All Nations Meet In Paris To Make Hope, Not War

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The rest of the world has come along farther and faster on the subject of climate change than the United States, it appears. US nitpickers and politickers stand out from doubters of almost all others on earth in questioning the existence, sources, and assailability of climate change. However — polls confirm the majority of Americans seeing clear and present danger in the phenomenon, as do most other citizens of the world.

UNFCCC word cloud (

We’re on the cusp of Monday’s two-week all-nations meeting on what people can do to approach a changing world climate. As well as highly skilled diplomatic representatives of every nation, well more than half of earth’s heads of state will open the conference. This unprecedented opening signals the crucial nature of the outcome.

Thomas Schueneman of Triple Pundit and sees the event at root as a convergence of the issues of climate and prosperity. He’s right: if we blow it, we’ll have a dim future in both areas. From the meeting, emerging and initially developing countries want the strongest assurances possible that the cash needed to green their economies — promised at Copenhagen in 2009 by the world’s industrial and developed societies — will arrive during the next 15 years, and ahead to the half-century and 2100. If it does not, say scientists, the human race as we know it now will not survive.

The results of the summit, says the leading climate journalist Ed King in his publication Climate Home, will depend on how completely governments can balance two outstanding issues: finance and fairness. To these generalizations I would add a caveat. The impact of the United Nations meeting will reflect the fluidity of our situation in mid-December 2015. It may not seem clear to us at all. But in the end it will be the best we can to do to carve out the future given current circumstances.

It’s also a vital starting point from which to anchor further efforts toward universal tasks. Giving universal focus, it will guide us to make hope, not war, the next step, and the one after.

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16 thoughts on “All Nations Meet In Paris To Make Hope, Not War

  • These are historic times. Burning coal in your basement furnace is unthinkable today and will soon be the same for the rest of the world. In its place, natural gas is cleaner but questionable fracking methods and methane leaks makes it a transitional fuel source.
    Clean energy is inevitable and the sooner we get there, the less we will regret.

    • Hopefully we will have a rapid transition in the next 10 years. Now that we have reputable sources like Lazard saying solar and wind are the cheapest form of new energy we should see increased interest adoption. Now we just need the EIA to come out with reasonable price figures and game over for coal/gas.

      • If people in places like Canada can build low energy, net zero houses, office buildings (with- 40 to + 40 C) then so could the rest of the world.
        Our problem (humans) on a global scale is we waste too much, of just about everything, and once we reduce that waste it will be so much easier ti live sustainable.

    • The good thing about natural gas generation is that it is highly dispatchable. And CCNG plants are relatively inexpensive and install quickly so there is little accumulated interest during installation. If a utility wants to close down a coal plant and replace it a mix of solar, wind and CCNG makes really good financial sense.

      Wind Onshore
      $1.64 Installed Cost/Watt
      DOE 2014 Wind Technologies Market Report

      PV Solar
      $1.49 Installed Cost/Watt
      Greentech Media 2nd Qtr 2015 Executive Summary

      $1.09 Installed Cost/Watt
      Open EI DOE Database Median Overnight Cost

      For a bit over $4/Watt they can install a watt each of wind, solar, and CCNG. If the wind is blowing or Sun shining they can leave the CCNG plant turned off and save fuel costs.

      (And those are 2014 wind and solar costs. Both are down in 2015 and should be lower in 2016.)

      Just for fun, compare that with nuclear. If there are no more delays and cost increases for the Vogtle reactors their install costs will be over $8/watt. Twice the cost of the wind, solar and CCNG mix.

      • If you installed a mix of wind, solar and gas wouldn’t the cost be an average of the three different costs (depending on the ratios) and not the costs of the three added up?

        • If you, the utility, owned all three they would have payments on the total ~$4/watt.

          Then there would be very moderate 1c/kWh or less operating costs for wind and solar plus the fuel costs for the times when the gas plant runs.

          If we use the unsubsidized prices for wind (<4c), solar (~6c) and CCNG (~6c) we come in around 5c/kWh. In most locations wind is likely to be the largest contributor.

          Citigroup has set the price of the electricity from the Vogtle reactors at about 13c/kWh (and that's subsidized).

          • I want to modify that a bit. Wind is being installed mostly in places with really good wind resources. Utility solar mostly in the sunniest places. If the mix was installed somewhere with poorer wind and solar then the price would be higher.

          • Yes, it is always important to keep in mind that resource quality varies quite a bit.

