US Wind Hits Record Low Price of 2.5 Cents Per Kilowatt Hour; 9-12 Gigawatts of Renewable Energy Additions Ramp up for 2014

The excuses for failing to rapidly adopt renewable energy systems grow thinner and more contorted with each passing day…

During 2013, costs for wind energy plunged to record low levels as both wind and solar set to make substantial new capacity gains in 2014 and 2015, according to a recent report from the US Department of Energy.

PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) pricing for wind during 2013 plunged to the very low range of 2.5 cents per kilowatt hour after levelized costs were included for new wind energy projects. For comparison, the average range of PPAs for all new energy sources in 2013 was 2.5 to 5 cents per kilowatt hour and included wind, solar, natural gas and coal. This made wind energy the least expensive source for new energy in 2013 following a long trend of overall falling prices.

Price of Wind at all time low

(Price of wind hits all time low in 2013 at 2.5 cents per kilowatt hour. Image source: US Department of Energy.)

Solar prices also fell to within competitive ranges, leading to record adoption rates for that energy source for the US in 2013.

New wind generation is expected to hit between 4 and 6 gigawatts in 2014 and between 5 and 9 gigawatts in 2015. Overall, 13 gigawatts of new wind energy capacity is now under construction, with the bulk focusing on the wind-rich region of the central US.

Solar is also expected to make strong gains in 2014 by adding between 5 and 7 gigawatts of new capacity. Rapidly increasing US growth in solar energy installations has been led by a combination of factors including plummeting prices and a rising adoption of home solar energy through rooftop leasing arrangements targeted to save consumers money on their power bills.

By end of 2014, total installed wind capacity is expected to hit around 74 gigawatts in the US. Meanwhile, US solar capacity is likely to climb above 18 gigawatts by year end. Altogether, these combined energy sources, when taking capacity factor into account, will have produced about 5% of the US’s electricity.

US renewables forecast 2

(US renewable energy net electrical generation from 2013 [historic] through 2018 [projected]. Image source: SUN DAY Forecast using US Energy Information Agency sources.)

With new construction projects continuing, total US renewable energy generation is expected to exceed 13.4 percent by the end of 2014 and 16.11 percent by the end of 2018.

Strong Gains Necessary to Mitigate Human-Caused Climate Change, Barriers to Adoption are Now Chiefly Political

Though the combined continued net price drop and cumulative substantial renewable energy generation gains are encouraging, they will need to advance at ever faster rates if we are to have much hope for rapidly mitigating the worst effects of human caused climate change. US generative capacity additions for renewables should probably be in the range of 2-4 times their present rate of adoption and goals should be set for the total replacement of US ghg emitting generation capacity by or before 2050.

With prices for renewable electricity generation now at levels competitive with traditional fossil fuels, and, in the case of wind, far less than fossil fuels, the primary barrier to adoption is now political. Fossil fuel related organizers have, through lobbying and media related efforts, worked on a number of fronts to water down renewable energy incentive legislation and slow or block policy measures that would speed their adoption. Many of these groups are aligned with conservative members and climate change deniers in Congress, but also include a broad array of outside organizations.

These groups represent a final, but strong road block to adoption of permanent mitigations to climate change with broad ranging benefits such as practically unlimited base fuel sources and freeing economic systems from the specter of energy scarcity and insecurity. Given both the lurking risks of human-caused climate change and the prospective benefits of widespread renewable energy generation, the time for a broad push for rapid adoption of renewable energy systems is now.

Links:

US Department of Energy Wind Energy Report for 2013

SUN DAY Forecast

Price of Wind at All Time Low of 2.5 Cents Per Kilowatt Hour

Related Reading:

Major Court Clears the Way to Let Renewables onto the Grid

Proposed Coal Export Terminal Suffers Major Setback

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98 Comments

  1. Fractal

     /  August 19, 2014

    A massive 3000 megawatt / 1000 turbine farm will begin coming on line in 2015 in Carbon County Wyoming. Privately funded by billionaire Phillip Anschutz from Colorado (under the pseudonym of Power Company of Wyoming, (probably in an effort to garner low-information local supporters), it demonstrates that if the profit is there, the moguls will fund AE enterprise. I personally don’t like big power running the alternative energy markets but that may be what it will come to if the state and local governments don’t improve the incentive for individuals to power up.
    I won’t address the 50% portion of the farm that is sited on BLM land with some pristine scape values (wildlife, recreation, view, etc) this isn’t the forum for that; but it will be another chunk of the dark-sky west annihilated.

    Reply
    • Yeah, don’t like the notion of big power running things either. But it sure beats fossil fuels.

      Ironic name for the place.

      Reply
      • mikkel

         /  August 19, 2014

        I’m not going to get repeat myself too much because Robert and I already had an exchange (https://robertscribbler.wordpress.com/2014/08/15/the-keystone-pipeline-arctic-methane-eruptions-and-why-human-fossil-fuel-burning-must-swiftly-halt/#comment-20565)

        But….

        The way big power evaluates things is completely lopsided towards fossil fuels, and yet they still are finding projects that qualify like this one; so obviously there doesn’t need to be an increase in state and local government incentives to make the next round of projects work. If you don’t want big power running the markets, then create/support cooperatives and build them. I bet on this blog we have the requisite skill and connections to put together a project, if we recognized we had the power and will to.

        From there, it’s a matter of linking up with divestment movements (from both fossil fuels and wall street) in order to scale out and make the projects widespread.

        Reply
        • Wonder if there would be a way to pull off a divest – big, invest – small movement? I’m thinking that would require its own organization altogether.

          Residential/individual incentives for solar do help to moderate and reverse some of the wealth concentration issues. These policies were pretty widespread in Germany and resulted in smaller/ more local generation.

      • mikkel

         /  August 20, 2014

        Could it be an action plan pushed by 350 and affiliated groups?

        The residential incentives for the US are quite good. The Federal tax break alone does as much for an individual as the feed in tariffs for Germany, although Germany has smarter policy because theirs is beneficial to commercial and individual installations under the same umbrella.

        The major issue in the US is market soft costs plus financing/fees. It costs more in the US to acquire a customer than all soft costs (including labor) in Germany combined!

        http://blog.rmi.org/blog_2013_12_05_can_usa_solar_cost_compete_with_germany

        You’ll notice the financing/fee cost in the US is the same as the whole system is in Germany.

