100% Renewable Energy Is Feasible and Affordable, According to Stanford Proposal

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concentrating solar powerOne of the greatest promises of the high-tech future, whether made explicitly or implicitly through shiny clean concept sketches, is that we will have efficient energy that doesn’t churn pollutants into the air and onto the streets.

But here in the present, politicians and even many clean energy advocates maintain that a world run on hydrogen and wind, water and solar power is not yet possible due to technical challenges like energy storage and cost.

Yet Stanford University researchers led by civil engineer Mark Jacobson have developed detailed plans for each state in the union that to move to 100 percent wind, water and solar power by 2050 using only technology that’s already available. The plan, presented recently at the AAAS conference in Chicago, also forms the basis for The Solutions Project nonprofit.

“The conclusion is that it’s technically and economically feasible,” Jacobson told Singularity Hub.

The plan doesn’t rely, like many others, on dramatic energy efficiency regimes. Nor does it include biofuels or nuclear power, whose green credentials are the source of much debate.

vehicles-WWSThe proposal is straightforward: eliminate combustion as a source of energy, because it’s dirty and inefficient. All vehicles would be powered by electric batteries or by hydrogen, where the hydrogen is produced through electrolysis rather than natural gas. High-temperature industrial processes would also use electricity or hydrogen combustion.

The rest would simply be a question of allowing existing fossil-fuel plants to age out and using renewable sources to power any new plants that come online. The energy sources in the road map include geothermal energy, concentrating solar power, off-shore and on-land wind turbines and some and tidal energy. All but tidal energy collectors are already commercially available.

“The greatest barriers to a conversion are neither technical nor economic. They are social and political,” the AAAS paper concludes.

Common political wisdom has it that, while clean energy is a nice idea, powering our economy with wind, water and solar power would require an enormous amount of land allotted to production and would push energy prices up beyond the reach of average consumers.

But according to Jacobson and his colleagues, the reverse is true. Less than 2 percent of United States’ land mass would support all of the wind, solar and hydroelectric power generation required to meet energy demand. That includes the space between concentrating solar arrays or wind turbines.

Clean energy would save an average American consumer $3,400 per year than the current fossil fuel regime by 2050, the study lays out. That’s because the price of fossil fuel rises regularly, but with clean energy — where raw materials are free — once the infrastructure is built, prices would fall.

off-shore-wind-turbinesFor example, in California, the researchers found that it’s already possible to use wind, water and solar energy to meet demand 99.8 percent of the time. Similarly, in other states, it’s only the final percentages or fractions of percentages that would require technologies that are not yet mass produced, such as, in Louisiana, wave “mills” that turn the ocean’s power into electricity.

With the mercurial climate already causing major damage around the world, the plan claims it would save the U.S. economy $730 billion a year in climate-related costs. It would also avert roughly 59,000 lives deaths from air pollution every year and save $166 – 980 billion a year in health care costs.

Jacobson has previously mapped out a similar proposal for the global energy market, including China. A related plan with a greater emphasis on efficiency was recently released by the World Wildlife Fund.

Both domestically and internationally, transmission lines carrying energy between states or countries prove one of the greatest challenges. With natural energy sources, electricity needs to be more mobile in order to make sure that even when there’s no sun or wind, a city or country can import energy from somewhere were there is.

The biggest problem is who should pay to build and maintain the lines.

“I’m pretty sure the proposal will be adopted,” Jacobson said. “I’m just not sure it’ll be adopted by 2050. It has to be adopted in the sense that fossil fuels are limited and they’ll eventually run out, so what are the other options?”

Note: This article has been corrected. A previous version said that the proposal includes hydrogen made from natural gas. It does not.

Photos: Tom Grundy and Dabarti CGI via Shutterstock.com, infographic courtesy Mark Jacobson

Discussion — 77 Responses

  • Gear Mentation March 8, 2014 on 11:32 am

    By 2030, solar will be cheaper than fossil fuel and batteries will be good enough to run your car… and your house overnight. Are we to believe people won’t convert on a massive scale without any government intervention? And we don’t need 100% conversion. 90% or 80% would be fine. Industry, also, will want cheaper electricity, and so will convert. It’s a done deal, the obstacles will melt away. Also, it snowballs once it starts to get going, as with the utilities in Germany. So it’s already happening, and the USA will be like Germany in 2025.

  • Jason Williamson March 8, 2014 on 1:30 pm

    Unfortunately, the issue isn’t purely technical, but also political. There are a lot of entrenched interests that must be overcome before this solution is feasible. Transitions of this scale will benefit from public investment and participation, so swaying this side of the equation is an important consideration. Not impossible – but we should factor this into the discussion.

  • Jim Gravelyn March 8, 2014 on 2:08 pm

    “The proposal is straightforward: eliminate combustion as a source of energy, because it’s dirty and inefficient. All vehicles would be powered by electric batteries or by hydrogen, where the hydrogen is produced through electrolysis by using natural gas.”

