Denmark Kicking Fossil Fuels Addiction With Record 39 Percent (and Growing) Wind Generation

“We have set a one-of-a-kind world record. And it shows that we can reach our ultimate goal, namely to stop global warming.” — Denmark’s Climate and Energy Minister Rasmus Helveg Petersen.

*   *   *   *

Back in 1971, on the eve of the world’s first global oil shocks, the European country of Demark generated more than 80 percent of its electricity from crude. As the 70s progressed and the nation staggered under rising energy costs and failure to obtain supplies from this limited, exploited, and monopolized fuel source, Denmark began to embark on a campaign for energy independence that was then unprecedented. A campaign to rid itself of a destructive dependence on economically volatile, climatologically destructive, and easily manipulated fossil fuels.

Wind in the Distance

(Offshore wind turbines in the distance. Image source: Urland.)

At the time, Denmark began to turn back to its traditional use of wind — but as a direct source of electricity itself. The country, situated on a peninsula between the North and Baltic Seas is awash in breezes and the ever shifting flows of conflicting air masses. The idea, for Denmark, was to harness this energy as a means to break its dependence on foreign oil and, ultimately, remove fossil fuel use entirely.

At first, the going was slow. Wind energy facility construction moved gradually from test sites to small farms, to the first large utility scale ventures in the late 1980s. At this point, the nascent Vestas as well as the established Siemens had become primary producers of wind turbines on the global market. Steady growth through the year 2000 resulted in Denmark providing slightly more than 10 percent of its electricity from wind, solar and geothermal sources — with wind providing the bulk of this portion.

At this point, economies of scale began to kick in as wind power adoption in Denmark began to expand exponentially. Vestas and Siemens grew concordantly from niche energy players to primary contributors for a rapidly growing global electricity market. By the end of 2014, Denmark supplied more than 39 percent of its energy from wind alone.

The amount of oil used for electricity generation in Denmark now? Less than 3 percent. A staggering success that many, especially those supporting fossil fuel interests, never believed possible.

But despite these amazing achievements, Denmark is still shooting for more, with an ultimate goal of completely kicking a nasty and climatologically destructive fossil fuel habit. For Denmark is now within striking distance of achieving its goal of getting more than 50 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2020 and becoming completely fossil fuel free by or before 2050.

Global_Wind_Power_Cumulative_Capacity.svg

(Global wind energy capacity since 1996. As Denmark pursues independence from fossil fuels — spear-headed by a surge in wind generation — global installed wind capacity continues to increase along an exponential curve. Image source: Commons.)

As Denmark pushes toward and beyond the 50 percent renewables mark, challenges remain. Grid storage and smart grid type energy movement will become more and more important. But, fortunately for Denmark and a number of other rising renewables states (including Germany at 27 percent renewables and California at 23 percent renewables) distributed and centralized storage systems are becoming more accessible. Electric vehicles, with their large batteries which can be utilized for grid storage when plugged in at home or at a smart charging station, are becoming more accessible. In addition, the cost of battery storage for grid applications is rapidly falling in many regions with nearby Germany seeing a 25 percent fall in the cost of battery storage this year alone.

With wind and solar energy now increasingly beating out coal and natural gas generation costs on a cents per kilowatt/hr basis, it becomes easier for responsible-minded governments like Denmark to shift more support to smart grids and storage in order to continue to grow renewable based power systems.

Lastly, the advent of new very large battery factories like those being built by Tesla, Solar City and Byd are likely to continue to drive down battery costs over the next few years — making transition beyond the 30 and 50 percent renewable electric generation milestones much more directly accessible.

It’s a megatrend which, should it become widely adopted and promoted, has the potential to start bending down the fossil fuel emissions curve soon — potentially pushing it to zero by mid century. Something that’s an absolute necessity if we’re serious about dealing with the ramping calamity that is human caused climate change.

Links:

Denmark Sets World Record for Wind Power Production

Germany and Denmark Join UK in Smashing Wind Energy Records

Battery Storage Systems Prices Fall 25% in Germany

Commons

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76 Comments

  1. climatehawk1

     /  January 8, 2015

    I haven’t paid too close attention, but it’s my impression that this success has taken place in spite of one or two backsliding governments along the way, and that Denmark could have been even further along the way to backing out fossil fuels.

    I also think this extraordinary percentage reflects stronger than usual winds in northern Europe. It’s certainly a big jump from previous years.