        Imagine what the economics would look like if you combine Germany $/W with the increased insolation in the US (Germany is so bad that only Seattle is worse in the US)! This is why I harp on the need to organize around ways that reduce customer acquisition costs, do bulk installs to make labor costs plunge and have cheap financing.

        There is one group doing this — Solar City. That’s why they have now captured 30% of the residential PV market and it will only grow. I do think that we are on the cusp of PV really taking off, but it’ll be through big power (either existing, or new like Solar City) unless there is more movement by the “small movement” to organize.

        Reply
  2. Spike

     /  August 19, 2014

    In the UK we got to 22% at one time in the last few days and I saw the Danish grid on over 80% wind generation at one point. There was a nice summary in Business Green of why further progress can be expected in the absence of political sabotage by bribed politicians.

    http://m.businessgreen.com/bg/james-blog/2361031/renewables-records-reveal-how-clean-energy-is-starting-to-light-up-the-world

    Reply
    • Ah, good to see. 80 percent is pretty extraordinary for Denmark.

      Speaking of sabotage, I did notice that Abott’s government was applying a 500 dollar fee to grid users with low energy usage (primarily hitting businesses with solar rooftops).

      Reply
  3. Griffin

     /  August 19, 2014

    We need the Production Tax Credit signed into law. We need investors to able able to count on tax breaks the way that Big Oil does. Year to year extensions are a mockery to the industry and our future. We need to see the opposite of what we are seeing now from the policy makers.
    http://www.awea.org/Advocacy/Content.aspx?ItemNumber=797

    Reply
  4. Encouraging news. But, as noted in this article, it’s not nearly enough progress. A <4% increase in Hydro/Bio/Geo/Wind/Solar share of U.S. energy production for 2013-2018 seems rather modest at best. IMO, market forces are insufficient to address the escalating problem of climate change. Coordinated government action on an international scale, however unrealistic, looks to be our only viable solution – given the current socioeconomic situation.

    Reply
  5. Can someone weigh in on why the Green party isn’t getting more US votes. The reasons I see is that they suffer from funding to get the message across, that people aren’t aware that they exist and a lot of people don’t give a hoot.
    Seems that if we want the political situation to change, we need to change it. From that perspective they seem the best option as they already have the structure and the ideals. As their charter apparently forbids corporate donations, doesn’t that make them a preferred choice if we want to remove the hindering influence?

    Reply
    • If they publicized the ‘no corporate donations’ plank, I bet they’d get a lot more traction. If I were them, I’d go for key races and try to expand from there.

      The US two party system does tend to shut out alternatives. We do have party revolutions now and then, but it has tended to be on the century timescale. The issue here seems to be that second parties tend to split the base supporter vote. But there is something to be said for a Green Party infiltration of the Dems, for example and attempting to advance their party platform that way.

      If climate change continues to grow as an issue, I could definitely see more in the way of green candidates.

      Reply
    • Doug

       /  August 20, 2014

      Paul, I’ve written about this on this blog, and recently. I have always voted for the Green Party and volunteered with them as well. You asked about why they don’t get more traction. It’s popular for people to say the reason is because the two major political parties control all the levers. For example the Greens are not allowed on Nationally televised debates. I happen to disagree with this popular view. I believe the reason the Green Party doesn’t gain traction is because far far far far too many people don’t take their ideals into the voting booth. I would even go so far as to say over 50% of people who vote for Democrats, values and ideals fit closer to the Greens. So why don’t they vote for them? In my opinion its a combination of these reasons. 1. They want to side with party that has a chance to win. 2. Their social group/families vote Democratic. 3. They are too scared to side with an extreme minority of voters. They are seduced by the money put out by the Democrats. 4. They secretly like the status quo. 5. The lesser of two evils argument. 6. They’ve learned to have low standards when it comes to voting. 7. They are lazy and vote for people whose names they recognize, or for a good looking candidate.

      These are all pathetic reasons to vote for someone, and I’ll repeat, I believe over 50 percent of Democrats use one of these reasons instead of voting for the Green Party, who actually represent their ideals. It’s absurd to me to vote for someone other than the one that is going to fight the hardest for ones ideal policies. Millions of people around the world have died for the right to vote, and trust me, they didn’t sacrifice their lives so that people would vote for candidates they didn’t even believe in.

      So, I believe Paul this is the answer to your question. People who are brillant in other areas of their lives, go brain dead when it comes to voting…

      That is why I think politics is hopeless. We will never get quality elected officials because voters don’t have standards. Can we get off of fossil fuels in time to avoid catastrophe without adequate laws and policies? Perhaps. But I believe politics has to be bypassed. And I believe in targeting the extreme wealthy, so that they understand what is happening with the climate. Right now, for the most part they don’t because of all the filters they’ve surrounded themselves with.

      Reply
      • Yes, you are correct.
        It is interesting what happens in environments where the political system is more diverse. What seems to happen is that one party or the other does not hold a majority, therefore they have to rely on independents and minor parties to get their proposals through.

        Unfortunately that can also mean other less desirable fringe groups get a say. But overall it shows that a party does not have to win the balance of power to have significant influence on policy.

        Reply
      • mikkel

         /  August 20, 2014

        I was just having this discussion with someone here in NZ about the NZ Greens. Fortunately, NZ has an MMP system (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mixed-member_proportional_representation) so voting for Green does matter. There are presently 14 seats (11.5%) that go to Greens, and due to the parliamentary system, they have a lot of power in most years because they can decide which major party goes into government. Unfortunately, the neoliberal party (National) has a majority and so Greens aren’t in the current government. Elections are next month, but it’s not looking good.

        The discussion with my friend was about whether it is smart for the Greens to de-emphasize
        global warming and instead focus on the economic issues. For instance, on their policy page, the first thing they say is “Our full fiscal costings for our 2014 election priorities which show larger surpluses and pay down debt sooner than National.”

        The next policy is reducing child poverty through increasing the top tax bracket to fund a tax credit for families and increased education/healthcare focus on poor communities. Then on a few small programs for “disability issues.”

        #5 is increased public transport, #6 is giving subsidized public transport rides to students, then a whole host of things, and at #15 is the climate protection plan, which consists of a tax cut on the first $2000 of income, plus a small tax cut for businesses in exchange for an as yet to be identified carbon tax.

        The last point, #16, is a green bank, which will fund public/private partnerships and raise its public contribution from increased royalties on fossil fuels.

