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Climate Deal: US and China Join Paris Climate Accords (bbc.com) 163

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes the BBC: The US and China -- together responsible for 40% of the world's carbon emissions -- have both formally joined the Paris global climate agreement... It will only come into force legally after it is ratified by at least 55 countries, which between them produce 55% of global carbon emissions. Before China made its announcement, the 23 nations that had so far ratified the agreement accounted for just over 1% of emissions. This will put pressure on G20 nations over the weekend to move faster with their pledge to phase out subsidies to fossil fuels...
There's a G20 summit starting on Sunday, and the BBC's environmental analyst reports that the accord "will just need the EU and a couple of other major polluters to cross the threshold." Its ultimate goal is to stop global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius -- "well above the aspirational 1.5C heating that the UN accepts should really be the limit" -- though U.K. researchers report that already 2016 temperatures may be rising 1.1C above pre-industrial levels.
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Climate Deal: US and China Join Paris Climate Accords

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  • Hooray! (Score:5, Informative)

    by PvtVoid ( 1252388 ) on Saturday September 03, 2016 @11:48AM (#52821469)

    Now please quit arguing that since China isn't doing anything, there's no point in the U.S. doing anything either. Fact is, the U.S. and China together are responsible for more than 38% of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than the EU, Russia, India, Japan and Brazil combined. We have a unique responsibility in the fight against global warming.

    • It is very surprising to me that the two largest manufacturing economies produce the largest amount of greenhouse gas. I would have figured Iceland or maybe Switzerland.
      • by kenh ( 9056 )

        It is very surprising to me that the two largest manufacturing economies produce the largest amount of greenhouse gas.

        At the risk of being flamed for not picking up on the (obvious) sarcasam - Really?

    • by Kohath ( 38547 )

      You seem to have talking about doing something confused with actually doing it.

      • Looking at this Obama trip to China, it looks like they did a lot more talking (or arguing? Can't ever really tell when most Chinese men are arguing or just talking) than they did doing. Tensions between China and the US are really really high these days, and very little is said about it in the media. I suspect WW3 will happen within the next 20 years, right after I pay off my house.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    How Does the United States Ratify Treaties?

            "The President...shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur..." Constitution of the United States, Art. II, Sec. 2

    [http://www.childrightscampaign.org/why-ratify/how-does-the-united-states-ratify-treaties]

    • by johanw ( 1001493 )

      Perhaps it's just a trick: Obama: I wanted to ratify but the evil congress didn't let me.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Correct, and since this wasn't ratified by the legislative branch it's nothing more than a gesture by the executive branch...same with China. This is a handshake, smile, and photo-op...that's it.

    • I have recently heard that several colleges and private institutions consider quoting the US Constitution to be hate speech and a microaggression. Someone's sensibilities might be offended!

  • by epine ( 68316 ) on Saturday September 03, 2016 @12:12PM (#52821595)

    though U.K. researchers report that already 2016 temperatures may be rising 1.1C above pre-industrial levels

    Anyone who has ever done the classic experiment of heating ice water while recording the temperature increase will know that the word "already" has no place here.

    The temperature dynamics of the earth's biosphere are a Rube Goldberg contraption. It's not even clear that adding heat couldn't lead (for some period of time) to a temperature decrease.

    For example, let's suppose that the gas trapped in the permafrost was not methane, but a methane-like gas that promotes a net global cooling (under the condition of maximal sustained release); however, the net cooling effect is not evenly distributed, the permafrost at the poles continues to melt, this entrenched source of anti-methane is ultimately exhausted, and then the earth's temperature begins to warm again, now in a rapid rebound.

    This story is not even a huge change in the particulars as we found them.

    Just imagine if scientists were presently gasping in alarm at a global cooling of 1 degree C which presages (in accepted theory) a rapid rebound in the other direction. Then we'd be writing (perhaps correctly) that we've already experienced a fatal 1 degree C of cooling en route to an impossibly dire 2 degree C global warming.

    The word "already" is being used here to cue the naive reader into the lazy presumption that we can cast off the nefarious ashes of system theory, and bust out instead narrative compass and straightedge.

    No. We. Can't.