    Reply
    • There were quite a few rather extreme storms this year. In this case, climate change helped wind. To my knowledge the capacity additions and grid changes continue — though probably not so fast as they should.

      Reply
  2. M E Cheshier

     /  January 8, 2015

    Great photo! What an inspirational pic. Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  3. Just got in a report that wind is helping to keep electricity prices lower and more stable during cold snaps while also helping to keep the lights on. The reason is that cold snaps are generally accompanied with strong northerly winds that spike generation at the same time demand rises. The lower costs balance out higher costs from natural gas and coal plants that must strain or be turned on to meet demand. So if you’re getting a lower than expected power bill during the more recent Arctic warm up and cold air outflow, you can probably thank wind.

    Reply
  4. Sorry Robert – the total population of Denmark is 5.6 million.
    Our planet is growing by that many people EVERY MONTH !

    We have, as you well know, overshot all reasonable limits.

    Just today, the BBC was lauding the fact that UK car sales have surged to a new 10 year high!
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-30706580

    It’s game over :-((

    Reply
    • I just pinched myself. Yep. I’m still alive. Not game over yet.

      Reply
    • You are probably very right beckjeremy – don’t see how all these alternative energy ideas can work in the longer term with an ever expanding population.

      Reply
      • Solutions, not problems. Population restraint is helpful. Renewable energy is certainly helpful.

        Reply
      • climatehawk1

         /  January 9, 2015

        Not being Pollyanna here, but that is no reason to refrain from supporting renewable energy (I know you didn’t say that, just one plausible interpretation). The U.S. wind resource is enough to power the entire country nine times over, not counting offshore, not counting other renewables. Renewable resources are vast and we should be bending every effort to switch to them as rapidly as possible, while also pushing energy efficiency. Far more important, IMHO, than adaptation.

        Reply
      • Well, about 10 years ago i was watching on television an NPR interview with David Goodstein: Author of “Out of Gas: The End of the Age of Oil” and he said that the world needed to start at least building these windmills and solar panels and whatever else is available right now (10 years ago). That made sense to me. I think he also said that either way the world was headed back to life like being lived in the 1400’s. Whenever i drove past the wind turbines in the Banning Pass near Palm Springs, i do not remember ever seeing them all spinning – but my viewing of these turbines was infrequent. The wind turbines were supposed to supplement Palm Springs electric use – be interesting to see how that has worked out. With a growing population – a certain percent will not be driving cars & trucks and will have minimal impact on the climate, but a lot of the new people will want to have some kind of vehicle for transportation. I just watched a special report on Al Jazeera about this town in the country of India – they banned bicycles – the vehicular traffic was absolutely horrendous – i mean cars & trucks, not mopeds or motorcycles. And these people by western standards are very poor. So, alternative means of energy could be a good thing for most people or maybe bad if it encourages further destruction of the earth & it’s atmosphere. How much oil or oil byproducts are required to maintain alternative sources of energy? I do not know. It is hard for me to believe that the world can have this tremendous overwhelming increase in population – most equipped with the desire to drive some form of gasoline burning transportation can be offset very much by alternative energy.

        Reply
      • lesliegraham1

         /  January 9, 2015

        @messtime

        Re; Banning Pass wind farm.

        Installed capacity has steadily increased as newer larger wind turbines have been installed replacing earlier less efficient designs.

        There has been a net removal of 2,900 wind turbines since the late 1980s.
        However, total generation has steadily increased for the past two decades. Latest figures I can find show that in 2005, total generation had reached 1.1 TWh but is probably much higher today.

        One of the problems is that, almost unbelievably, neither the state of California nor the wind industry are required to keep current data on the performance of the state’s wind turbines.

        Supporters and opponents of wind energy can examine the performance of every single wind turbine installed in Denmark since the 1970s. If you want to know how well the cooperatively-owned wind turbines at Middelgrunden offshore of Copenhagen are performing, for example, the info is in the public domain.

        Not so in California.
        Thus, it’s easy for the fossil-fuel lobby groups to make up and spread absurd memes like the ridiculous lie “14,000 abandoned wind turbines in California”(TM) – which has again just resurfaced in the Australian windbagger media – because it’s nearly impossible for a lay person to find the facts.

        Hope this helps.