        In any case, I agree with everything they say, but it is just a collection of disparate policy prescriptions only loosely tied together by the concept of “sustainability.” I argued that they should put climate change first and foremost as the organizing principle of the party, and then explain how the policies collectively address climate change while improving economics and equitability. Otherwise, there is a big danger of the tail wagging the dog. Their #1 issue is reducing national debt, which is the core neo-liberal framing, and against the left’s economic framing. Plus NZ’s public debt is only 40%, one of the lowest in OECD.

        My friend said that their incremental and non-radical approach would allow them to get more votes and thus become a larger party, and then they could pivot back. I pointed out that this was the Democratic (and generally the left as a whole throughout the world) logic in the post-Carter years, and yet not only did they not pivot back, they became more right-wing than the right-wingers used to be. That failure led to the need for the Green Party and the rationalizations that you mention.

        Reply
        • That makes perfect sense Mikkel. Perhaps as things deteriorate they will give up having to appease the masses, because hopefully the masses will have wizened up. (always the optimist)

      • mikkel

         /  August 20, 2014

        In my opinion (that I feel is backed up by history), paradigm shifts occur very quickly not because people change their minds, but because they respond to a crisis by going towards the framing that has the clearest messaging, most will and articulate existential meaning.

        These parties are inherently radical in the sense that they advocate complete and rapid change to address ills and the more pure they are in their radicalism, the more power they can exert because the more their existentialism shines. For reasons I can’t fully comprehend, and it pains me greatly, it seems like the most assured way to do this is extreme nationalism, xenophobia and/or religious fundamentalism.

        I came across this review by George Orwell of Mein Kampf, which pithily explains this: http://boingboing.net/2014/08/17/orwells-review-of-mein-kampf.html

        For me, these shifts that we are talking about are so radical that they cause a reevaluation of purpose for being — it reaches almost a religious level, in that it is a prescriptive framework for both day to day actions and higher meaning on both an egocentric level and towards improving fellowship.

        So I think less appeasement and more preaching has a greater shot of gaining converts. Otherwise, the moral sense gets washed out and will lose to the most destructive ideologies.

        Reply
        • Mikkel: Have you ever considered running for office? Seriously, its times like these that we need people like you.

      • mikkel

         /  August 20, 2014

        Haha Paul I was just grilling a friend (how is a political scientist) about why he thinks that leftists always think of politics as the highest and most effective calling, because I certainly don’t understand it.

        I would be a terrible politician. Not only am I introverted and get worn out quickly when having to talk to a lot of individuals (crowds are no big deal, but people vote for you based on individual connection) but as they say, “politics is the art of the possible.” My whole drive is based on redefining what possible is, and that’s through a combination of fostering self awareness and action by attempting to recruit those who have the skills and connections to create a new reality.

        These things are not political, they create the necessary conditions for politics sure, but they exist as a prerequisite. I believe that politics is just a reflection of the collective mind, and its disordered nature reflects the disordered state of individual being.

        My major existential problem is that working on personal self awareness (within myself and also with others) is often counter to the ability to organize action; which is most effective through sloganeering and ideological rationalization. But is action based on that truly change?

        I recently found this book which more or less reflects my thoughts (http://www.jkrishnamurti.org/krishnamurti-teachings/view-text.php?tid=30&chid=56840&w=&amp😉 The link is to one chapter, but they’re all roughly accurate.

        Reply
        • I do understand where you are coming from. My internal view is Taoist. It begins with the individual, then the family, then the community, then the country. But even at the family and community levels you still have politicians. They are required because they frame policy. Without policy you are back to confusion. If you have ever brought up kids, they need policy.

          Also, keep in mind though that India was saved from civil war through the actions of the individual inspiring the support of the multitudes. Gandhi wasn’t the result of the confusion, he solved the confusion. And he did it through politics, how else do the masses know that there are other policy options. Was it true change? Well despite the fact that Indian politics seems to me a mess, it has to be a lot better than what the alternative was.
          Same can be said for Mandella.

      • mikkel

         /  August 20, 2014

        I’m not saying policy isn’t needed, just that I wouldn’t be good at it. Similarly, I’m unsure about raising kids for that policy reason.

        That said, it is interesting you brought up that example, because it is a literal paternalistic view of policy. While this is needed for young children, I think a huge cause of social ills comes from the inability to transition to a mentor based perspective when we become late teens. I’ve always been really good at guiding people to examine their personal beliefs and help them develop outward personas that reflect it. Several people say that I’ve saved their lives both literally (making them not suicidal anymore) or figuratively, in convincing them to walk their own paths and cultivate inner strength. Is there policy that can do that? I don’t believe so.

        I would also note that both Gandhi and Mandella used non-political approaches to reframe the political reality. Gandhi was never elected and Mandella of course was only elected as a recognition of his successes. They and MLK understood the nature of man and organization, but it was through unrepentant uplifting of the spiritual self — the behind the scenes work was tactical instead of foundational.

        Reply
      • mikkel

         /  August 20, 2014

        Of course the hallmark of spiritual organization as political force vs. incremental policy comprise is reflected in MLK’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail

        http://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.html

        ” In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action…

        You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word “tension.” I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation…

        We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.””

        This was in 1963, eight years after Rosa Parks (who was ‘demonstrating’ in a way that the NAACP had suggested) refused to leave the bus. At this point, they had a massive organizational structure, consistent messaging and yes, suggested policy drawn up and gone over by all their lawyers. MLK explicitly states the need to create a crisis in order to allow the opportunity for their movement to rush in and provide all the manpower + intellectual and legal backing to resolve it.

        It was not pleading for people to recognize injustice and hope that they would get enough votes; it was an integrated world view that took control over its destiny and inspired its followers through both idealistic and practical guidance.

        Reply
      • Mark from New England

         /  August 20, 2014

        Well said Doug, Paul and Mikkel. This tribal loyalty to the Democratic Party, in the face of what they’ve become (Republican-lite) is one of those sociological traits that keeps us from thinking outside the constricted box of our present socio-economic system. One of those hard-wired traits from our evolutionary past, as George Marshall describes in his new book… (see my review below)

        Reply
        • There is no way I’d ever support a republican. So the dems have my vote until there’s an option that is both likely to win and likely to be more effective. I will not waste my vote on someone that is bound to lose. So it’s not tribalism, but practicality. Mount a strong enough opposition to the two party system and then we have something. Until then, my focus is to support democrats and to drive democrats to the left.

