Agriculture Science Smackdown: Key Points On Renewable & EV Revolution From Mark Jacobson

Published on January 2nd, 2014 | by Zachary Shahan


Science Smackdown: Key Points On Renewable & EV Revolution From Mark Z Jacobson

January 2nd, 2014 by  

I just recently ran across this video below. I actually shared it not long after it was published, but that was a year and a half ago. The video includes excellent talks by Mark Z Jacobson, Mark Ruffalo, and Marco Krapels. The portion of Mark Jacobcson’s presentation on why we need cleantech is perhaps the best I’ve seen on that topic, but I’m not going to highlight that part today — watch the full talk (embedded at the bottom of this post) if you want to see that. In this article, I just want to highlight some of the cleantech and energy points that I think need to be spread much further. They address numerous myths and misunderstandings that I see pop up repeatedly in comments on our articles and elsewhere. For each point, I’ll link to the place in the video where Mark starts talking about that topic, so that you can share those links with others any time you run into such a need. (By the way, in case you aren’t aware, Mark Jacobson is director of the Atmosphere/Energy Program at Stanford — a position you don’t get without doing tremendous scientific research — as well as a professor of civil and environmental engineering there.)

Wind, Water, & Sun: Best Overall Solution To Global Warming, Deadly Pollution, Reliable Energy Needs, and Disaster Protection

Battery-Electric Vehicles Are The Key Transportation Solution: 4–5 times more efficient than internal combustion (gasoline) engines for powering your car. “The best way to reduce your energy consumption is to use an electric vehicle.” (Note: better would actually be a bike or your own two feet, but if you’re going to use a car, an electric car is best.)

Why Not Nuclear: 9–25 times more pollution per kWh than wind; risk of meltdown (1.5% of nuclear reactors to date have melted down to some degree); risk of nuclear weapons proliferation; unresolved waste issues.

Why Not Clean Coal: 50 times more CO2 emissions per kWh than wind; 150 times more air pollutant emissions than wind per kWh; requires ~25% more energy, thus ~25% more coal mining, transport, and related pollution than normal coal.

Why Not Ethanol: Same or more air pollution as from gasoline (from corn and cellulosic ethanol); Corn E85 = 90–200% CO2 emissions of gasoline; Cellulosic E85 = 50–150%  CO2 emissions of gasoline; wind–BEVs = <1% CO2 emissions of gasoline; enormous land and water use requirements for ethanol.

Why Not Natural Gas: At least 50–70 times more CO2 and air pollution per kWh than wind power; hydrofracking causes land and water degradation; methane leaks a leading cause of Arctic ice loss over next 20 years.

Wind, Water, Solar Rocks: Would reduce world energy use from 12.5 TW in 2010 to 11.5 TW in 2030 (compared to 16.9 TW with current fuel mix). Aim: 50% wind, 20% solar PV, 20% CSP, 4% hydro (70% in place today), 4% geothermal, 1% wave, 1% tidal.

Powering 100% of US Onroad Vehicles: cellulosic E85 versus corn E85 versus nuclear+BEVs versus wind+BEVs versus solar+BEVs versus geothermal+BEVs. Solar & wind + BEVs = great solution.

Tremendous wind & solar resources could power the world dozens of times over.

Can wind, solar, and water really match electricity supply with demand when it’s needed? Yes.

What about key resources needed? Have ~7 times more neodymium than we need for wind; with current known resources, need have enough lithium for about 3.3 billion vehicles, have about 800 million vehicles on the roads at the moment.

What about cost? WWS much cheaper than current mix even with a minimum estimate for externalities.

Summary: WWS solution would eliminate 2.5 to 3 million air pollution deaths; eliminate global warming; provide energy stability; and be much cheaper than the current energy mix. Land requirements = 0.4% and 0.6% for spacing. (Currently, about 40% of the world’s land is used for cropland and pasture for grazing.)

If you’re into Mark’s totally stat-filled presentation, share this! If you’re into the WWS solution, head on over to The Solutions Project and sign on to help out.

Here’s a super quick summary of The Solutions Project: “In June of 2010, a scientist, an actor, a banker and a filmmaker were sitting around a table discussing their opposition to the current methods of extreme energy extraction. This brought on an important realization – it’s not enough to simply be against something. The answer lies in the solution to the problem. That day, Mark Jacobson, Mark Ruffalo, Marco Krapels and Josh Fox gave birth to The Solutions Project. Our Mission: Use the powerful combination of science + business + culture to accelerate the transition to 100% renewable energy.”

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) one letter at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor. Otherwise, he's probably enthusiastically fulfilling his duties as the director/editor of EV Obsession, Gas2, Solar Love, Planetsave, or Bikocity; or as president of Important Media. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, energy storage, and wind energy expert. If you would like him to speak at a related conference or event, connect with him via social media:, .

  • Andrea@VibrantWellnessJournal

    As if there we not enough reasons to suffer this massive crush on Mark Ruffalo!!! Sheesh.

  • Omega Centauri

    “methane leaks a leading cause of Arctic ice loss over next 20 years.”
    Where did this claim come from? I’ve never heard it, and think it is just plain wrong.. Acrtic ice loss is driven by overall global warming [mainly CO2](and associated changes in air flow and ocean currents), and maybe by increases in black carbon fallout on snow/ice. There is concern due to feedbacks from warming that permafrost will start to release more methane, but that wouldn’t be called mathane leaks, it would be called a feedback.

  • drkennethnoisewater

    “Why Not Nuclear: 9–25 times more pollution per kWh than wind; risk of meltdown (1.5% of nuclear reactors to date have melted down to some degree); risk of nuclear weapons proliferation; unresolved waste issues.”

    • JamesWimberley

      My vapourware will solve all your problems at negligible cost. Trust me!

      • drkennethnoisewater

        You’re not referring to tech that was developed, tested and proven in the early 1960s, are you? Cuz all the materials and engineering is already established, all it requires is some modernization and legal/NIMBY/incumbent-dealing bullshit.

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