        Reply
        • Thanks leslie for the response/information. That’s interesting. I hope that the Banning wind turbine farm is working out well. Some people say that wind turbine farms are ugly, but i do not have an opinion either way. I like the Banning Pass & Palm Springs area, but they are both quite dry and brown looking most of the time. Not sure if wind turbine farms add or takeaway beauty from the area. Or maybe it just remains the same.

        • climatehawk1

           /  January 10, 2015

          Here is a thorough response to the “14,000 abandoned turbines” misinformation: http://www.aweablog.org/blog/post/fact-check-about-those-abandoned-turbines-_1

      • lesliegraham1

         /  January 10, 2015

        Whether they are ‘pretty’ or not is irrelevant if we want to keep the lights on.
        It’s not like we have a choice.
        For interest I think it is aroung 76% in Scotland find them ‘attractive’.
        The windbaggers (fossil-fuel lobby groups) who oppose them on ‘aesthetic grounds’ apparently find fracking fields and tar sands mines beautifull. There’s no accounting for taste.
        One important aspect in favour of windfarms is that, if some hitherto unimagined future technology renders them obsolete, it is a simple matter to remove them and use the materials for something else.
        Not quite the same story when it comes to hundreds of thousands of tons of radioactive waste with a half life of thousands of years. In fact, given the likely demise of organised co-operative society if we continue our current suicidal path, it would be a good idea to start the forty year process of decommissioning our existing nuclear plants while we still have the manpower, the expertise and a society still capable of organising such a thing.
        It would be tragic if we survived extinction from climate change only to be wiped out by the fallout from 450 unattended nuclear reactors melting down.
        Happy New Year.

        Reply
  5. Currently 15% in UK thanks to the high winds from Atlantic lows, not including smaller turbines off grid. Denmark is doing the world a great service by practically demonstrating what is possible.

    Reply
    • Absolutely. Meanwhile, in red states, it appears that homeowners, utilities and installers like Solar City are drawing battle lines to see who will own the solar renaissance. As panel prices keep dropping things are bound to get interesting. The conflict in Georgia this year was a big eye opener. Florida next…

      Reply
    • lesliegraham1

       /  January 9, 2015

      Scotland generated over 100% of her electricity from wind alone in November 2014 and sold the rest.
      Just one month – and and a very windy and mild one at that – but it shows what can be acheived.
      Scotland exceeded its renewable energy target, set in 2007, for 31% of total power generation coming from renewables by 2011, and the 2020 target for the renewable share of total electricity generation has been raised from 50% to 100%
      She also has something like a quarter of all the wind resources in Europe with a potential ready market via HVDC cable just accross the North Sea. When independence is achieved she will be one of the richest countries on Earth as a result – presuming we still have a functioning global economy by then that is.

      Reply
  6. Reblogged this on jpratt27.

    Reply
  7. Nancy

     /  January 8, 2015

    Cape Wind has major setbeck due to two utilities opting out of power purchase:
    http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2015/01/06/major-setback-for-cape-wind-project/kggnYeAXRj03PyfIUn2iIM/story.html

    Sadly, the utilities and fossil fuel forces in Massachusetts may have stopped the Cape Wind project from being built. It appears the dirty dealings of the utilities and the fossil-fuel-funded “Alliance for Nantucket Sound” have proven too much for Jim Gordon, the wind farm developer. It’s been almost 15 years and not one turbine has been built due to the lawsuits brought by the fossil fuel funded “Alliance” (Peabody Coal, Koch families) as delaying tactics.

    Supporters of Cape Wind traveled to Denmark in the early 2000s, and after talking to the locals about the wind farms and taking boat tours with local fisherman, came back even more enthusiastic about the project. One of them told me that the Queen of Denmark has a view of the wind farm from her bedroom window. Wind turbines are OK for a Queen, but not OK for the Koch Bros or the rich people who live along the waterfront on Cape Cod. Sickening!

    Reply
    • Sounds to me like it’s time for a wind ballot initiative. With sea level rise, the sooner more wind is installed the longer they get to hold onto their oceanfront properties.

      Reply
  8. The big business/big oil strategy seems to be

    1. Depress and demoralize people about renewable energy and other sustainability solutions as much as possible.
    2. Which keeps people hooked on the same old crap (fossil fuels, bad practices) if they buy it.
    3. Which allows cynical pricks to capitalize on disasters and … Wait for it…
    4. Make billions selling geo-engineering ‘solutions’ that probably won’t work.

