death will come, regardless of what any of us want or believe or try. I hate to say it, but the only way out would be if 90% of the world population just died off. And we all know that isn't going to happen. So, the only thing left to do is to, as contentedly as we can muster, given the circumstances,...

    Say, "Moooooo."

  • I know it's considered heresy in the church of CAGW to say this, but climate models are still very uncertain about trends for future warming. The 'consensus' within the modelling community is that the models are very good tools for testing out our understanding of how climate works. They're predictive reliability is another matter entirely.

    The IPCC that the CAGW church heralds for it's Nobel Prize on climate change says the following on climate models. Go see for yourself here [www.ipcc.ch] under Box 9.1 if you don't bel

  • This is why I don't believe most national governments, "green" activist groups or political parties are serious about tackling global warming. If they were, we would be spending serious money on nuclear fusion research -- beyond just ITER, I mean. We need a Manhattan Project for fusion, an Apollo Program for fusion. But we don't have one. The only reason I can figure is that the people in charge don't really want to solve the problem. That would derail their gravy train. Why spend $200 million on a re

  • what promising technologies --- in generating, storing, and saving energy, and in storing greenhouse gases or removing them from the atmosphere --- show most potential to help the world come to terms with global warming?

    I'd wait for more proof that Temperature follows CO2 before I'd rearrange civilization.
    I'd let CO2 get even higher, because plants love it and I love plants. Do you love plants?

    But with enough carbon-neutral electricity and heat anything is possible, even CO2 sequestration on a grand scale.
    But only bring CO2 down to pre-industrial levels if you really hate plants.

    Thorium Remix 2011 [02:23:49] [youtube.com]

    "Every time mankind has been able to access a new source of energy it has led to profound societal implications. H

  • The fact is, the sensationalism and sheer, unadulterated emotion invested in global warming has completely obscured the fact that we don't know how much of the current warming trend is human-caused. All we know is people are desperate to doctor the data to support their conclusions, and write computer models that invariably reflect their own biases, not one of which has ever produced results that have in any way matched reality over the last 25 years. Even true believers like Hockey-stick graph guy Michael

  • Any advocate to reduce carbon output that also dismisses nuclear fission power is ignorant, insane, or has motives other than saving the planet.

    Of all the technologies available to us this article advocates moving to solar PV, which is probably the most expensive energy source we have outside of burning diesel fuel. If you want to see an environmental disaster then tell people they have to rely on photovoltaic panels for power. As energy costs rise people will be crawling all over looking for something to

  • If the world is to avoid severe, widespread, and irreversible impacts (PDF), carbon emissions must decrease quickly.

    Disregarding, arguendo, the issue of whether there's a problem or not, where is it engraved that reduced carbon emissions is the only solution? I've seen a number of other possibilities put forward, including carbon sequestration and increasing the Earth's albedo via induced cloud formation. Taking a solution as given is an approach that's as antithetical to problem solving as I can imagi

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