    Unintentional comedy I guess. “Eliminate combustion” but use natural gas to do it. I almost spit my Cheerios on my keyboard. I guess the natural gas burning in my furnace is NOT renewable but the natural gas used to produce hydrogen to burn in my car IS renewable.

    • Gear Mentation Jim Gravelyn March 8, 2014 on 4:53 pm

      LOL

      • Mike Conley Gear Mentation March 8, 2014 on 11:36 pm

        Looooove your avatar image!

        • Gear Mentation Mike Conley March 9, 2014 on 11:57 am

          Thanks :D

    • pobbs Jim Gravelyn March 9, 2014 on 12:58 pm

      oh man, please make a habit of RE-READING sentences that make you react like this…maybe just ONE MORE TIME, before you try to quote and criticize. Yeesh.

      • Jim Gravelyn pobbs March 9, 2014 on 1:03 pm

        Maybe you could be more specific about what you think I got wrong.

        Or maybe you can’t.

        • Jonhoops Jim Gravelyn March 9, 2014 on 1:24 pm

          where the hydrogen is produced through electrolysis RATHER than natural gas.

          • Jim Gravelyn Jonhoops March 9, 2014 on 1:52 pm

            Well, they have changed the article, apparently in response to my comment. (I guess I should feel honored that the writer felt so threatened.) But they needn’t have done so – I’m pretty sure the original wording, wherever they copied it from, was more accurate and referred to the process by which hydrogen is separated out of natural gas. Mostly that is done by steam heating the natural gas, but it is also done through electrolysis. That’s where most of our hydrogen supply comes from – natural gas – not from water. The process ends up with carbon as a waste product, which hardly solves the problem of Global Warming if you believe in such nonsense.

        • ozimandias Jim Gravelyn March 10, 2014 on 7:14 am

          How would it make any sense if the wording you quoted was the real wording? You cannot use electrolysis AND natural gas. You either quoted it wrong, or they corrected the article – trying to claim it is incorrect now is just wishful thinking on your part.

          There is no way to combine electrolysis and natural gas to make hydrogen that I am aware of: electrolysis of water are used to make hydrogen gas. The article got the information from a study performed on how to use all renewables, and surely they didn’t simply forget using natural gas to make hydrogen isn’t renewable.

          • Jim Gravelyn ozimandias March 10, 2014 on 7:53 am

            You not exactly computer literate, are you? Do you seriously think I quoted the article by re-typing the words letter-by-letter? This is 2014, not 1970. We quote by copying and pasting. The quotation you see in my original message is what the article originally said. As for your comment about electrolysis, sometimes electrolysis is used during the steam heating method of extracting hydrogen from methane. I don’t know why. I’m not a hydrogen production expert. I assumed that must be what the original wording referred to.

  • Lithian March 8, 2014 on 11:23 pm

    If this subject happens to be of great interest to you like it is for me then I suggest you to watch the “Post Scarcity” part of this video (link below), you’ll need to skip ahead to 30:59.

    The video talks about everything from how much land mass would be used for renewable energy’s to vertical farming land usage and the amount of food it could produce. None of what is shown is future tech either, it’s a display of what could be done at our current technical level. I hope you find it as fascinating as I did.

    • Lithian Lithian March 8, 2014 on 11:40 pm

      *NOTE*
      I can’t seem to edit my post so just take note that if you do take a look at the video you might want to skip to 37:30. That’s when it start talking about the things I described before.

  • Mike Conley March 8, 2014 on 11:29 pm

    Global warming is changing wind patterns. What happens when we site wind farms along the Northern Tier, and it becomes the Northern Doldrums?

    Molten Salt Reactors (MSRs) can be sited virtually anywhere at all. They don’t need water cooling, they can’t melt down (the fuel is already in a molten, or melted, state) and they can’t blow up (they operate at atmospheric pressure.) A damaged or destroyed MSR would have a mess measured in square meters, not square kilometers. The liquid fuel cools into a solid blob of rock, chemically locking all the nasties inside. You’d have a messed up reactor building, not a messed up county.

    MSRs can be configured to run on thorium, which we have plenty of. And we’ve already mined it: It’s in the tailings of our abandoned Rare Earth mines. The mines were shut down through an over-abundance of caution, because thorium is (very) mildly radioactive. The direct consequence is that China now controls 95% of global Rare Earth supplies, which are vital for all high-tech products, including wind turbines, which require 1,000 lbs of neodymium magnets in their generators.

    Our high-tech factories moved to China to have access to the material. But if we re-open our Rare Earth mines, we could bring our manufacturing home, and we’d have all the fuel we need to run the plants, and the entire nation as well – regardless of how, or where, the wind blows.