    Hello pure oil company energy gamesmanship. It’s not just a race to the bottom. It’s a race to the evil.

    It’s as if cigarette companies had a stake in lung cancer treatments that would ultimately be more profitable with the most extreme risk of patient death.

    Reply
    • wili

       /  January 9, 2015

      There’s another step:
      5. Point to (not-actually-effectual) geo-engineering and carbon sequestration schemes as reasons why we don’t actually have to reduce CO2 emissions.

      The moral hazard risks of geo-engineering may be even more dangerous than the ‘unintended consequences’ they inevitably create.

      Reply
      • I see them both as risks we need to steer broadly clear of. There’s too much special interest influence for geo-engineering to be clean. The fact that oil companies have an interest in these applications being used increases the likelihood that they will produce unintended consequences. The reason is that the special interests are less focused on effective methods than on simple excuses to continue burning.

        In any case, the methods are likely to be dangerous (SRM) and/or inneffective (Ocean Spraying) or downright costly (Atmospheric Carbon Capture).

        It’s always been a more sure fire and effective use of resources to reduce carbon emissions as low as possible. We may need the Atmospheric Carbon Capture method. And if things get really bad people may cry out for the SRM. But that doesn’t make it any more likley to succeed, less dangerous, or more desirable.

        Reply
      • Iron seeding doesn’t seem as if it will lock up CO2 for long in the Southern Ocean

        http://www.nerc.ac.uk/latest/publications/planetearth/win14-location.pdf

        Reply
  9. Andy in San Diego

     /  January 9, 2015

    I was reading this paper tonight and found it interesting, thought I would share.

    Something you really don’t hear about is ice algae. As sunlight shifts from dark mode to light mode (winter to summer), an algae bloom occurs on the bottom side of shelf ice, multi year ice and first year ice. This occurs at both poles.

    This algae grows rapidly, dropping into the water and acts as a primary food source for phytoplankton. That of course acts as a food source for a food chain / ecosystem in the regions.

    We’ve heard of the drop off of phytoplankton, and it is generally referred to as the base component in the food chain. Ice algae precedes phytoplankton in the food chain.

    And as ice recedes as it does in the Arctic, what happens to the ice algae? Lower extent, as well as a shorter lifespan for first year ice provides less space and less time for ice algae to propagate / thrive and contribute to the food chain.

    Anyway, if anyone is interested here is the paper.

    http://courses.pbsci.ucsc.edu/eeb/bioe120/PresentationPapers/Lizotte2001.pdf

    Reply
  10. james cole

     /  January 9, 2015

    Denmark is easily seen to be a major player in wind. I took the ship from Sweden across the Kattegat Sea, as you approach the coast of Denmark the wind mills sprout into sight out of the sea, and along the coast, catching hill tops where wind is steady. On the flight from London Heathrow to Göteborg, as the plane descends along Denmark, you can look out and see the windmills at nearly every point on the map.Sweden’s west coast on the Kattegat Sea is looking more and more like Denmark now, with windmills along the coast where winds blow strong. Farmers fields are favorite sites, taking a tiny patch of ground, and making energy and providing local jobs and revenues for the farmer. It is win win all around. Yet in the USA, I see nothing anything like this.

    Reply
    • The Koch Brothers have an attack dog law firm that rips into any off-shore wind project that gets proposed. Given the adversarial conditions it’s a wonder the US just adopted the most EVs in the world, added 6.5 gigawatts of solar and is the host to companies like Tesla, Sunpower, and Solar City. Of course, we have California and a whole boatload of progressive minded folk who like the idea of getting the locals good jobs, helping the environment, and taking the steam out of fossil fuels.

      Just saw two more good news reports. US to install 20 GW solar over next two years (market forces are going to eat the Kochs alive on this one. It’s starting to look like trying to stop apple). And looks like Tesla sold more than 3k model S’s in December. 120K EVs so far this year with sales going up through the low gas price month of December.

      The new Bakken is the battery… And a much cleaner Bakken it is.

      Wind is coming back too. I wonder what will happen once the Kochs realize the gig is up? Maybe go back to failed attempts to RE-segregate NC schools.