    • Good replies to your question on the electoral limitations of the Green Party. Here’s my two cents:

      In Presidential election years, voter turnout in the U.S. struggles to achieve 60% of the voting age population. In midterm elections, the figure is 40%. In primary and local elections, it drops to 20%. Given the expansion of money in politics since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, that’s not democracy… it’s plutocracy. Studies have shown that the vast majority of these non-voters are left-of-center – a prime Green Party demographic. I offer this case in support of COMPULSORY VOTING laws such as in Australia and many other western democracies.

      The Green Party agenda is heavily focused on environmental issues. Unfortunately, that by itself doesn’t play well in middle America. If they could broaden some and appeal to blue-collar workers on economic issues, they might be able to construct a LIBERAL/POPULIST COALITION especially if they also advocate against authoritarian government and interventionist foreign policy.

      Since the U.S. has a presidential, rather than a parliamentary system, the Green Party would have to mobilize an effort in the individual states to enact OPEN PRIMARY elections. That would be no small task since the two dominant parties have already rigged the game procedurally. However, the concept is widely popular particularly when framed within an anti-establishment context.

      Reply
      • Mark from New England

         /  August 20, 2014

        Robert,

        “The Green Party agenda is heavily focused on environmental issues. Unfortunately, that by itself doesn’t play well in middle America. If they could broaden some and appeal to blue-collar workers on economic issues, they might be able to construct a LIBERAL/POPULIST COALITION especially if they also advocate against authoritarian government and interventionist foreign policy”.

        Perfectly stated. The (true) Left and the Tea Party need to unite on the few issues they have in common, such as opposition to a police state, and then those of us who know the facts about AGW need to somehow get through to them in their language and frames of reference.

        Reply
        • We need a situation in which the current moderate democrats represent the right wing. So, in essence, we need to form a new left and drive the whole system left.

          Populist/Green coalition would be a good way to go about it.

          The tea party, as it stands is a more extreme version of the republican party. Their push is to dismantle the policy structure entirely, eliminate the income tax, and do a number of other things that would hurt more than help. If you look at the tea party structure they are absolutely rife with climate change deniers. In addition, it’s difficult to separate their interests from those of the Kochs. So it’s hard to make a case for them being little more than a resurrected and more insane John Birch Society.

          In any case, if the policies pushed by the democrats, as a whole, were adopted, we’d be far better off. It’s the complete intransigence on the part of republicans and the tea party which has caused most of the problems we face now.

        • In other words, what did the Tea Party do?

          It drove the republicans even more to the right. It kept the democrats from enacting the policies that would have helped. In essence, it introduced more dogma and extremism.

    • Ken Barrows

       /  August 20, 2014

      Paul from NSW,

      As a American, I say that the Green Party (for whom I have worked) is countercultural to 99% of Americans. After all, most liberals wring their hands over global warming/climate change but want more cars and more planes.

      Reply
  6. bassman

     /  August 20, 2014

    Off topic but check out these changes in aerosols over North America vs Eastern Asia over the last decade (from NASA). It makes me think that a warmer Atlantic vs a colder pacific may have been influenced by changes in aerosols a lot more than people think. I am not referring to the pacific this year of course rather I’m referring to the 2000’s.

    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=84119&src=twitter-iotd

    The image is really fascinating.

    Reply
  7. james cole

     /  August 20, 2014

    My area is prime for wind, constant winds westerly in winter, Northeast or Southeast in summer, but nearly always blowing at a level that would produce. In my family’s home village in Sweden, several windmills feed power to the nearby city. Each coastal city has it’s handful of windmills working near the power needs. Across the sea in Denmark, the entire nation is already equipped, and many are now in the shallow seas. Meanwhile here in America, though my coastal area is prime wind country and it is 2014, not a windmill exists and nobody, political or private sector has said word one about building wind power here. Why did I see the Swedes begin to go big into wind in 1988, and expand on it over time, while my American home does nothing? Big fossil fuel really owns government. Frack is their mantra, though our Canadian shield bedrock is not frack gas country.
    Off Topic, Anyone following the volcanic alarms going off in Iceland? Weather wise, what would ash tend to do in current air currents and systems? Might be some time yet before it blows, looking more like a September issue perhaps.

    Reply
  8. Phil

     /  August 20, 2014

    I expect the current Government here in Australia will withdraw all support for any new renewable projects. The most recent assessment of electricity generation capacity requirements estimates a current surplus of around 7000 MW against a backdrop of falling average and peak demand and no need for any new investment until after 2024, including thermal generation. This will lock in the extensive coal based generation at least out to 2024 which is their aim. They will use this to drop Federal Government support for any further large scale renewable energy project – e.g. anything over 30MW.

    The main support is a renewable energy target and with 41 TWh target by 2020 would require around an addtional 8000 MW of investment in wind generation to hit that target – alot of wind farms to be built between now and 2020. However, if the renewable energy target is dropped, that will not happen.

    Whether they can get that through the Parliament is questionable – enough of the opposition parties in the Upper House have made public statements about blocking any attempt at least until 2016 when a new election is due because the current Government would be breaking an election promise if the support were changed.

    This however would just add to uncertainity and stall any future investment out to beyond 2016 and after the next election. The opposition might run on such issues leading up to the next election but they have been badly burnt over the carbon tax and there is uncertainity over how solid any support for renewables within the broader voting public even though polls usually show majority support for renewables. Absent El Nino, not sure if weather/climate/drought/bush fires will be bad enough to sway public opinion, even though last years ENSO neutral conditions felt like El Nino.

    Perhaps State governments might take up the slack although quite a few are of the same persuasion as the Federal Government and tend to support fossil fuel interests more readily. However, most of those are on the nose at the moment and oppositions who support renewables and fighting climate change may get elected. State Governments in the past have had their own renewable energy targets but dropped them when the Federal Government introduced one with bi-partison support. That support ended when current neo-conservative/tea party cabal took over the conservative side of politics.

    Reply
    • What does the rhetoric over the carbon tax look like? In other words, how did the attack advance? And how factual was the attack?

      I’ve seen statements by Abott to the effect that the carbon tax was a ‘hand break’ on the economy. To my knowledge, these statements are either false or grossly exaggerated. Does Australia have an equivalent to the CBO that will fact check the effects of such policies?

      To my knowledge, a carbon tax in the US would have very limited negative economic effect, primarily impacting fossil and emissions based industries.