  • by blogagog ( 1223986 ) on Saturday September 03, 2016 @12:12PM (#52821597)
    To be ratified, Congress must vote for the accord. That has not happened, and likely will not any time soon.
    • by schwit1 ( 797399 )
      Without Senate passage the accord has no binding authority in the USA. The House has no constitutional role in treaty ratification.
      • What he said is correct. Because generally speaking the Senate comprises half of Congress.

      • Without Senate passage the accord has no binding authority in the USA. The House has no constitutional role in treaty ratification.

        Not true at all.

        The House has no role in the constitutionally-defined form of treaty ratification, but that's not the only kind there is, and not even the kind that is used most often. The US engages in three different kinds of international agreements, all of which look like treaties to the rest of the world:

        1. Sole-executive agreements. These are cases where the treaty commitments fall within the scope of the president's authority. The most common example is Status of Forces Agreements (SoFA), where t

    • by doom ( 14564 )

      To be ratified, Congress must vote for the accord. That has not happened, and likely will not any time soon.

      Maybe we need a new Congress. Trump is working on that one.

      Treaties and accords are nice, but we can make progress even without them. Obama's "Clean Power Plan" essentially puts the EPA in the business of enforcing a cap-and-trade system. The hang up there is legal challenges, not congress.

  • China needs to be brought under control QUICKLY. The idea that they be allowed to build out 50 GW of new coal plants every year until 2030 is just plain STUPID. As it is, they are NOT at 33%, but are close to 50% OR MORE of emissions. Go look at OCO-2 sat. You can see how much they emit.
    • by doom ( 14564 )

      China needs to be brought under control QUICKLY.

      Right. Time to attack. You can lead the ground troops.

      Here's an idea: why don't we let them figure out that they've been killing themselves with air pollution, and they really need to clean up their act. It could be they'll even start doing some pilot plants to do research into nuclear technology where the United States has dropped the ball. Oh, and it could be they'll start playing around with manufacturing photovoltaics as well.

      • Here is a better idea: America taxes our consumed goods based on what nation/state the worst sub-part comes from. Start it low and raise every 6 months. Normalize on emissions /$ gdp and use satellites to monitor all nations and states. With this approach, every nation will lower theirs, or keep it low .
        • Thats hillarious.

          Go ahead and do that, and see how people react when everything they buy, I mean almost EVERYTHING will go up in price by 6 to 20% (depending on your tax).

          • Wrong. Base tax starts off low, and raises slowly but surely, for 10 years. Let's say it is at 5%: 1)If a good comes from say Sweden with 100% parts from there, the company registers it, and there is no tax. 2) if same good changes a sub-part to coming from California, the tax might by 10% of 5% or .5% 3) now change that part coming from Texas. That would be around 60% of 5%, or 3%. 4) obviously, if part comes from China, that would raise it to 100% or 5%. If we raise at 1% each month, or simply 5% each 6
    • by jcr ( 53032 )

      China needs to be brought under control QUICKLY.

      They're a nuclear power, sparky. How exactly do you propose to bend them to your will?

      -jcr

  • by blindseer ( 891256 ) <blindseer@earthlink . n et> on Saturday September 03, 2016 @01:09PM (#52821767)

    When it comes to carbon footprint the top two on energy produced per greenhouse gasses emitted are hydroelectric and nuclear. Wind and solar are close behind. So close that if anyone wants to argue with me on this I'll call them all equal, perhaps I'd even grant wind and solar a 10x lead because even then nuclear is so much better than coal and oil. Geothermal is up there somewhere too but, like hydro, it is highly location dependent. Wind and solar are still location dependent but much less so. There are few places we cannot put nuclear.

    Then there are lives lost per terawatt hour produced. Nuclear gets 0.04 lives lost per TWh produced, and this includes Fukushima, Chernobyl, and deaths by mining uranium. Rooftop solar has 0.1, wind has 0.15, hydro has 1.0 (mostly due to China, 0.1 otherwise), with the world average around 47, mostly due to coal, oil, and natural gas. Again, even if we take the nuclear number and multiply it by 10 it is still not bad compared to the rest.