    Google and YouTube: MSR, molten salt reactor, LFTR, liquid fuel thorium reactor, thorium energy

  • Mike Conley March 8, 2014 on 11:35 pm

    A similar proposal was proffered in late 2013 in Scientific American:

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/solution-to-renewable-energy-more-renewable-energy/

    This proposal relied primarily on wind. The proposal’s strategy is to deliver baseload power with renewables by overbuilding to compensate for the intermittency of wind and solar energy.

    But relying on wind in the years ahead would be foolhardy — wind patterns are changing from global warming, and predicting what the patterns will be 20-50 years down the road is just impossible.

    Can we afford to spend billions on wind farms and hope the Jet Stream doesn’t shift?

    Renewables are a nice idea, but I can’t imagine the country placing that much money on an unpredictable proposition.

    • Jim Gravelyn Mike Conley March 9, 2014 on 11:46 am

      Wind is not the answer, and it is a sign of how far Scientific American has fallen that they would publish an article claiming otherwise. I was a subscriber for decades, but finally grew tired of the leftwing claptrap and opinion injected into every article.

      Windmills are technology from the Middle Ages. There’s a reason why everybody abandoned them when the internal combustion engine was invented: http://www.jpattitude.com/111210.php

      • Gunto Jim Gravelyn March 9, 2014 on 3:54 pm
        • Jim Gravelyn Gunto March 9, 2014 on 6:32 pm

          Your source comes up with a much lower estimate of non-functioning wind turbines using methodology no better than the methodology he attacks. Let’s stipulate that we don’t know the exact number of wind turbines currently inactive. Thing is, whatever that number is, we know a few things that are not debatable: Germany and the Netherlands are abandoning them as expensive albatrosses, the UK and Australia are hotly contesting whether they make economic sense, and here in the U.S. the only way a wind turbine gets built is with massive government subsidies. When the writer at your link states that wind turbines make sense, he clearly demonstrates his own lack of knowledge about economics – things that make economic sense do not require government subsidies for fifty years.

  • Lawson ENglish March 9, 2014 on 12:44 pm

    Trying again:

    The Professors Meinel published this proposal nearly 45 years ago in the monograph _Power for the People_.. as a followup to their report commissioned by President Jimmy Carter.

    They proved that, with 1970 technology, it would be economically viable to provide the energy needs of the USA by 2070, using thermal solar energy farms.

    • Jim Gravelyn Lawson ENglish March 9, 2014 on 12:51 pm

      Turning an extraterrestrial energy source into electricity to run my refrigerator is pretty much what coal and natural gas do… without covering up hectares of land with unsightly solar panels.

      • pobbs Jim Gravelyn March 9, 2014 on 1:06 pm

        Jim, Jim, Jim…you thinking that coal and natural gas are pretty much extraterrestrial is…so ironic. Which planet’s terra did all those long-dead forests came from?

        • Jim Gravelyn pobbs March 9, 2014 on 1:16 pm

          You do understand the role of photosynthesis in the life cycle of the plants that decayed to make the coal, right? Well, that light doesn’t come from heat lamps in your basement marijuana farm.

          Someone (or random chance if you swing that way) seems to have set us up on a planet that serves as a giant solar power plant… unless, and I take this possibility seriously, hydrocarbons are in fact mostly abiogenic rather than derived from decayed plants. In that case, the miracle is even more impressive:

          http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2011-04/hydrocarbons-could-form-deep-earth-no-dead-animal-ingredients-study-says

      • Lawson ENglish Jim Gravelyn March 9, 2014 on 6:17 pm

        The question, of course is:

        are there reasons to embrace solar and wind energy that compensate for the unslightly solar farms?

        And… do you really think that regions that are strip-mined of their coal are less-unsightly than solar farms?

        The David Lynch Foundation and the TM university in Iowa sponsored a meeting of American Indian tribes concerning sustainability in the 21st century, including building solar/wind farms on tribal land.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ac8pnUVwa7U (President Clinton’s message to the conference)

        I don’t think that establishing coal mines on tribal land were ever considered feasible by any party involved.

        • Jim Gravelyn Lawson ENglish March 9, 2014 on 6:37 pm

          You, I’m guessing, would advocate a gradual transition from hydrocarbons to solar panels. I would suggest a gradual transition from coal to natural gas is cheaper, makes more economic sense, and will benefit the environment and the free economies of the world more than your preference. What’s more, my preference does not require government interference with its ensuing infringement on liberty. Let the frackers get the gas and undercut the coal miners on price – that’ll be the end of coal you want, the end of strip mining, etc.

          • Lawson ENglish Jim Gravelyn March 9, 2014 on 7:42 pm

            The decision that tribes might make in how to use reservation land isn’t dependent on governmental interference.

            All forms of energy production have advantages and disadvantages. Natural gas is obviously going to be part of the mix for the forseeable future and no doubt, coal, nuclear, wind, etc., will all have their place.

            the question is: how much should be invested for each form of energy production and why?

