A Beautiful Machine to Change the World — Model 3 to Transform Global Automobile Markets, Open Pathway For Rapid Energy Transition

“The Tesla Model 3 is here, and it is the most important vehicle of the century. Yes, the hyperbole is necessary.” — Motor Trend

“The arrival of Tesla’s Model 3 signals a new chapter in automotive history, one that erases 100-plus years of the gas engine and replaces it with technology, design, and performance hot enough to make electric vehicles more than aspirational – to make [electric vehicles (EVs)] inspirational.” — Wired.

“[T]here isn’t anybody who’s going to sit in the driver’s seat of this car and not want it. The Model 3 stokes immediate desire, and the lust lingers. That truly changes everything.” — Business Insider.

(The Tesla Model 3 entered low rate initial production in July of 2017. There has likely never been a more anticipated, desired, or better reviewed automobile. Image source: Tesla. )

*****

More than half a million. 

That’s the number of pre-orders Tesla’s Model 3 has racked up since its 2016 product announcement and through its July 2017 launch. And it’s possible that there’s never been a car that’s so anticipated, so desired by the public. People are literally clamoring for this best-in-class, long-range, all-electric vehicle. Elon Musk is getting harassed on twitter by followers anxious to know when their Model 3 will be ready for purchase. And it’s questionable if Elon’s plan to go through ‘mass production hell’ to reach 500K per year annual production rates by end 2018 will ever come close to satiating demand for what is far more than just an amazing automobile (Tesla reports it is still accumulating reservations at a rate of 1,800 per day net, or more than 12,000 per week).

If we were to tap into what drives Model 3 customers, what fuels this particularly virulent brand of Tesla-mania, we’d probably find a dynamic combination of desire, aspiration, and fear. Desire for what is hands-down an absolutely awesome vehicle. Aspiration to contribute to a public good through a meaningful purchase. And a growing fear that we need to move very swiftly away from fossil fuels to confront the rising crisis that is human-caused climate change.

Beautiful Machines

The vehicle itself is just simply extraordinary. For 35,000 dollars you can get a car with a 220 mile all-electric range. For 44,000, the car’s renewable legs lengthen still further to 310 miles. This graceful beast can rocket from 0-60 in less than six seconds. And her interior is wrapped in the kind of bubble cockpit, due to glass roofing, that most fighter pilots would envy. She’s a vehicle that gives a nod to the simplicity of earlier times with her gadget-less dash board. Her liquid exterior a reflection-in-form of the plasma-producing energy of a futuristic, but quietly purring, all-electric drive train.

(Tesla’s beautiful machine launches. Top down view shows iconic glass roof. Image source: Tesla.)

Elon Musk has delivered to us the exact opposite of a clunky automobile made up of all the worst excesses of a stinking smokestack civilization. The Model 3 comes across as a bold and proud creature of air and light. A hopeful machine designed in the pursuit of a better future day, a better way forward.

Changing the World for the Better

And this is what brings us to the heart of the matter. The crux of the reason why hunger for the Model 3 is quite possibly without cure, without limit. People in advanced civilizations these days are tired of being the butt of blame. And they are more than a little worried about what may be coming down the Keystone XL pipeline of climate change. They don’t want to contribute to the great death and harm that is worsening climate disruption with their purchases. They no longer want to be consumers captive to the unforgiving, smog-belching yoke of fossil fuels. They want the vehicular equivalent of the paladin’s white horse. They want to buy into a liberation from an age of pain and heartbreak and endless bad choices with no visible way out. And with each Model 3 purchase — that’s exactly what they are doing.

(Tesla aims for 5,000 vehicle per week Model 3 production ramp by late fall. Image source: Tesla.)

For if Tesla is able to meet this visceral demand for a truly renewable vehicle, if the company is able to ramp up to 20,000 + vehicle per month production rates, it will, by itself, more than double the size of the U.S. Electrical vehicle market in just 1-2 years. The batteries the elegant Model 3 relies on will form a basis for extending the reach of already affordable wind and solar energy (as we are seeing this week in a new wind + battery deal off Massachusetts). And the seismic ground wave produced by the Model 3 will drive a major spike in demand for other, similar electrical vehicles from an expanding array of automakers.

The Model 3 is thus the tip of the spear for speeding an energy transition in the U.S. and in many other countries. And she couldn’t have come at a better time.

Advertisements
Leave a comment

150 Comments

  1. Nancy

     /  August 2, 2017

    I’ve driven my Volt for 3 1/2 years and rarely need to fill up since I mostly drive locally, but this Tesla, with a 200+ mile range is a game-changer. I can’t wait to start seeing them on the road.