      Reply
    • 27 F near Zemlya in the Arctic Ocean. That’s crazy hot for this time of year. Of course, Donald Trump is still using his media empire to take issue with all of climate science. I think we should fly him to Svalbard to go live on a melting glacier…

      Reply
      • Andy in San Diego

         /  January 9, 2015

        We’re doing quite poorly for Arctic ice this winter. Besides the low extent, as you are pointing out the high temps will raise that thermal density. Throw in the SSTA under that ice. Thats a bad combo.

        Reply
        • That’s a pretty bad winter trend. Could be looking at lowest levels on record in a few days. Those storms near Greenland suck a bit of the MY ice out with each shot. A section still stranded in the Beaufort, though.

      • Andrew Dodds

         /  January 9, 2015

        Cycled to work today.. looked at the outside thermometer, it said 11 degrees (C, 52F). Didn’t quite believe it, what with it being pitch dark and early January, ended up with far too many clothes on.. Should have worn shorts.

        Reply
      • bill h

         /  January 11, 2015

        I would guess somewhere similar to me:southern England. We are experiencing near record high temperatures just now along with the high winds. The two tend to go together in the British winter. Hence our record breaking 2014 warmth and the relentless battering in the early part of 2014.

        Reply
    • climatehawk1

       /  January 9, 2015

      Denmark doesn’t have the Kochs. But check out parts of Indiana and Illinois. Illinois has gone from un-developable to one of the top five states in wind power, thanks to taller towers, larger rotors, and more sophisticated wind resource measurement.

      Reply
  11. Andy in San Diego

     /  January 9, 2015

    Groundwater depletion. Data + images courtesy NASA – GRACE.

    Reply
    • And we know it was worse for 2014.

      But man was that a stark progression. GFS shows this week’s storms just evaporating and turning north away from California. The block is back…

      Reply
    • climatehawk1

       /  January 9, 2015

      The average U.S. household uses more water (in effect) in the form of electricity than for any other purpose (like bathing, cooking, etc.). Wind and solar power, unlike thermal plants (including nukes) and hydro, use no water to generate electricity.

      Reply
      • If you transition to renewables and cut your meat intake, you can drastically reduce your per capita water footprint. You’re right to point out that most per capita water use isn’t in bathing/cooking/cleaning.

        Reply
    • bill h

       /  January 11, 2015

      Wow, GRACE is a powerful tool. Furthermore the recent good agreement between it and the European Space Agency’s Cryosat satellite on polar ice volumes suggest it’s pretty reliable too

      Reply
  12. I really do appreciate your on-going analysis and hopium Robert, but to expect that we’re on anything other than a direct course with climate catastrophe is frankly delusional.

    Sure, we do our bit – our family “only” owns one car, we recycle and promote localization etc. etc. as do any thinking people – but ultimately it’s all a charade.

    The mining, fishing, burning and consuming is ACCELERATING on a global level.
    We’re not even remotely pulling back from the brick wall approaching us at an increasing speed.

    Even Germany, held up as beacon of success in transitioning to a green economy is increasing its coal use – and the dirtiest of coal at that!

    “Between 2011 and 2015 Germany will open 10.7 GW of new coal fired power stations. This is more new coal coal capacity than was constructed in the entire two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall”

    http://theenergycollective.com/robertwilson190/328841/why-germanys-nuclear-phase-out-leading-more-coal-burning

    It’s difficult to come to terms with our predicament, isn’t it?

    Reply
    • We can break the various crises down into —

      1. Climate change
      2. Overpopulation
      3. Resource depletion

      This combination represents our current Growth Shock.and yes, if we don’t respond on a global level then we are probably at least looking at civilization collapses over the next century for human beings and many extinctions for the poor creatures who will almost certainly be taken down with us.

      If we do respond, depending on the level of severity of these crises, we have varying levels of chance of making it out. In truth, though, the ultimate shape of the crisis is not exactly defined. At best, we have model simulations that are only as good as the assumptions involved. At worst, we have a number of blow hards telling us EXACTLY how they think things will be. And, in general, it is these people who tend to be the least accurate as they turn a blind eye to their own assumptions.