      My sense is that Abott won a misinformation campaign in this respect, but I’d like to learn more as we are likely to face similar issues/rhetoric here.

      Reply
      • Phil

         /  August 20, 2014

        He won a misinformation campaign because the press here in Australia, led by Murdock, and numerous right-wing radio shock-jocks like Rush and the fossil fuel industries power and influence as well as key business groups backed this campaign. Other business leaders who might be worried were very silent.

        The key messages was:

        (1) it is a tax and a broken election promise by Gilliard;
        (2) will increase electricity bills significantly increasing already high cost of living pressures;
        (3) affect the economy given the central role played by fossil fuel industries;
        (4) climate change is not a concern so we do not need to take action that will be bad for economic growth and employment.
        (5) Or during the election, we believe in climate change (when we actually do not) but our approach is better than the nasty carbon tax.

        Most of the economics profession have supported a carbon pricing signal as the the most efficient and socially cheapest way to de-carbonise the economy but that gained little traction within the media. This is especially the case for very large cuts in emissions but the target officially adopted politically of 5% by 2020 is very small and can be handled within budget for around a cost of around 5 billion. A 80% cut could not but no one has really talked about that issue.

        Added to that the previous labour Government was very ineffective in selling the benefits of carbon pricing and danger of climate change and the need to act now as well as having leadership fights between Rudd and Gilliard which was of course used by the above media to push for the election of Abbott and his cabal.

        The main results was that many still believe that climate change is not proven (because of mininformation), carbon pricing will increase bills and hurt the economy. They do not understand the costs of BAU – what 4% warming really means. This has been fostered by the media, some actively such as Murdock while other passively in that they do not see it as a public service or duty to de-bunk misinformation.

        Reply
        • Someone should do a study analyzing how much climate change (heatwaves and droughts) have already damaged Australia’s economy, then compare future projected losses with a carbon tax. In that light, the carbon tax is far less expensive. In any case, I bet the economic benefit of transitioning to renewables outweighs so called carbon tax losses long term in any case, as Australia becomes less reliant on energy imports due to transition/efficiencies.

    • Phil

       /  August 21, 2014

      The Climate Council has done some studies along these lines but it is hard to combat the argument put forth by the deniers that there has always been fires, drought and floods, or argue for link between climate change is directly causing these things.

      The impact of global warming especially over the last 30 years is not really long enough to draw out strong statistical evidence although climate model simulations do point to the increased incidence of fires, drought, floods, etc. But those simulations are looking at the future (up to 2100) and not the past. Harder to sell that outcome when the right-wing paints that modelling as unreliable.

      Reply
  9. Nancy

     /  August 20, 2014

    Large scale wind is one solution, but residential solar is another way to pressure the big energy companies. What better investment can you make in your kids’ future than a solar array on your roof? First, as a demonstration project in your neighborhood, people can see that it works. Secondly, the awareness of energy consumption is amazing. There is nothing like personal competition to see if you can use less energy each month. It doesn’t take long before you’re watching less (mind-numbing) TV, ironing less (ha ha), and buying LED bulbs for every fixture. Energy awareness = energy efficiency.

    It breaks my heart to see large south-facing homes without solar arrays. Every new home built in this country should be net zero energy.

    Reply
    • Phil

       /  August 20, 2014

      They are attacking small scale renewables as well – most State and Federal Government support for small scale renewables is under attack. We have a 1.5 KW system but role out of larger systems will probably not take place until cheap battery storage is available at enough scale to take oneself off the grid. Off course, even if you did that, you would probably have to pay some grid fee to support the distribution and transmission companies who are mostly Government owned and pay dividends to State Governments.

      Reply
      • So how is Abott polling?

        Reply
      • Phil

         /  August 20, 2014

        At the moment, Abbott is not polling that well because of numerous broken election promises although the gap has narrowed a little recently. Probably now 52%-48% to the opposition, back from 54%-46% a month or two previously.

        The next Federal election is still 2 years away so it will be interesting to see if they recover. Of more interest is a few state elections within the next year where conservative Governments might fall. However, political environment is quite volatile so things could switch around.

        Reply
      • Phil

         /  August 21, 2014

        There are other such as Fairfax but Murdock is the largest player. For example, in Brisbane, the only major newpaper is a Murdock one which is used as a source of news stories by other outliets includsing our publically owned national broadcaster.

        Most commerical news talk radio are also controlled by similar types to Murdock with similar agenda’s to push.

        Reply
      • Phil

         /  August 21, 2014

        No, surprising how many would feel that what the Murdock empire states is news when it is opinion at best and misinformation at worst. This is especially fthe case for the older generation who have depended upon his papers for many years for news and when in the past they did present news and not opinion/ideological ramblings.

        Reply
        • Similar situation here, at least there is more diversity in media. Although the US could use a period 3 decade purge of all too big to fail corporations (media/banking/energy etc). We need another round of trust busting across the board and, it appears, this action should be global.

    • Couldn’t agree more.

      Reply
  10. Colorado Bob

     /  August 20, 2014

    If You Think the Water Crisis Can’t Get Worse, Wait Until the Aquifers Are Drained
    We’re pumping irreplaceable groundwater to counter the drought. When it’s gone, the real crisis begins.
    Aquifers provide us freshwater that makes up for surface water lost from drought-depleted lakes, rivers, and reservoirs. We are drawing down these hidden, mostly nonrenewable groundwater supplies at unsustainable rates in the western United States and in several dry regions globally, threatening our future.

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/08/140819-groundwater-california-drought-aquifers-hidden-crisis/?google_editors_picks=true

    Reply
  11. Mark from New England

     /  August 20, 2014

    Not directly related to this article, but here’s my review of George Marshall’s new book, “Don’t Even Think About It”. I just submitted it to Amazon, so it’s too late for suggestions😉 :

    In this timely and urgently needed book, George Marshall sets out to answer several questions that he poses in the opening chapter: “What explains out ability to separate what we know from what we believe, to put aside the things that seem too painful to accept? How is it possible, when presented with the evidence of our own eyes, that we can deliberately ignore something – while being entirely aware that this is what we are doing?”

    Over the course of the book, he explores many of the psychological and social traits that served us well over millions of years of our physical evolution on the savannas of Africa, but which are not serving us so well now, as we face perhaps the greatest existential threat to our civilization. Some of these traits include confirmation bias, present (time) focus, social conformity, group think, procrastination, valuing the messenger over the message, and the different functioning of our rational and emotional brains. He explores these issues with several psychologists and sociologists, who generally believe that climate change is “a threat that our evolved brains are uniquely unsuited to do a damned thing about”, as put by Harvard Professor of Psychology Daniel Gilbert.