    When it comes to costs I'll take average numbers from the EIA because I feel like it and I found their numbers real quick. Nuclear is $95.2/MWh, conventional coal is $95.1, hydro is $83.5, peaking natural gas is $113.5, combined cycle natural gas is $75.2, wind is $73.6 onshore and $196.9 offshore, Solar is $125.3 for PV and $239.7 for thermal. Nuclear doesn't have a 10x advantage here but If someone wants to argue the numbers I'll grant a 2x advantage since then it still beats out the unreliable wind and solar in many cases. What I will not do is allow claims that wind and solar prices will improve but nuclear will not. If we grant that future technology improvement grants a better price for one energy source then we should be able to assume an equal gain on any other energy source. This is especially true if discussing any technology that turns heat or mechanical motion into electricity since nuclear power uses those just as much as wind or solar thermal.

    Then it comes down to whether or not we can actually build it all. I saw a comparison on these energy sources based on a cubic mile of oil. This comparison spreads the construction over 50 years, and if we assume a 50 year lifespan of these power sources then it turns into a continuous rate of construction. We'd need one new 900MW nuclear power plant every week. 200 new 18GW hydroelectric dams every quarter. 1200 new windmills every week with 1.65MW capacity each. For PV solar we'd need to cover 250,000 roofs per day with 2.1kWh capacity each.

    Here's where I think the final nail in the coffin on the idea that we can replace coal with wind lies. To replace coal with wind worldwide would require 10 billion tons of steel and concrete, and current annual production is 1.5 billion tons. Wind requires over 500 tons of steel and 1000 tons of concrete per MW installed, about ten times that of nuclear, coal, or gas. I got most of these numbers from the EIA and from Morgan Stanley.

    I've heard people claim it is impossible for us to produce one new nuclear power plant per week worldwide. I call bullshit because nuclear power takes no more resources than coal or natural gas and we are currently building them at a similar rate. Arguments against nuclear on costs in lives and dollars also go out the window to anyone that does an honest analysis. Comparing nuclear to wind on resources required makes nuclear look so much easier. I tried to do a similar analysis on solar but my calculator doesn't do numbers that big.

    I've largely ignored issues like reliability, location restrictions, etc. that count against wind and solar because I don't have to go there to make my point. If someone wants to argue about nuclear being unreliable but wind and solar can be predicted then I'll go there, but you'll lose.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Two points

      1. I cannot put my own nuclear plant beside my house. I can put solar panels on my roof.
      2. There is an idea to diversify our sources of energy. Please stop talking in absolutes like "replacing coal with wind".

      • by blindseer ( 891256 ) <blindseer@earthlink . n et> on Saturday September 03, 2016 @02:14PM (#52821993)

        1. I cannot put my own nuclear plant beside my house. I can put solar panels on my roof.

        That's true but if you and some like minded people get together to pool your money you'd have that nuclear power plant, which would give twice as much energy per dollar. This is not a plan for the individual since an individual is not producing those solar panels, it's a large corporation made of many people pooling their resources.

        Also, I'm not arguing that you should not be able to put solar panels on your roof. What I'm pointing out is the comparative costs of these energy sources, in dollars, lives, and CO2 released into the air. If you want solar panels then you need to know what you are getting into. Don't put up solar panels because you think you'll save humanity from itself, you won't. Don't put up solar panels thinking you'll save money, unless you live in a highly optimal location. Do it because it takes you off the grid and independent from it, or whatever else you might be trying to do.

        2. There is an idea to diversify our sources of energy. Please stop talking in absolutes like "replacing coal with wind".

        I mention the case of replacing coal with wind because that is what I've seen people claim we can do, or at least replace coal with a mix of wind, solar, hydro, or whatever else is "green" where wind is a large portion of that. Take the numbers I've found and scale them as appropriate to fit your vision of the future and see what you get. Even if we assume we can replace 10% of "dirty" energy with wind we'd still have to double our annual output of steel and concrete to meet the demand that much wind power would create.

        I see a future where nuclear makes up something like 50% to 80% of total energy demand. The rest would be a mix of wind, hydro, natural gas, and a small bit from solar. We will not rid ourselves from coal for a very long time but if CO2 reduction is the goal then nuclear power is the best choice we have right now.