      What I do know is that the greater and more effective our response, the better our chances. As an example, the amount of global resources aimed at the problem of preventing and mitigating climate change is shamefully low. At best, it might be 1/5th of 1 percent. In comparison, 25 percent of global financial resources went to fighting World War II. An expenditure of that nature and related cut back in consumption would, in just a few years, halt current human greenhouse gas emissions. A similar expenditure would easily put in place, in a few more years, a level of atmospheric carbon capture that would then begin to bring global ghg levels down. To my mind, this is obviously something we are capable of and yet, because many if us are convinced that the crisis is not so dire, or who because of ideology have become crippled to the notion of group response, or who believe that we are doomed and no response is worthwhile, we have simply chosen not to respond in ways that are rapidly effective.

      Instead we gamble on free market solutions or gradual transitions that are not so immediately disruptive to current economies and wealth pools. We go small on response and the crisis grows. And those of us with hope keep pushing to continue and increase the scale of that response.

      My job here is both to identify the crisis as it is — worsening and very bad so long as we fail to respond — and to keep beating the drum on the absolute imperative to respond.

      When talking to those like you, I sometimes feel as if I’m sitting in a car hurtling toward a brick wall. But the car is controlled by votes and only a very few people can even vaguely recall the importance of the use of breaks. Some say — breaks don’t work so why use them? Others say going fast now is fun — who cares about brick walls? Still others say we should use the parachute now that was meant to be deployed after using the breaks (geo-engineering) and is likely to cause the car to careen off the road under current acceleration. So it’s left to the rest of us to keep shouting — use the breaks!

      As for this nonsense about Germany’s nuclear phase out … I see that this year German coal use fell by 11 percent and that Germans are adding 5 GW of renewable energy each and every year.

      The Germans are applying the breaks. And for them it is working to transition them away from fossil fuels. Yet for those of you who are allures by doom, you would rather sabotage Germany’s transition. This would thus render geo-engineering the only option once people begin to grow desperate. A few billionaires are banking on this set of circumstances, hoping to capitalize on the disaster your kind of thinking helps to render ever more inevitable. And the oil companies, well, they love it, because it gives them every excuse to keep pushing their oil/crack/frack.

      I’ve said it before. If you want pure doom, you won’t find it here. Here is the call for action and the best understanding of the current crisis I can compose. And from my point of view, it looks like your mindset contributes to a terrible and growing global problem.

      Reply
      • wili

         /  January 9, 2015

        “who believe that we are doomed and no response is worthwhile” I guess I believe we are pretty well ‘doomed’ (extremely catastrophic consequences are now unavoidable) but I also believe with you that it is absolutely imperative to respond.
        It is certainly hard to use this as a rousing cry to action, though. I think of Chris Hedges recent statement: “I don’t fight fascists because I know I’ll win; I fight fascists because they’re fascists.”

        Reply
        • England thought it was doomed during WW II and probably had every right to. Sometimes you have to put up a fight and see how the chips fall.

  13. On a tropical island, fossils reveal the past – and possible future – of polar ice

    “By examining fossil corals found on the Indian Ocean islands, University of Florida geochemist Andrea Dutton found evidence that global mean sea level during that period peaked at 20 to 30 feet above current levels. Dutton’s team of international researchers concluded that rapid retreat of an unstable part of the Antarctic ice sheet was a major contributor to that sea-level rise.

    “This occurred during a time when the average global temperature was only slightly warmer than at present,” Dutton said.”

    http://news.ufl.edu/archive/2015/01/on-a-tropical-island-fossils-reveal-the-past–and-possible-future–of-polar-ice.html#prettyPhoto

    Reply
  14. For many, it is difficult to face up to what they see as an inevitability. In this sense, it is like death itself – people ignore the plight of the planet in the same way that they ignore their own inevitable demise. When it becomes impossible to ignore, the Kübler-Ross stages of grief can be observed from different quarters: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. I think that all of these have been apparent, even on this forum, at various times.

    The above is only true when catastrophic CC is regarded as inevitable. For those who don’t accept this premise, the analogy with death no longer applies. RS, for me, strikes the balance between refusal to accept that we are inexorably headed for an apocalyptic scenario while coldly and realistically looking at the alarming facts. This leaves a bit of space for optimism (albeit a small bit)!

    My first post here. Thank you for the excellent work, Robert.

    Reply
    • mikkel

       /  January 9, 2015

      I have to disagree about one point Luke. For me at least, it’s more like having late stage cancer where logically you know you should be doomed and go through the stages of grief, but once you reach the acceptance phase then it is freeing. This is because you are then allowed to start living to the best of your ability without attachment to the outcome.