    As a side note, a local business owned by a conservative republican, recently installed two charging stations for his customers – one for Tesla and one is universal. He obviously can see the writing on the wall for electric vehicles (plus I think there was a tax benefit for him!).

    Reply
  2. Bill H

     /  August 2, 2017

    Well, I love my Nissan leaf, which I picked up for 6,800 GB pounds a year ago. I do feel you’re over-egging the pudding somewhat, Robert. “Creature of air and light”? Well, no, it’s steel, aluminium, glass, plus batteries containing lithium, organic solvents), etc. A fair bit of fossil fuel input there.

    That said it’s range is a significant step in electric vehicles’ displacement of ICE vehicles.

    Reply
    • At over half a million reservations now and net daily reservation rates of 1,800 per day presently– which is ahead of the projected production of 10,000 vehicles per week next year — I don’t think it’s possible to over-egg this pudding.

      In any case, yes, the model 3 is a creature of air and light, despite its constituent parts, in that it enables both wind and solar as well as kicking that nasty old oil habit. 😉

      Reply
  3. climatehawk1

     /  August 2, 2017

    Tweeted. Very happy with our two EVs thus far, especially with the absence of any tailpipe emissions (or tailpipe, for that matter :)).

    Reply
  4. Jacque

     /  August 2, 2017

    I am not up to date, probably, on any introduction of high-clearance, 4WD electric pick-up trucks (but I am trying to keep up with the news), which many of us in the West require to even get out of our own driveways. Our alternative is to make long shopping lists and to make our 200 mile round-trip shopping journeys once/month, in order to use a minimum of fossil fuels. Whenever I see a new, cool-looking tiny car in a parking lot, i always take note of the very few inches it is above the ground! And the lack of heavy-duty shocks! I guess the truck manufacturers expect everyone driving pickup trucks to be redneck Repubs, and feel there isn’t a market there. – Impatient southern Utah canyon-country Scribbler reader

    Reply
  5. Jeremy in Wales

     /  August 2, 2017

    Larsen-C continues to fracture towards the Bawden Ice Rise

    http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Observing_the_Earth/Copernicus/Sentinel-1/Does_loss_lead_to_instability

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4752610/Trillion-ton-iceberg-drifts-Larsen-C-ice-shelf.html

    Question is whether this leads to further instability or whether the ice sheet stabilises and then re-grows?

    Reply
  6. This is nice, but we’ll need a lot more than electric cars. Public transportation, real urban density–the things that obviate a need for cars. We need far more less. You don’t solve overconsumption by buying different things.

    Reply
    • Actually, you solve a lot of problems by transitioning from fossil fuel consumption to renewable energy consumption. And of course we all support public transport. But that doesn’t change the fact that 80 million vehicles per year are produced. Changing that from fossil fuel vehicles to EVs is orders of magnitude lower externality.

      Reply
      • Mblanc

         /  August 3, 2017

        Dex has a fair point, but I don’t think that seeing the Model 3 as one of the most important moments in motoring history, has to mean that one is advocating for the rampant consumerism that has helped to bring us to our current predicament.

        EV’s come in many shapes and sizes, from buses to scooters, and all are part of an essential revolution in personal transport of all kinds.

        Hats off to Elon Musk, for a technical tour de force.

        Reply
        • So I was disappointed to read the hit piece by George Monbiot in the Guardian yesterday. I think we, as environmentalists, have to ask ourselves how much service these kinds of absolutist arguments do our cause. Are people in the UK going to stop buying automobiles any time soon? Is the same true with the rest of the world? And how much power do those with Monbiot’s views have to stop them?

          Some would say that the ideal of a carless society is one we should all pursue. Damn all potential progress and alternatives. OK, then how? How do we stop people from wanting cars? How do we halt the 80 million vehicles per year in the production chain? How?

          Back in 2004, Monbiot wrote another big hit piece on biofuels. Well, I’d like to say that biofuels are a whole lot less damaging than fossil fuels. Despite this fact, Monbiot basically served up a huge gift to the fossil fuel industry on a big silver platter. And all out of this anti-car zealotry.

          Now, there’s a better offering than biofuels. Far better when it comes to gross externality. Far better when it comes to aiding the speed of a transition to renewable energy that every environmentalist worth their salt should pursue. And Monbiot’s at it again. At this point, you kind of have to say — WTF???