    However, in order to gain the widest possible perspective on these issues, he immerses himself into cultures that many environmentalists would consider the belly of the beast of denialism, such as Tea Party meetings and evangelical church congregations. That he is able to discover important lessons on climate change communication from such unlikely sources is a testament to his open mindedness and humility.

    He also points out many of the approaches that environmental activists take that are proving to be counterproductive, if the goal is to move beyond preaching to the choir and encourage a mass movement to address climate change. Perhaps the most important of these is the tendency of environmentalists to adhere to the “information deficit” model of social change, which is the belief that if just the right information is provided to people, that they will see the light and act upon that knowledge. Much of the content of the book is showing just how completely untrue this is.

    He emphasizes that since the early days of climate change awareness, the policy focus has been on reducing emissions at the tailpipe, or smokestack, and not at the well-head or mine. This framing has hampered the ability to develop truly effective solutions, as policies should ideally address impacts at both ends of the carbon chain.

    He discusses how the framing of climate change as primarily an environmental issue was an early error of activists and environmental organizations. Those whose social groups reject environmentalism as mainly the purview of egg-headed liberal elites (e.g. Al Gore), have come to distrust the message of human caused climate change because they distrust the messengers. The way in which climate change has become politicized hampers the ability of people who are not environmental activists to accept it.

    The author does provide recommendations for effective climate change communication, but without giving away the punch line, this quote on the need to engage both the rational and emotional aspects of our psyches sums them up well: “So, advocates for action on climate change have to do everything they can to speak to both. They need to maintain enough data and evidence to satisfy the rational mind that they are a credible source. They then need to translate that data into a form that will engage and motivate the emotional brain using the tools of immediacy, proximity, social meaning, stories and metaphors that draw on personal experience.”

    The book is well structured, with many easy to read short chapters that make for easy pacing. He also provides two summary chapters that distill the many points he makes, which I found very useful. I believe this book is a must read for everyone involved in communicating about this “wicked” problem, as he puts it. I propose that we place copies of this book in time capsules around the world, in case our civilization does not heed the messages of this book, at least future survivors will know why.

    Reply
    • wili

       /  August 20, 2014

      These sound like good ideas, and I may check the book out of the library. But it’s pretty easy to blame environmentalists for society’s failures to face up to this existential problem. Does the author at least note that the richest corporations since the invention of money have put considerable resources into defeating every effort by the relatively rag-tag green orgs?

      One could say that the greens should have first figured out a way to make more money than Exxon and than every other ff company put together, and then they may have had a chance to out-message their opponents.

      Reply
      • It’s counter productive to blame environmentalists. They’re actually trying to solve the problem.

        Reply
      • Mark from New England

         /  August 20, 2014

        Robert,

        He’s not blaming environmentalists per se, but strongly suggests that they learn from the latest findings in cognition, psychology and sociology when crafting their outreach and communications. As an environmentalist myself, I can see his points.

        Reply
      • Mark from New England

         /  August 20, 2014

        Robert,

        As an eminent and excellent climate communicator yourself, I’d like to hear your take on the book eventually. I don’t get any royalties from saying so😉, but I do sincerely believe there’s a lot of good information and suggestions for us to learn from.

        The oil and coal companies and their allied interests are not pushing their information onto a ‘tabula rasa’, but onto advanced ape minds that have millions of years of physical, and hundreds of thousands of years of cultural, evolution, with all its inherent biases, behind them. Isn’t Public Relations and advertising merely the conscious exploitation of these often unconscious biases and traits we all carry?

        Reply
        • For me, climate change communication is about confronting the human dragons, and defeating them. We expose manipulation and rip its guts out.

          The methodology is myth creation, but myth creation from truth in science. The analysis technique is threat identification. The emotional appeal is to rational fear and just action.

          In other words, let’s give people a reason to be proud to be human again by giving them good reason to do the right thing.

      • Mark from New England

         /  August 20, 2014

        Robert, well put: “In other words, let’s give people a reason to be proud to be human again by giving them good reason to do the right thing.” – “We expose manipulation and rip its guts out” – hmm, I can see your military background there🙂

        Your first sentence is actually very close to what George Marshall recommends towards the end of the book; appealing to our common humanity and mobilizing the public with a call to truly shared ethics and a sense of responsibility. But how to DO that effectively?

        Unfortunately, if a person is suffering under the spell of one of the ‘negative’ hard-wired traits, such as confirmation bias or group-think, they’re more susceptible to falling for disinformation deliberately crafted to exploit those cognitive weakness. His book explores how we can bypass these filters in our own and others minds so as to get the urgency of the climate crisis across to a broad section of society so that finally, finally, we can stop arguing about climate change and take effective action.

        Hmm… perhaps I should use that list bit in the review?

        Reply
      • wili

         /  August 21, 2014

        It’s just damn hard to get around the old truth that “A lie can travel half way around the world while truth is still putting on its shoes.” In the long term, some truths can ultimately, tortoise-like, win the race. But we don’t have much of a long-term here.

        Reply
      • mikkel

         /  August 21, 2014

        I agree that Robert is great in communicating in the proper way. I also agree with the quote above.

        These combine to inspire me to spend so much effort trying to convince Robert that focusing on large scale policy isn’t the best use of his talents, because [in addition] he could help us become organized to disprove lies through acting on the ground regardless of the overall environment!

        Reply
    • Mark from New England

       /  August 20, 2014

      I’ve since edited my review to make it a little more succinct. So any suggestions are welcome after all, as I believe I can edit it anytime (soon).

      Here’s a link to the first ‘post-book release’ blog posts by George Marshall:

      http://climatedenial.org/2014/08/20/climate-change-the-slippery-problem/

      Reply
      • Might be worthwhile stating that he may have failed to place blame where blame is due:

        Fossil fuel company meddling with the media and political system.

        Reply
      • Mark from New England

         /  August 20, 2014

        Fair point, but then in his book he’s not looking for agents to blame, but investigating why even intelligent people are such fair game for the disinformation campaigns of the fossil fuel interests and others.