            I can make a case that methane-buring power plants might be an important energy resource in the future simply because the by-product of burning methane (CO2) has a lower greenhouse effect than methane itself, and there are HUGE methane reserves that are currently thawing around the world that need to be handled in some way and energy production might be the most cost-effective way of addressing the issue.

  • Alex Cannara March 9, 2014 on 8:35 pm

    This is Mark Jacobson’s ancient proposal, published a few years back in Scientific American and criticized by many scientists & engineers who know why it’s inadequate. Others at Stanford know better than Civil Engineer Jacobson, because they know wind ius a very inefficient, secondary source of energy, with huge land, resource and airspace demands.

    It takes 2000 tons of raw material just to build and install 1MW average wind power. Those 2000 tons (iron ore, coal, limestone, rock…) all require fossil-fuel processing. As a result, windmills are no better than dams, nuclear plants, or geothermal systems in terms of their construction carbon footprint. And, unlike true “renewables”, wind is subject to climate change. Hydro is, of course as well.

    Long ago, the Lewis Group at Caltech explained how all peak daytime power needs worldwide could be met by solar PV/hot-water installed on existing structures — no land conscription, no species threats, no transmission loss.. Solar PV is now ~20% efficient, with another doubling in the cards with future designs. Wind has no such improvement possible. In fact, wind as a worldwide resource has sbe shown, even using Jacobson’s data, to be pitifully wasteful of land/sea/resources…
    http://tinyurl.com/b7uboqe (Harvard meta-study)
    http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/8/1/015021/ (video, note graph axes)

    So windmills might generate 3 Watts per square meter, while local solar generates 200 today and 300-400 in a decade. Why wind? Jacobson has apparently staked a career at Stanford on it. Other of us Stanford folks, such as Nobel physicist Richter, aren’t impressed. What comes to mind for me, seeing Mark pushing so hard, is “The Music Man”.
    ;]
    Scientifically, there are only 2 “renewables”: solar and nuclear.

    The rest are subject to climate change, as our Colorado River dams now illustrate, as they struggle with half the runoff predicted from unusually-wet years decades ago. And the Chinese already see wind’s Achille’s Heel in climate change…
    http://spectrum.ieee.org/green-tech/wind/a-less-mighty-wind
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/21/us/21tttransmission.html?_r=1&hpw

    Solar is renewable until the sun goes red giant and gobbles us up in a few billion years. Nuclear is as renewable as the actinide elements & water present in any rocky/watery body in any solar system in any galaxy. Geothermal, by the way, is nuclear.

    Dr. A. Cannara
    650 400 3071
    http://www.thoriumremix.com
    http://tinyurl.com/7o6cm3u

  • Brad Linscott March 10, 2014 on 12:33 pm

    The best common sense energy plan is published in the book: “Renewable Energy: A Common Sense Energy Plan”, available at Amazon. Also check out the website:
    http://renewableindependenceenergy.com

  • Mark Calvin March 12, 2014 on 8:27 pm

    Sounds like more global-warming bullshit.

    • Alex Cannara Mark Calvin March 12, 2014 on 9:55 pm

      Don’t worry Mark, no one expects you to do anything but show up when the reparations checks are handed out.
      ;]

      • Brad Linscott Alex Cannara March 15, 2014 on 8:06 am

        As taxpayers we have been contributing our money for the development of wind turbines, since 1970. The purpose of this 44 year effort is to use wind turbines to produce electricity at rates that are competitive with large electric power plants. The DOE reported in their FY 2014 Congressional Budget Request the following: “…..unsubsidized wind energy is not currently “market competitive” with natural gas fired electric power plants.” How much longer will the taxpaying public continue to pay for a loser energy source?

        • Jim Gravelyn Brad Linscott March 15, 2014 on 8:24 am

          Ah, but don’t you see? Economic viability is “just around the corner.” I have talked to windmill lovers who honestly think windmills, for some inexplicable reason, follow a bastardized version of Moore’s law. That’s why they think viability is near and all will be wonderful soon. With the same blithe confidence they assume Moore’s law applies with ethanol production and solar power. Pointing out that it’s been 44 years will have no effect on such people.

  • Shapna Riyan March 12, 2014 on 10:59 pm

    True! Solar is the 100% renewable energy and it makes our environment pollution free and reduces risks of Global warming, Smog and Acid rain. Today, most homes and business industries are using Solar Panel for generating electricity.

  • Edward Peschko March 13, 2014 on 6:26 pm

    argh..

    this site seems to be eating comments, so here goes again.

    this guy is laughable – he’s the same guy that did a paper condemning nuclear power for being carbon intensive. why? because of all the burning cities in the hypothetical war he posited that would occur because of the scaling up of nuclear power. Source:

    http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/06/nuclear-power-can-have-lot-of-co2-when.html

    its quite morbidly hilarious that this guy has been given a podium to discuss his ‘vision’. it is dangerous in the extreme because politicians follow it and we put off the only true solution to our energy problems (hint it starts with ‘n’.).