          For, in the end, these vehicles that Musk is producing will not only enable a massive reduction of harmful carbon emissions, they will also enable a reduced number of vehicles per person. The automated systems that Musk is putting in the vehicles will enable ride sharing (another environmentalist goal) like never before. And this trend, as others have noted on this forum, will seg nicely with the younger generation’s lowered desires to own a vehicle. I think the very least we can say is that Monbiot, in this case, has missed the forest for the trees. If he’s really at all interested in reducing global carbon emissions, he should support the EV transition. It is easy enough to say something like — EVs produce a far lower externality and when mated with ride share can result in less vehicles produced and a lowered overall manufacturing footprint. That would be an accurate statement. The present one is far too unqualified and vitriolic for my taste.

          But reading it I can see where some of the commenters here get their views and why they are generally so hopeless. Yet one more case of an imagined perfection being the enemy of the good.

        • Jeremy in Wales

           /  August 3, 2017

          I agree that Monbiots piece was dissappointing but living in the UK I know where he was coming from. I hate driving into England as it often becomes one giant car park with jams on all the major roads. Even in the small town I live by the traffic is several times heavier than 25 years ago, it is amazing finding on You Tube some video made in the early 1990s driving around a town you know, on a market day, and seeing how little traffic there was and how few parked cars there were.
          But like you Robert I think Monbiot is just writing to be controversial and is not wanting to see the possibilities this technology brings, car sharing, leasing by the hour/per journey, personal freedom for more of the elderly. We cannot even make this UK government stick to promises to electrify railways, how he thinks we can impose more radical change at this moment in time is beyond my powers of imagination.

        • Thanks for the perspective, Jeremy.

          Living here in the D.C. area, I can certainly feel your pain. We have a metro system that local and federal governments have short changed for some time. The result is added pressure to the local highways. I’m all for more public transport, but how can I get my government to invest in it when they’re strung up by dumb ideological arguments and gridlock? Do I wait until something happens or do I do something myself and buy an EV? Yes, I’d love to see a hyperloop and electric buses. Where are the policies that support this?

          My wife and I share one car. If we didn’t have it, we couldn’t meet our transport needs here in the Metro Area. I ride my bike when I can and when I feel it’s safe. But some roads aren’t safe for bikes. Do I risk my life or ride in my EV?

          Both my wife and I have family in locations that are only convienantly accessed by cars. Of course we could take the train and add expense — asking our families to meet us at the station at odd hours. Do I add work stress and family stress and reduce visiting times between myself and my family or do I use an EV?

          The EV considerably reduces my personal greenhouse gas emissions. The EV battery in my vehicle can be used to power an increasingly renewable grid after the vehicle is long gone. And purchasing the EV adds economic and investment interest to non fossil fuel technologies. With politicians standing on the sidelines, I’m going to do something rather than nothing. I’m going to get an EV.

          Please see:

          https://www.nrdc.org/experts/luke-tonachel/study-electric-vehicles-can-dramatically-reduce-carbon-pollution

        • Bill H

           /  August 3, 2017

          Robert, Jeremy,

          I think Monbiot’s fears have been realised in many parts of the world, e.g. Borneo, where the rain forest has been largely destroyed to make way for Palm Oil, while the huge increase in maize production has contributed to soil erosion in many parts of the world, including the UK.

          Also, Jeremy, why do electric cars enable things like car sharing in a way that ICE cars don’t? Don’t get me wrong: I love my Nissan Leaf,

        • The overall level of externality from biofuels is less than that of fossil fuels. Monbiot’s unqualified attacks were half wrong — which didn’t make them right. When it comes to EVs, we’ll call them 80 percent wrong, 20 percent right.

        • The issue is not that you can’t ride share with an ICE. But that an ICE considerably contributes to the problem of global warming and toxic air pollution while an EV provides solutions to these problems. I think that point would be obvious. Are you defending ICEs, Bill?

        • Robert- I think Bill was referring to something in one of your posts:
          “The automated systems that Musk is putting in the vehicles will enable ride sharing (another environmentalist goal) like never before. ”

          Elon Musk wants to computerize some of his EV cars to be able to drive themselves. At that point you could have a small fleet of EV s that could go around picking people up and dropping them off without a driver. This would mean that a neighborhood might have 10 shareable cars instead of each household having 2-4 cars each. I believe that is what Robert is referring to.

          https://electrek.co/2017/04/29/elon-musk-tesla-plan-level-5-full-autonomous-driving/

        • Maybe so. If that’s the case, the way the question was asked may have thrown me off a bit.