      Or in other words, you can live within entirely new rules and free yourself from your past identity.

      Even if there isn’t catastrophic CC, there has been (and will continue to be for quite a while) catastrophic environmental destruction, leading to grief as well.

      Here is an excellent essay about the need to acknowledge this http://aeon.co/magazine/psychology/rosemary-randall-climate-change-psychoanalysis/

      In that sense, I think it’s more effective and wise to willfully enter the grief stages — and lose optimism — in order to get to acceptance. At that point there is no optimism, only will to live and prosper the best you can; which includes focusing on helping others.

      Reply
      • Good article, and wide-ranging.

        I agree that even if we don’t accept that the Earth is terminally ill, a lot of it is trashed, for sure, and the acknowledgement of that is similarly painful. It is important not to allow the Generational Amnesia of which Colorado Bob talked in a previous post to narrow the frame of reference when realising this.

        Optimism for me comes in the form of the incredible regenerative powers of nature.

        Reply
  15. We all need to do what Denmark is doing, but probably also (much) faster.

    I checked the latest available CO2 per capita emissions for Denmark, it was 8.3 t CO2/year (2010). Any newer data somebody? CO2e would be probably higher, but lets ignore it. So if the whole world would have 8.3 CO2, our global emissions would be almost 60 billion tons of CO2 (almost doubble the current rate). So Denmark would need to go to less than 1.5 tons CO2 per capita per year, and even then CO2 concentration would maybe stop rising. I see no way of what could make them to begin to decline, except the VERY SLOW absorption by the biosphere.

    Best,

    Alex

    Reply
    • Atmospheric carbon capture is probably the best human option. But I think it’s probably only practical to scale that to about 5 percent of current emissions given the state of the tech as it stands. Which is why getting human emissions down as low as possible, as swiftly as possible is so critical.

      Reply
    • As for carbon emissions per capita — that’s probably the most recent data publicly available. It’s worth noting that a primary reason Denmark’s CO2 emissions aren’t, overall, lower is due to the fact that they have so much meat consumption per capita. And meat, especially beef is very CO2/carbon intensive due to heavy industrialization of meat farming together with the fact that cows are ruminants.

      Sweden, which has similar programs RE renewables but doesn’t consume so much meat is at 5.3.

      There are two issues with meat farming when it comes to carbon emissions — if you can do it with zero fossil fuels the carbon intensity drops significantly. With ruminants, it just makes sense to also shrink the industry — which we can help to do by eating less beef/milk/cheese.

      Reply
    • wili

       /  January 9, 2015

      “We all need to do what Denmark is doing” Yes, we could learn a lot from their approach to energy. But they also have one of the highest meat consumption rates per capita in the world, iirc. That is not something that can be widely adopted.

      Reply
  16. Andy in San Diego

     /  January 9, 2015

    Some forecasting for Brazil regarding their drought.

    Cliff Notes (from this article & other spelunking).

    * Coffee price going up (perhaps 40% in commodities)
    * Rain in the SE region restoring the hydro electricity generation are somewhat. Still lower than this time for January end ( ~41% end of Jan 2014, ~30% end of Jan 2015 forecast)
    * Sao Paolo region looking at ~50% of normal rainfall for January (this provides about 0.5 to 1.5% restoration in Cantareira System tops).
    * Soy regions getting drought
    * Northern Brazil dry
    * Blocking high part of the equation for keeping areas rainfall free
    * Record high temperatures
    * Coffee trees stressed and will not simply “bounce back” immediately if rain does show up

    http://www.cnbc.com/id/102324728#.

    Reply
    • Andy in San Diego

       /  January 9, 2015

      RE: The line item for Cantareira

      NOTE: Cantareira depletes at ~3.0% to 3.5% per month. If they get 50% normal, that it ~140 mm. By my calculations (so very rough estimate), 25 mm = 0.1% to 0.2% restoration.

      Therefore ~140mm = 1.1% restoration best case with that amount of rainfall.

      Combined with usage this is a net loss of ~2% for January, leaving them at ~5.8% end of January.

      *********************

      More realistic – ~150mm rain @ ~0.15% per 25 mm. This is a net inflow of 0.6%.
      Outflow for January dropping to ~0.05% / day (~1.5% for January)
      Net Loss ~0.9%

      Leaving ~5.9% at end of month.

      Reply
    • Thanks for this update, Andy. Great work!