    If you want a good inoculation to this dangerous meme, watch this video:

  • Matthew March 14, 2014 on 3:25 pm

    why is there so much anger in these comments…

    “Wind is not the answer, and it is a sign of how far Scientific American has fallen that they would publish an article claiming otherwise. I was a subscriber for decades, but finally grew tired of the leftwing claptrap and opinion injected into every article.”

    “Sounds like more global-warming bullshit.”

    whatever machine you think you’re raging against, you have it all wrong. there are things to be upset about. like when human rights and ecology are infringed upon. it’s like you’re possessed by too many oil and gas tv commercials and fake documentaries on the “history” channel. “world without oil” will not be an apocalypse, quite the opposite. but sure Einstein was totally in cahoots with aliens. you’re probably the same people who argue that schools need to change their textbooks into bibles too. do we go into church and say ‘it’s science time everyone replace your bible with these facts’ no. this is why part of why our educational system sucks. we teach propaganda and conspiracy theories as fact. we highlight the increasingly marginalized problems in the world and act like that’s all there is. our populous is paranoid and delusional. you all need to read a book on how these technologies are changing. it’s not the same windmills that we used in the middle ages. they are increasing in efficiency exponentially.

    taking one thing and ridiculing it, like the temperature of some local cool air a polar vortex created (which is caused by global warming melting the arctic), while many other parts of the world experience record highs is not only incorrect, but it VASTLY undermines the plethora of ways in which 7 billion people make an impact on this planet and increase the toxicity of our air/land/seas. people also used to say that ending slavery would ruin the economy. you know what would ruin the economy? a poisonous world incapable of sustaining life without human rights. we all want the same things there is no need to argue. the message is simple; human rights and ecology. get your heads out of your asses, update your bleak perspectives by reading some new books on these emerging technologies, and be a rational optimist. this cynicism cannot end soon enough. you will live to see the day where you are more at peace…

    • Matthew Matthew March 14, 2014 on 3:41 pm

      check this out:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-BbPBg3vj8#t=28
      looks like NOAA is in on the conspiracy too. that 26 year old satellite montage of arctic ice loss must just be a photoshop trick, and no ice ever melted. I guess the polar bears are just diving off the edge of that non existant ice and drowning themselves to extinction on purpose. they’re in on the conspiracy too. wake up people.

      • Jim Gravelyn Matthew March 14, 2014 on 5:33 pm

        Apparently you missed NOAA’s involvement in the Climategate scandal. Yes, they are in on the conspiracy.

        • Matthew Jim Gravelyn March 14, 2014 on 7:16 pm

          stop trolling.

          • Jim Gravelyn Matthew March 14, 2014 on 8:57 pm

            Answering you is trolling now? Any other words you’ve re-defined?

          • jmac Matthew May 14, 2014 on 3:33 am

            I would seriously do not waste my time talking to this guy. Even engaging someone like this in a conversation is going to make your IQ drop. I am amazed at how completely stupid some people are. Totally amazing! That level of stupidity is truly amazing. I am seriously in awe right now. Stunning. Absolutely stunning.

        • Matthew Jim Gravelyn March 14, 2014 on 7:23 pm

          stop assuming people are less intelligent than you. I have known about the e-mail “scandal” all along. there will be a marginal aspect of corruption in any organization that large. NOAA doesn’t exist solely to scare you. you need to relax. again… this completely undermines the argument in EVERYONE’S best interest which is we need to move away from fossil fuels and dedicate the increasingly marginal capital it would require for alternatives to take off. furthermore, we need to reign in an unspeakable number of ways in which 7 billion people impact this planet.

          stop spreading mass hysteria and provide any useful solutions whatsoever for the advancement of human rights and the environment, k thnx.

          • Jim Gravelyn Matthew March 15, 2014 on 8:18 am

            Your conclusion that it is in everyone’s interest to move away from fossil fuels is not supported by the evidence. That’s the point. And excusing NOAA’s malfeasance by saying there is some corruption in every organization ignores the fact that THIS corruption was organized between the world’s climatologists, including the National Climatic Data Center at NOAA, so the very basis of your errant conclusion lies upon unsure ground. The premature end of fossil fuels in the energy sector would be a disaster for every middle class and lower citizen on the planet, causing massive starvation and suffering and lowering of standards of living. All to support a fraudulent scientific hypothesis that seems to be unsupported by the data.

          • Matthew Matthew March 15, 2014 on 7:42 pm

            my point, jim, is that you need to relax. and that human rights and ecology are the most important thing. and that it would be more helpful to talk with each other and not at each other with insults.