          There’s nothing keeping automation out of ICEs, though. It’s just that Elon has seamlessly linked his highly computerized EV with automation which arguably provides a superior platform. This has enabled EVs to be market setters for automation. And the stated goal of Tesla has been sustainability in the form of reduced overall numbers of vehicles on the road which would result in a greater overall positive environmental impact by EVs if they had higher automation penetration and ride share capability rates.

        • Bill H

           /  August 4, 2017

          Titania, Thanks for your eirenic intervention! Actually, my question on driverless capability was a reference to a comment in this thread made by “Jeremy in Wales”.

    • Great, but still (in the spirit of your comment :)), important to not make the perfect the enemy of the–i would say ‘good’, but ‘better’ seems more appropriate. That’s a favorite pastime of folks in the progressive realm, and MHO is that it is not very constructive.

      Reply
      • Allan Barr

         /  August 4, 2017

        I totally agree with your Points of view regarding Tesla Robert and the sooner the better we transition out of ICE. If moral arguments and logic do not work for some, perhaps greed might. Renewables are up on average 20% while fossil fuel companies are down on average 10%. Tesla is up over fifty percent with Huge ongoing growth prospects in the future. Thanks for posting this positive article.

        Reply
  7. Greg

     /  August 2, 2017

    Poetic there Robert. Can’t imagine if you had written this after a test drive! The reviews have been excellent so far. Other manufacturers are taking notice and redirecting billions to electrification. I am of course a huge fan of this industrial ecosystem Elon is building as it creates its own momentum and gives Elon, and thus his bigger plans, real political and economic power. You might add that this car is designed for an autonomous future with all the sonar/lidar hardware and software and driver instrumentation simplicity before even government approval. The very near future entails actually less cars as the need for ownership will drop with autonomy. Late September should be the Tesla truck and possibly pick-up reveal. Stay tuned.

    Reply
    • Mblanc

       /  August 3, 2017

      Thankfully the youth don’t seem to want to play the status/display game of car ownership, which is a blessing for us all.

      Look at me and my ostentatious car is just so last century. 🙂

      Reply
    • The more I look at the problem of emissions, the more I realize it’s a legacy industry issue. Elon’s doing the right thing by building whole new non fossil fuel dependent industries from scratch and linking them together in a synergistic form. The various products appear to be very solutions oriented and take forms that make them very easy to apply, use, and look at.

      On a related note, I’ve just discovered that present steel manufacturing would benefit from metallurgical electrolysis which is more efficient and cost competitive than traditional coal based metallurgical furnaces. In other words, you can mate renewables based electricity with steel production and save on costs.

      https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/cleaner-cheaper-way-to-make-steel-uses-electricity/

      The more you poke the strawman of inevitable fossil fuel emissions from the production chain, the more stuff just falls out onto the floor. What it’s really all about is protecting old investments and old profit streams. But there’s a better, more efficient way to make goods. One that doesn’t involve fossil fuel burning. It’s just that countries and industries need to make the investment to switch.

      As with EVs, I can see some progressive industrialist taking advantage of this more efficient metallurgical process to overcome older markets and take larger market share. Ironically, this is a capitalistic process — but with serious social and societal benefits. One whose fruits could later be socialized with appropriate and wise policy.

      One final point, I think German clinging to coal is a legacy steel industry issue. But I think if we had a few new thinkers move into that industry, then there’d be a good opportunity for rapidly transitioning away from carbon emitting infrastructure and coal burning in general in the state. Similar for Australia and China. Given how effective China is at build-outs, this would be a big opportunity for them as well.

      Reply
  8. Greg

     /  August 2, 2017

    Tesla quarterly report today with a few nuggets including first solar roof installs for employees so far. (You are so right Robert. We are fed up with having such poor choices and being blamed.)
    http://insideevs.com/tesla-2017-q2-earnings-revenue-beats-expectations-bullish-outlook-continues/

    Reply
    • Greg

       /  August 3, 2017

      A newly installed Tesla Solar roof, image taken by an employee on his phone:

      Reply
    • That’s a great looking roof. I hope they cultivate relationships with big building companies and even reach out to locals. It would be nice to make this kind of roof a standard for new construction.

      Reply
  9. John Gilkison

     /  August 2, 2017

    Love it, but even though I am not looking to replace my PHEV until January 2021 I don’t think it will be possible to get one even then? I would like to get one just for access to the Tesla fast charging network but may have to buy a alternative just because this availability problem.