      Reply
  17. Andy in San Diego

     /  January 9, 2015

    Now this is not something you normally see in early January.

    Sea Ice Extent, Jan 6 -2015: 12617633
    Sea Ice Extent, Jan 7 -2015: 12582720
    Sea Ice Extent, Jan 8 -2015: 12572767

    Jan 6 to Jan 8, -44866 km sq

    Data is at:

    http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/seaice/extent/plot_v2.csv

    Reply
    • We do tend to get these small recessions now and then. But since they’re so close to record lows they are certainly worth pointing out.

      Reply
  18. JPL

     /  January 9, 2015

    Looks like Scotland took a good lashing last night:

    “A gust of 113mph was recorded at Stornoway on Lewis, the strongest gust since records at that site began in 1970, while a gust of 110mph was recorded at Loch Glascarnoch in the Highlands.”

    “The storm came as the result of a sudden fall in pressure – circumstances similar to the so-called “weather bomb” that hit the country in December. But while severe warnings were issued at the time, the damage caused was not as extensive as feared. Today’s disruption has been far more widespread.”

    http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jan/09/scotland-railways-reopen-after-110mph-winds

    John

    Reply
    • And Arctic amplification does its dirty work again. Props to Francis for predicting this. Most still aren’t listening, but we had one hell of a dipole this week with Arctic temperature anomalies there hitting + 3.6 C. If the near El Niño is putting a damper on this I will hate to see the next La Niña.

      Reply
      • Hi, Robert,
        Glad to hear your voice again in the present tense,🙂

        Now, I.m no ‘doctor’ — but I think this patient is running a fever:

        Reply
  19. Andrew dodds

     /  January 9, 2015

    Reply to above: somerset, SW UK. 14 degrees and strong winds.. Don’t think we’ll see much snow this year..

    Reply
    • Thanks Andrew. There’s been quite a meridional flow originating off FL and terminating near Svalbard throughout this Dec-January.

      This week, we’ve returned to the amplified storm track pattern we saw last year. Should abate a bit soon. But you’re right. Doesn’t look like much cold for you guys this year.

      Reply
    • 950 mb low bombing out between Greenland and Iceland again… #2 in the pipe.

      Reply
  20. Steve

     /  January 10, 2015

    It’s reports like this that make me think that the existence of two political parties in the US is just a ploy by the wealthy & most powerful interests controlling the country to deceive people and keep them divided. They keep people thinking that things will change with new leaders or shifts in which party has the majority. I have a very bad feeling Keystone is a done deal and it will get approved soon before the climate gets much worse. Either the president caves after his legal excuse gets removed or Congress gets the votes to remove his power to veto.
    Yes I’m biased. I love the Gulf of Mexico and I don’t see any concern for it from either party.
    http://news.yahoo.com/obama-administration-sued-over-gulf-mexico-fracking-171356618.html

    Reply
  21. Steve

     /  January 10, 2015

    Article number two that inflences my thinking that most statements from our politicians that express concern for our climate don’t reflect their true feelings.

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/markets/2015/01/06/deep-water-oil-production-gulf/20752155/

    Reply
  22. Put a piece on this in one of my blogs, with links:

    http://volewica.blogspot.com.au/2015/01/denmark-kicking-fossil-fuels-addiction.html

    Good work.

    Thanks.

    Reply
  23. Christina

     /  January 10, 2015

    Thank you for the great research and helpful commentary. I was inspired by the article to look into getting a residential wind turbine to offset my families current energy needs. Does anyone have experience with this or recommendations?

    Reply
    • climatehawk1

       /  January 14, 2015

      A good place to start is the Distributed Wind Energy Association (http://www.distributedwind.org). Also Bergey Windpower (http://www.bergey.com) is one of the best manufacturers of small systems. Be sure to read up first and understand the nature and limitations of the technology–you will probably need a 120-foot (35m or so) tower to raise a small turbine high enough to get wind speeds to make it economical (not that money is a critical issue, but economical also implies that it’s generating more energy). Unlike solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, there is a definite economy of scale with wind turbines (larger ones have a lower cost of energy). Bergey has a good site with lots of factual information.

      Reply
  24. I am seeing increasing calls for a massive Green investment programme over in the UK. This may run if we can rid ourselves of the Right in May’s election.

    http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/jan/12/printing-money-fund-green-investments

    Reply

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