        • Matthew Jim Gravelyn March 20, 2014 on 11:42 am

          ohey nasa is in on the conspiracy too. along with noaa and the suicidal polar bears: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2014/mar/14/nasa-civilisation-irreversible-collapse-study-scientists

          which of us is ignoring facts now? please enlighten me, you know more than noaa and nasa’s combined decades of empirical data.

          • Jim Gravelyn Matthew March 20, 2014 on 1:08 pm

            By “suicidal polar bears” I assume you’re referring to those big white bears in the Arctic whose population seems to be larger every time they count them. Or maybe you’re referring specifically to the dead ones some nincompoop took photos of a few years ago and posted online under the label “polar bears drowning because of global warming” which he later had to admit was total BS because he had no idea how the bears died. But even if they did drown, Matthew, I assure you it wasn’t because they jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge in despair.

          • Matthew Matthew March 21, 2014 on 12:49 pm

            golden gate bridge good one. let me guess your answer, more fossil fuels? lol.

          • Jim Gravelyn Matthew March 21, 2014 on 12:58 pm

            Don’t think of them as fossil fuels. Think of them as solar energy. The sun beams down, makes the plants grow, and then when they die they become hydrocarbons – Earth is a giant solar power plant (no pun intended). Instead of paying the Chinese to build solar panels with filthy materials in filthy pollution-spewing manufacturing facilities, we just stick a nice clean straw into the ground and suck out the handy hydrocarbons. Voila.

  • Alex Cannara March 21, 2014 on 4:34 pm

    Someone says think of fossil fuels as “solar energy”. There is no energy in combustion fuel without the combustion agent — try lighting a match on Titan, whose atmosphere is filled with ethane & methane.

    It took about 174,000 pounds of decaying plant matter, processed deep underground for about 700,000 years to make the oil from which we refine 1 gallon of gasoline.

    In addition, it took all that plant matter, properly sunlit & watered, to release the Oxygen into the air, without which the gasoline product is useless for fuel.

    In addition, releasing that new CO2 into the air & seas surpasses the natural carbon cycle’s ability to return the CO2 to proper seabed limestone sequestration — minor detail.

    We’ve swamped the planetary carbon cycle by a factor iof >1500 in just 150+ years. Here’s a brief description of the vast problem we now face…
    http://tinyurl.com/n2qnos6

    Global warming & sea rise are peanuts compared to extinctions of food chains only years away.

    • Jim Gravelyn Alex Cannara March 21, 2014 on 6:58 pm

      If I had a nickel for every time someone warned humanity was going to run out of food…

      And you can’t convince these people they’re wrong even when events prove they’re wrong. Look at Paul Erlich: he still stands by the predictions he made in 1968 even though he’s been proven wildly wrong. That’s pretty much the definition of insanity.

      • Alex Cannara Jim Gravelyn March 22, 2014 on 1:17 pm

        JIm, you’d have lots of nickels, but not enough to feed those who’ve suffered increasing malnutrition around the world.
        ;]

        • Jim Gravelyn Alex Cannara March 22, 2014 on 1:30 pm

          You mean the people who are malnourished because idiot greenies insist on using farmland to produce ethanol instead of growing food people can eat? You have to understand basic economics to realize that raising food prices by producing ethanol directly leads to starvation for those living on the edge of desperation.

          • Alex Cannara Jim Gravelyn March 22, 2014 on 1:39 pm

            Sure Jim, but there’s nothing green about biofuels, except the leaves & subsidies.
            ;]

          • Jim Gravelyn Jim Gravelyn March 22, 2014 on 4:45 pm

            I know that. You know that. Someone needs to tell the bureaucrats in D.C. Although telling them won’t help – at this point ethanol is just another government boondoggle with an entrenched welfare class (corn growers in this case) ready and willing to howl bloody murder if anyone tries to push them away from the government teat… sort of like windmill operators and installers are howling right now.

        • Matthew Alex Cannara March 25, 2014 on 3:01 pm

          wait wait wait now the world health organization is on on the conspiracy http://www.thewire.com/global/2014/03/air-pollution-linked-one-every-eight-deaths-new-report-finds/359487/

          along with noaa, nasa, the suicidal polar bears, and your 1 out of every 8 friends dying of nothing… they and a long list of others are ALL in on it. drill baby drill. good luck with that lung cancer though… dumbasses. fossil fuels need to end.