        It is possible that some future technology will make nuclear look bad by comparison but we don't have that technology yet. If we wait for that technology to come then we are just making a bad problem worse. I'm not a big believer in CAGW because that is a trio of things that have to pile up just so for this to be a problem we can fix. First we must have global warming. The globe may be warming, or it may not, we don't know what the future holds. We've already seen a 15 year "pause" in warming and the "pause" may end soon, or it may not. If there is global warming then we must still prove that human activity is causing it. This may be something easier to prove but then it comes to the last part. We still don't know if this global warming can be considered "catastrophic" or not. We might see many places become inhospitable but the world already has many inhospitable places, there's a chance we'd be just moving them around. That would suck for many people but people can move and at the rate it's happening people might barely even notice. It's possible that we'd make the world better for us.

        Even if catastrophic anthropogenic global warming does not happen I believe we still have many reasons to move to nuclear power. The air quality in China is a good example on why we should do so.

      • by doom ( 14564 )

        I can put solar panels on my roof.

        You can also ride a bike, eat less meat, buy less manufactured consumer crap, and take it easy on the heating and air conditioning.

        If your idea is that the tiny percentage of well-heeled, enlightened consumers willing to experiment with rooftop solar is going to save us from global warming, I beg to differ. The kind of effort we need at this point isn't just a "manhattan project", it's not even a "space race", it's more of a "world-war II build-up", and good luck getti

    • by doom ( 14564 )

      Then there are lives lost per terawatt hour produced. Nuclear gets 0.04 lives lost per TWh produced, and this includes Fukushima, Chernobyl, and deaths by mining uranium. Rooftop solar has 0.1, wind has 0.15, hydro has 1.0 (mostly due to China, 0.1 otherwise), with the world average around 47, mostly due to coal, oil, and natural gas.

      That's a good stat to have at hand, where's it from?

    • A nuclear plant takes a lot more concrete and steel than a natural gas plant. A NG plant can range from a small building containing a single turbine upwards. The nuclear plant will contain the reactor dome, fuel storage, control area, and if there isn't a large source of water nearby, a cooling tower. And the reactor dome will use lots of specialized concrete to deal with radiation and contain any possible releases. Of course new ones now have to handle attacks such as an airplane being flown into them.

      T

    • You should have used a nuclear-powered calculator.

      Do your figures for wind and solar include government subsidies?
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      How does nuclear look if you change the metric to "lives significantly damaged"? It's hard to find stats but Fukushima alone is at least 300,000 by conservative estimates.

      Does your costing include accidents? Fukushima decommissioning alone is looking at being around $100bn, and the compensation costs have not even got to court yet.

      It also depends on the country. The UK's nuclear is way more expensive, and there are not many places it can be built. Offshore wind actually compares pretty well already.

      • How does nuclear look if you change the metric to "lives significantly damaged"? It's hard to find stats but Fukushima alone is at least 300,000 by conservative estimates.

        How many of those 30K "lives significantly damaged" were the result of Fukushima, and how many were the result of the Earthquake and Tsunami?

        However, it should be noted that more people have died, just in the USA, just in the 20th century, than even your worst case for nuclear (counting "significant damage" against "death") worldwide....

        • ***sighs*** Way too early in the AM.

          Insert "mining coal" after "have died" in the previous post....

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          All of them. I was only counting the people displaced by the evacuation zone and directly effected by the nuclear disaster. About 1,000,000 more were the result of the earthquake, about half being evacuees.

      • How does nuclear look if you change the metric to "lives significantly damaged"? It's hard to find stats but Fukushima alone is at least 300,000 by conservative estimates.

        The Fukushima reactors that were damaged were old designs that were months or even days from being retired and dismantled. We don't build them like that any more. It's like you are saying we should stop building automobiles because you just read Unsafe At Any Speed from 1966.

        It's impossible to compute "lives significantly damaged" as how would one define "damage" or even "significant"? An easy metric is deaths because death is a very final and binary state. From that we see with nuclear power, even with

  • I'm really glad everything is solved now and we won't have to listen to climate change alarmists any more. Congrats guys. You can stop spending your time on prophetic doomsday storytelling and go out and do something productive now -- if you can somehow find a way to produce anything of value without using any energy.

  • The USA isn't bound by any treaty until and unless it's ratified by the Senate.

    -jcr

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