        Reply
  12. Colorado Bob

     /  August 20, 2014

    Lessons From The Last Time Civilization Collapsed

    Consider this, if you would: a network of far-flung, powerful, high-tech civilizations closely tied by trade and diplomatic embassies; an accelerating threat of climate change and its pressure on food production; a rising wave of displaced populations ready to sweep across and overwhelm developed nations.

    Sound familiar?

    While that laundry list of impending doom could be aimed at our era, it’s actually a description of the world 3,000 years ago. It is humanity’s first “global” dark age as described by archaeologist and George Washington University professor in his recent book .

    1177 B.C. is, for Cline, a milepost. A thousand years before Rome or Christ or Buddha, there existed a powerful array of civilizations in the Near and Middle East that had risen to the height of their glory. Then, fairly suddenly, the great web of interconnected civilizations imploded and disappeared.

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2014/08/19/341573332/lessons-from-the-last-time-civilization-collapsed

    Reply
  13. ivice

     /  August 20, 2014

    Well, if a “simple” former LAPD narcotics group detective could figure this whole thing out…

    I even wonder- in my own profession- a lot of colleagues in medicine, don’t have a f**** clue about climate change, physics, although a medical doctor should be – in my opinion- a sound theoretical and practical!- natural scientist and not just an database of medicine guidelines and handbooks.
    So sorrow, that it has been so specialized and disconnected from almost all natural sience.

    Reply
  14. JPL

     /  August 20, 2014

    Any solar gurus out there?

    I’m considering putting a 5.5 kW array on my roof using the product made by this company:
    http://www.itekenergy.com/products/
    Any feedback appreciated.

    Admittedly, I don’t know a ton about PV, but the numerous federal and state incentives (I’m in Washington state) are making me think this is practically a no-brainer.

    TIA
    John

    Reply
    • Looks like a good company and a good product with good reviews. Might be a best time to buy before incentives run out.

      Would probably set up an appointment to make sure you’re aware of all that’s involved before making a final decision. That said, your state is probably one of the best places for a solar purchase of this kind due to the favorable policy environment.

      Reply
      • JPL

         /  August 20, 2014

        Robert, thanks for looking. I’ve had a site visit and have a proposal in hand. Just trying to decide if I should pull the trigger or not. Truly, my only hesitation is in wondering whether the PV technology will take some amazing leap in the next few years that will have me wishing I had waited just a bit longer. On the other hand, to poorly paraphrase Gandhi, ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world’, right?

        John

        Reply
        • I think we can count on the tech to probably keep improving and driving down costs. That said, I think solar has made its big leap for this decade and the cost cuts will be more incremental for a few years.

          You may also want to strike while the Washington State policy is favorable. The fossil fuel interests are on the war path to deny choice and incentive for renewable adoption, so it may just be that the best time to buy is now. Once you own, you can join with other owners in protecting the policy choices that help contribute to less fossil fuel burning and more energy independence for your state while also showing off panels to friends and family, increasing their chance of adoption.

          I’ve found that wind/solar owners are quite politically active and tend to work well in coordinated groups. And your state’s pool is probably deeper than mine (Maryland).

          If you do, we should throw you an online electricity free from fossil fuels free party😉

      • mikkel

         /  August 21, 2014

        Look at it this way, if it makes sense now without comparing against what you can do in the future, then when if it’s a lot better in a few years you’ll be in a better position to invest in converting other people!

        Reply
  15. Colorado Bob

     /  August 20, 2014

    Climate change means more insects
    Dr. Yogesh Shah, the Associate Dean of the Department of Global Health at Des Moines University, said in a conference call, “Every increase in temperature by a degree or two increases the mosquito population by eight to tenfold,” Shah said.

    He also stated he was concerned about more exotic diseases showing up in Iowa. He noted four cases of the mosquito-borne disease Chickungunya have been confirmed in Florida, though it is typically Africa, Asia and Europe.

    http://www.techtimes.com/articles/13576/20140820/climate-change-insects-mosquitos-ticks-nwf.htm

    Reply
    • Mark from New England

       /  August 20, 2014

      And unfortunately more arachnids like ticks, which carry some nasty diseases as well.

      Reply
  16. Colorado Bob

     /  August 20, 2014

    Canada’s despicable climate censorship: Government scientists need permission to tweet basic facts

    New documents reveal the extent of the government’s maddening policy of “suppression through bureaucracy”

    What’s the best way to describe the Canadian government’s avoid-the-topic-at-all-costs approach to climate change? Critics have called climate-related media censorship under its 2006 communications policy “Byzantine,” “Orwellian” and “definitely a scandal.” We also might want to try, as Katie Gibbs, executive director of the nonprofit group Evidence for Democracy, suggests, “suppression through bureaucracy.”

    Link

    Reply
    • Mark from New England

       /  August 20, 2014

      You’d expect this in the US or even Australia, but not in God’s Green Canada! Are these policies mostly coming from the Harper administration, or do they have broader support up there?

      Reply
    • Meanwhile, climate change has burned a 3.3 million hectare hole in the NWT. That’s only ten times the typically yearly burning for the Arctic region. I guess Canada won’t let its scientists talk about that either?

      Reply
  17. Colorado Bob

     /  August 20, 2014

    UW robotic gliders deploy for arctic ice study

    Despite years of focus on melting Arctic sea ice, research models predicting how it changes are lacking.

    They aren t that good. They don t necessarily do a great job of predicting what s going to happen, explained UW Senior Principal Oceanographer Craig Lee. That tells us we don t have the physics right.

    That s a concern for Lee, who says the ice is melting faster than anyone originally thought.

    Getting the physics right is now the focus of a $12 million project funded by the US Office of Naval Research. The first-of-its-kind study began in March and ends in September.

    It involves experts from all over the world, but researchers from Seattle will contribute one of the most essential pieces.

    Link

    Reply
    • They don’t have the negative feedback physics right either. That ice is going to swing radically once the glaciers really start letting go and the deep oceans start heating up.

      What they need to do is create a dynamic climate model based on ongoing Earth Systems changes. A huge challenge. But that’s what they need to do to nail this thing down.

      Reply
  18. Colorado Bob

     /  August 20, 2014

    Trillions of Tiny Plastic Pieces Reside in Arctic Ice

    An untold amount of plastic pollution finds its way into the ocean every year. No one knows for sure what becomes of all that garbage. Much of it most likely erodes into microplastic, tiny flecks smaller than five millimeters in diameter, which can take up pollutants and are often ingested by marine animals, including fish and crustaceans.