          • Matthew Matthew March 25, 2014 on 3:06 pm

            it’s getting ridiculous how people seem to think exacerbating a problem is a solution. 11 thousand people will die every year because of republicans preventing obamacare going through (why not solve a problem? no alternatives?) … up to 20 thousand die every single year from gun violence. and now 1 in 8 people dying from our abysmal air quality.

            let’s do the math. how many people died that one time in 9/11? 5 thousand? how many years since then? 13? 13 X 30k = 390 thousand americans dead since that one time in 9-11… I wonder what would have happened if those deaths were a result of an Arabian country’s nuclear weapons…

            priorities people…

            • Jim Gravelyn Matthew March 25, 2014 on 6:29 pm

              Number one, you cannot exacerbate a problem that does not exist, and the “problem” of Global Warming does not exist. Number two, Republicans did not prevent Obamacare from going through – it was passed in 2010 and now that it’s coming online we know it’s a friggin’ disaster – and since the U.S. had the best health care in the world before Democrats decided to destroy it, there was arguably no problem to solve there, either. As for your gun violence and air quality numbers, they are so whacky they don’t bear discussion. One in eight people are dying from poor air? Seriously?

          • Jim Gravelyn Matthew March 26, 2014 on 7:26 am

            Stop with the polar bears, Matthew. It’s ridiculous. It’s like you want them to be threatened by something so you have something to complain about. There’s an organization that counts the doggone things and the population has been increasing for decades. There’s so many of the pests they’re a constant threat to human beings. The one study that was used to justify the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listing them as threatened has since been invalidated: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/03/25/ooops-much-touted-2006-polar-bear-survey-used-by-esa-to-list-them-as-threatened-now-invalidated/

            I worked for F&W at the time, and I watched that decision and how it was made – graft, propaganda, and fraud was the underlying theme, not science. The lefties wanted an excuse to oppose every development project in the nation and they got it. Science had nothing to do with it.

  • Alex Cannara March 23, 2014 on 10:21 am

    The web jockey for this site needs to man up and make it work as more professional ones do — the email notifying of a new comment has a link that takes one to the scroll position of that new comment.

  • Alex Cannara March 26, 2014 on 2:03 pm

    JImG says: “you cannot exacerbate a problem that does not exist”

    Well, ok, unless you can make the problem “exist” first. See, the Kochs paid good money to agree with Jim, but exacerbated a problem for themselves they thought their $ would make not exist…
    http://newsbusters.org/blogs/noel-sheppard/2012/08/05/zakaria-asks-koch-brothers-funded-global-warming-flipflopper-have-the
    http://www.democracynow.org/2012/8/2/climate_skeptic_koch_funded_scientist_richard

    Oopsie, JimG.
    ;]

    Dr. A. Cannara
    650 400 3071

    • Jim Gravelyn Alex Cannara March 26, 2014 on 2:19 pm

      “Oopsie, JimG?” Why is it “Oopsie, JimG?” Next time, read your own link before you post:

      “As readers likely know, Muller’s “unbiased” research has been largely discredited by climate realists around the world.”

      So, the Koch brothers were hoping for some unbiased research but instead received more of the leftwing BS that is so typical of academia. At least that’s what your link says. The rampant fraud among the greedy grant-sucking leeches of academia is the reason we have this giant science scam in the first place.

      • Alex Cannara Jim Gravelyn March 26, 2014 on 2:28 pm

        Unfortunately for you, Jim, I do know the facts about Koch & Muller, and the Berkeley Whole Earth study has been supported, not discredited, by scientists.

        The argument you continually try to push here simply shows you as not being a scientist or engineer, otherwise you wouldn’t say silly things like fossil fuels are “solar power”.
        ;]
        But, if you want, you can take the bet no climate denier has agreed to take with me, not even Monckton, Nicol… It’s a simple, $5k bet you should be comfortable with, if you truly think fossil fuels are “solar power”.

        • Jim Gravelyn Alex Cannara March 26, 2014 on 5:31 pm

          If you are asserting that the Muller study’s conclusion is valid, you probably should not link to documentation that says it has been invalidated. I think that’s Rule Number 1 in the famous book, Debating for Dummies.

          If you actually are familiar with the Muller study you know that Judith Curry, a climatologist from the Georgia Institute of Technology participated in that study but would not sign the final version – Muller’s “conversion” version – and is very explicit as to why she would not sign:

          http://judithcurry.com/2012/07/30/observation-based-attribution/

          In short, Muller, in congressional testimony, implied that three different data sets all reached the same conclusion, either ignorant of the fact or hiding the fact that all three sets of data have the same source. Plus, as Judith points out in the above link, Murry decided to make a statement that is even more unsupportable than the laughable and thoroughly discredited IPCC. Add things up and use just a tiny bit of common sense and you realize Muller’s conclusion was never science based, but rather preordained politics-based. As, I would assert, is all Warmist research. These people are in it for the grants and professional advancement.

  • WhatTheFlux March 27, 2014 on 10:16 am

    @ Jim Gravelyn –

    Of course AGW is debatable. Anything in science is debatable. Science isn’t math. Science isn’t 2+2 = 4, it’s about a preponderance of evidence, like a civil suit as distinct from a criminal case.