      • Are you talking about combined cycle has turbines (ccgt) or closed cycle GT?
        What would be installed in combination with renewables are OCGTs. Those would be used mainly for frequency regulations.
        Remember Irsching? A CCGT operating at over 60% efficiency, the most efficient in the world, built by Siemens.
        In reality only the first stage is the fast ramping part and the second stage is too slow to react in most cases.
        If you are going for cogeneration you are obliged to deliver heat even when their is enough power and you need the infrastructure and customer base to do so.

        What is used are cheaper OCGT.

  • Time for a new branch of maths/meteorology/electrical-engineering… to determine the cost of powering large expanses such as USA, Australia, Europe using only solar/wind and energy storage.

    Try this thought experiment – distribute randomly on a large dining table 100 coins and 100 buttons. Now toss 4 red tea towels and 4 blue tea towels on the table. Each night, cover the table with a red tablecloth, then remove it each morning. Now toss all the tea towels again. Move them randomly any time you feel mischievous, or swap a red for a blue, or a blue for a red. Spread them out, scrunch them up.

    The red tea towels are areas where there is cloud cover. The blue tea towels are areas where there is no wind. The coins are solar assets – they generate whenever not covered by something red. The buttons are wind assets – they generate unless covered by a blue tea towel.

    So your minimum generation is at night, from say half the wind assets. Maximum is during the day, from half the wind and at least half the solar.

    So how much storage is required to ensure the batteries never go flat? Only enough to get through the night and early morning.

    What solar/wind capacity factor is required? It’s a number somewhere between one and two. One is clearly not enough – the batteries would go flat thanks to the tea towels. Two is two much, assuming the tea towels never deny more than 40% of your production during a 24 hr period.

    The other reason two is too much, is because the dining table is a worst case thought experiment – in reality there is also hydro, tide, biomass, geothermal, solar-thermal to lend a hand.

    • You might want to read a paper published by Budischak, et al.

      They took four years of minute to minute demand data for the largest wholesale electricity market in the US and four years of NOAA data for hourly wind and solar output and modeled a 99.9% wind and solar grid.

      There results are a bit outdated as the cost of wind, solar and storage have dropped faster than they assumed but the results are interesting. It’s a model that could, should, be updated periodically as technology advances.

      They found it uneconomical to supply the last 0.1% with wind/solar/storage. Cheaper to use NG for that last 7 hours a year.

      They didn’t include other renewables, dispatchable loads, or power sharing with other grids. Adding those in should make the cost even more acceptable.

    • There is a thriving small industry in 100% renewable electricity scenarios. Google Fraunhofer for Germany, Jacobson for the USA, and AEMO for Australia – the last being the institutionally conservative network operator. They all conclude it’s doable. For the older ones, the cost assumptions are of course too high. Jacobson’s is actually a 100% renewable energy scenario, with a little handwaving on shipping, aviation, trucks and cement. That is, the technology exists in the lab but not yet at industrial scale.

      • Also – upper right of the page – “Is 100% Renewable Energy Possible”

        Many relevant article linked on that page.

  • p { margin-bottom: 0.1in; line-height: 120%; }

    I lived in Kyoto a
    few years after the protocol. It felt like the ghost of the protocol
    lingered in the air. It was sad. Back to business as usual. It felt
    as if, again and again, the industries hadn’t learned anything and
    were still packing huge doses of lip service. We’ve seen sadly how
    true this still is today, even after the humbling 2008 global
    economic crash.

    I hope the Paris talk shakes things up this
    time, and beyond the idiotic political rhetorics, which have no place
    in deciding on the welfare of our future. Well over 95% of our local
    politicians are not trained as scientists, and as far as I’m
    concerned should never be part of any laws regarding our future
    welfare. They have proven to be incapable of looking out for our
    greatest welfare and have only answered to short-sighted lobbies that
    only have bottom line profits in mind and instantaneous rewards.

    I’m getting older now and we have no kids, which has allowed
    us to concentrate on the future. My wife is very active with human
    trafficking prevention and I with green transportation and renewable
    energy. I hope (and demand) the Paris talks be held in an intelligent
    way, away from politics, by scientists and spiritual people who
    understand what is at stake, our communal stake.

    I know how
    silly what I’m saying can sound, but these are very silly and crucial
    times we are leaving. I’d like my nephew and nieces to have a real
    future, not get handed the mess we have on out plate my generation

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