    Link

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  August 20, 2014

      The study found that sea ice contains up to 240 microplastic particles per cubic meter—as much as 2,000 times the density of the particles that are estimated to float in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

      Reply
      • Colorado Bob

         /  August 20, 2014

        So, the Arctic sea ice is a fly trap for plastic smaller than most of us can see. Our burning of hydrocarbons , may be a foot note to the creatures in the oceans eating the very tiny flacks of our fast food world.

        We deserve everything that is coming to us .

        Reply
        • It’s all related to hydrocarbons — plastic, burning.

          Toxins in the water and ice. Toxins in the air.

          In any case, climate change is the greater threat. But this needs to be handled as well.

    • I’ve seen previous reports on this. Just disgusting.

      Reply
  19. Greenland ice loss doubles from late 2000s

    “The contribution of both ice sheets together to sea level rise has doubled since 2009,” said Angelika Humbert from Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-28852980

    Errrr…. a five year doubling time is a 15% growth rate p.a. !

    Don’t quote me on this but according to the equation:

    x(t) = x0 × (1 + r) ^t

    with x0 = 1mm r=15% and t=86 years

    Then by 2100 the total contribution to sea level rise from Greenland would 165964mm or ~165m.

    And seeing as the GIS only contains 7m of sea level rise equivalent that obviously can’t happen! Which just points out the dangers of mindless extrapolation and raises the daunting question of just how much can melt?!!

    Reply
    • It could melt that fast, TDG, IF there were no negative feedbacks in play.

      The issue is that at a certain melt rate, all that fresh water shuts down the surface heat exchange engine and you get a huge tug of war going on. Stored cold in the ice sheets hits the ocean surface, and really wrecks the world’s weather, and this doesn’t even begin to mention what happens to the world ocean system (stratification, large algae blooms, rapidly expanding anoxia).

      Looks like you hit major negative feedbacks somewhere around 2-6 feet of SLR. Not enough to stop human warming, but to give it a second pause at around 2-3 C and then again at around 3-4 C.

      You get this kind of see-saw until the great ice sheets are gone entirely, which probably, hopefully, takes many centuries.

      My opinion is that we see 3-9 feet of SLR this century along with some very nasty weather and ocean changes.

      Thanks for this post.

      –R

      Reply
      • wili

         /  August 21, 2014

        Are you mostly following Hanson, here? Or are there other papers to look at. It seems to me that this fresh water could just as easily end up mixing down into the deep ocean, as it mixes with saltier waters and evaporates. Are there examples from previous warming periods that suggest these pauses?

        Reply
        • No. The physical dynamic of fresh water is that it is less dense and floats on top. It’s one of the primary dynamics of ocean circulation, or lack thereof, that fresh water floats and salt water sinks.

        • I follow a number of cutting edge researchers. And there are a growing group that confirm Hansen’s findings.

          If you dump a lot of very cold, fresh water in close proximity to very hot, salty water, the weather you end up with, due to the changing and extreme temperature differential is extraordinary. We have a number of different global climate models that confirm this.

          The heavy blow to the UK this past winter was mere prelude to what is very likely to happen with large, cold water outflows issuing from Greenland. You get a whip-saw storm track that is unstable as it ravels and unravels around Greenland. Frontal storms thousands of miles across with the strength of hurricanes.

          Fun.

      • wili

         /  August 21, 2014

        “Frontal storms thousands of miles across with the strength of hurricanes.”

        Yikes!

        Yeah, I remember that constant train of storms that kept hitting the UK. Those are the kind of effects that luke warmers miss when they represent GW as a gradual change that we will easily be able to adapt to.

        Is there going to be enough fresh water, though, to, for example, totally shut down the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Current (AMOC)? IIRC, that takes about one sverdrup (1 million cubic meters per second) of fresh water to totally shut it down. Are there any models that show the possibility of future melt reaching that rate?

        Reply
        • That’s about 25,000 cubic kilometers of ice loss per year from Greenland, or about 70 times the current melt rate.

          It’s conceivable we hit that during large outburst flood events, but probably not on aggregate. My opinion is we do shut down AMOC at some point as melt from Greenland is unlikely to be steady, but will likely occur at a rising rate interspersed with periods of surge events.

          The driver of overturning also takes a blow from added heat/evaporation/sinking of hot, salty water at the equator. In net, you end up with a reversal of the current circulation pattern, with warm, salty water pooling in the depths and cooler, fresh water spreading out at the surface. The fresh water spreads out from the poles and the salt water is generated by increasing evaporation in the equatorial regions.

          Eventually, after the ice sheets melt, everything would probably get very stagnant as the impetus for weather systems (temp difference between equator and poles) fades out. But that’s after the ice melts.

  20. Re small scale solar power installations, we have a non-profit in our area (Virginia, MD, WV, DC) that helps communities get together and buy and install PV in bulk purchases. Harrisonburg’s first RFP has gone out to the Valley’s installers so the first 60 or so homeowners will be getting their panels before the snow flies. It’s called the Community Power Network. The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley organized the meetings and publicity, CPN does the rest. Wish we’d known about it before we put ours in!

    Reply
  21. Spike

     /  August 21, 2014

    A more optimistic scenario here – let’s hope it plays out quickly. It’s a brave article for the Telegraph, with its Luddite readership!

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/ambroseevans_pritchard/11046842/Oil-industry-on-borrowed-time-as-switch-to-gas-and-solar-accelerates.html

    Reply
    • Very brave article for the Telegraph and good information all around. At some point, it’s worth considering that the gas boom busts and that cheap renewables wait in the wings to take up the slack. If we didn’t have climate change/pollution/population issues to deal with, the economic picture would be rather bright, I’d say. But the challenge is for a very rapid switch. So we should just keep spurring that horse😉

      We’re in a good place in that we have competing viable new energy supplies, with rapid acceleration in the viability of wind and solar. Oil gets in trouble once you take down 10-20 percent of its market share over the course of a few years. Those fuel efficiency standards were critical and one thing we can actually thank democratic policy for (in the US). Would be nice to see us adopt similar CAFE policy standards to China. IMO, that’s a critical element for EV development. Eventually, you can’t achieve the higher standard without a growing portion of EVs in the fleet.

      The reason why I keep beating the drum so hard is to deal with the inevitable backlash (already ongoing). If we can over-ride that, we’re in much better shape.

      Thanks for this link and Kudos to the telegraph (I’m not a fan of gas, but this is a level-headed assessment).

      Reply

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