    Even the link between smoking and cancer is still debatable. And if you want to keep smoking in the face of a mountain of evidence that points toward the link, knock yourself out. Bet the farm and keep lighting up. But people who breezily dismiss the mountain of evidence that points to AGW aren’t betting the farm, they’re betting the planet.

    And as to the “leftie conspiracy” you keep harping on — Do you really think that thousands of scientists all over the world have plotted for decades and assembled a library of data to finagle grant money and kill development and capitalism? And if that’s their actual intent, do you really think the best scam that all these big brains could devise was a secular religion about ice melt and cow farts? That flies in the face of a fossil fuel industry with $27 Trillion worth of provable reserves?

    Really? All those smartypants figured that was the best storyline they could cobble together and sell to a world utterly dependent on combustion for energy?

    A storyline like that would get an F in screenwriting 101. Or wind up as a headliner on InfoWars.com.

    • Jim Gravelyn WhatTheFlux March 27, 2014 on 12:19 pm

      I agree, the storyline is pathetic. But your description nails it. As for proof that there is a conspiracy, you need look no further than Climategate. No reasonable person can read those emails without concluding that there was a conspiracy to fudge the data as well as a conspiracy to silence dissent.

      Thank you, by the way, for admitting that there is a debate. Now will you please inform Obama and Kerry? They insist the debate is over.

      • WhatTheFlux Jim Gravelyn March 27, 2014 on 9:08 pm

        Jim –

        There is a distinction you’re not getting, between something being debatable – which includes nearly everything under the sun – and whether or not something is still worth debating.

        The theory of gravity is debatable, but we can use it and predict with it and do engineering with it. We still don’t totally know the exact mechanism by which smoking causes cancer. We don’t even know the exact mechanism by which aspirin acts as an analgesic. But we are confident in the preponderance of data on both subjects to quit fussing over the details and use the collective hunches that we’ve amassed.

        Smoking “causes” cancer, and we can safely use aspirin as an analgesic, within limited doses (although cannabinoids are far better, with no known lethal dose.)

        We can debate AGW until the cows come home and die from drought and heat stroke, but the preponderance of evidence is clear enough to take action now. That’s what’s meant by the debate being “over.”

        As for “climategate” – the only “news” sources that still consider it a bona-fide scandal are the right-wing gravity wells like WingNut Daily, InfoWars, Fox, Drudge, Rush, O’Really, etc. That was a faux scandal that was thoroughly debunked a long ago.

        • Jim Gravelyn WhatTheFlux March 28, 2014 on 8:10 am

          It was not a “faux scandal” thoroughly debunked. For you to claim it was, demonstrates your own political bias. You don’t want it to be true so you’re sticking your fingers in your ears and refusing to acquaint yourself with the facts.

          As for your contention that Global Warming is debatable but not worth debating… tell that to Judith Curry, the climatologist who we all stipulate IS debating it. Tell that to Roy Spencer and tell it to thousands of other scientists who are debating it. Tell that to the IPCC for that matter, because they must be debating it too after dropping the hockey stick and admitting many of the claims (Himalayan glaciers melting, hurricanes getting worse, rainforests dying, etc.) they made in their last report were bogus. Or did you miss those admissions, too?

    • Alex Cannara WhatTheFlux March 27, 2014 on 12:21 pm

      You’re always good for a laugh Jim. Apparently you don’t even know math is “the science in which we know not what we’re saying, nor whether what we say is true” — Russell.

      I’ll certainly not ever advise someone who dislikes facts to take up smoking just to win an argument.
      ;]

      • Jim Gravelyn Alex Cannara March 27, 2014 on 12:29 pm

        People forget that tobacco is a medicinal herb. I wouldn’t advocate a lifetime of smoking the chemical-filled crap our cigarette makers sell, but rolling your own can do wonders for inflammation and lung problems. I am that rare lifelong non-smoker who relishes the aroma in the smoke from good tobacco and would never complain about someone smoking in my presence… always a surprise in this day and age when smokers are treated like social pariahs.

        • Alex Cannara Jim Gravelyn March 28, 2014 on 1:20 pm

          Keep trying Jim! I never said warming was “dabatable”.

          But we’re still awaiting a list of all your degrees and engineering & scientific experience, so we might try to believe what you say.
          ;]

          • Jim Gravelyn Alex Cannara March 28, 2014 on 1:43 pm

            What in the world are you talking about?

  • Bsquared March 30, 2014 on 11:38 am

    1) Would this method require the use of land currently used for farming and ranching?
    2) What about national forest and parks would they have to be cleared? How much carbon is one tree able to naturally sequester?
    3) Who will pay to buy the land? Should the US government use eminent domain and confiscate the land?
    4) Would increasing the efficiency of solar and wind decrease the amount of land required?
    5) What would happen to your model if the average American rode a motorcycle instead of driving a car?
    6) What would happen if we worked from home using an internet connection instead of commuting to work?
    7) Is a train more efficient than a tractor trailer for transporting freight?