    Reply
  10. Troutbum52

     /  August 3, 2017

    Go download Tony Seba’s report on the coming disruption of the transportation industry. Quoting, ” By 2030…. 95%of all US passenger miles will be served by on demand autonomous electric vehicles owned by fleets, not individuals…”

    https://www.rethinkx.com/transportation/

    Reply
  11. We are very happy with our Nissan Leaf which we have now owned for 3.5 years. On the last service I had this past winter the guy told us that the battery was practically as good as new still (we have been trying to charge it to max 80% almost all the time and only fast charged it 6 times so far). But then again we have only driven it some 35000 km so far.

    The minimalism of the Tesla Model 3 intrigues me though and it surely looks like a fantastic car with the added automation/driver assistance that many other auto makers (including the new Nissan Leaf) are scrambling to implement. But it seems to me Tesla is light years ahead of the competition there due to their “learning fleet Model S/X” which have been on the roads for some time now. Well perhaps Google is a bit more ambitious as they feel driver assistance is not good enough since you need full autonomy to actually have a real and productive advancement in technology (they have a great TED talk about this).

    If I were to point at one bad thing about the Model 3 design is that it isn’t a hatch-back like most of the other electrical cars. You wouldn’t believe what I have been able to transport with the Leaf by folding down back chairs and getting a rather substantial cargo capacity that way.

    Still wish Tesla good luck and fortune with this Model 3 and since I am in Norway, I am sure to see a lot of them on the road considering the popularity of the Model S and X here, and the fact that 30% of all cars sold here now are either fully electric or plug in hybrid.

    Reply
    • Thanks for these thoughts, John. Am happy to see such progress ongoing in Norway. Hopefully, we’ll get to 30 percent EV penetration here in the U.S. soon.

      Reply
  12. I’m really over cars and I do wonder why it has a top speed of 130mph or an acceleration of 0-60 in a less than 6 seconds. I suppose making it attractive to the motor lovers is one way of getting them to push themselves to afford (or, perhaps, pretend to afford) what is still an expensive car.

    I hope the buyers of this car don’t think that’s it now; their job is done and they can continue being inefficient in travel (pulling around 1.5 tonnes of container to get from A to B is hardly an efficient or environmentally friendly way of doing it). Even if electric cars become the norm, by becoming affordable (I think that’s a big IF, given the resources needed), continuing the car culture will just continue the environmental destruction (most of which, at the moment, isn’t caused by climate change).

    Of course, the Tesla Model 3 is not without associated emissions and pollution either in its construction or in its operation. No doubt an all electric transport system, if it’s possible, would reduce emissions from what they would be with a primarily fossil fuel powered system but it isn’t going to help a great deal if growth continues and if people think that’s all that is needed to avoid catastrophic climate change. We need to change behaviours to stop damaging the only environment we have. This ain’t gonna do that.

    Reply
    • Surely you can do a better hatchet job on the new Tesla than that? You have neglected to mention even once that Tesla is over capitalized and not making a profit. ;>D

      Your comment here is typical of people who are paid to disparage renewable energy. Are you one of those people, Mike? Let’s count the slurs against EV’s in general and Tesla in particular, shall we?

      1) Tesla is needlessly fast.
      2) Tesla is marketed to “motor lovers” who conspicuously consume.
      3) Tesla 3 is expensive
      4) Tesla 3 is heavy = not efficient or environmentally friendly.
      5) Tesla 3 manufacture causes GHG production. Electricity production is GHG producing.

      And, added style points for dropping the “C” bomb: all EV progress is meaningless because
      evil Consumption continues.

      Meanwhile, back at the farm, there is much to celebrate. The transportation sector is the largest emitter of GHG’s in the economy. EV’s drastically reduce, if not completely eliminate that pollution. And let us be really clear here:

      AGW is caused by GHG’s in the atmosphere. Not by Consumption. Or fast cars. Or expensive cars. Or heavy cars. Or cars that are fun to drive. AGW is caused by greenhouse gases.

      AGW is reversible. And we will do it incrementally. By eliminating the needless burning of carbon fuels, not just on the roadways but also in our manufacturing processes. Energy consumption per se is NOT the enemy. Greenhouses gases are the enemy. The number of people on the planet per se is NOT the enemy. Greenhouses gases are the enemy.

      And people paid to disparage progress are the enemy.

      Reply
      • As I get older the more I understand the saying that “the perfect is the enemy of the good”.

        One case I would make an exception for, where a great deal of caution is needed, is the claim that natural gas is a viable bridge mechanism for replacing coal-fired electrical plants. Between the long-lived (30 to 40+ years) infrastructure involved, the CO2/MWh ratio is 50% that of coal, not zero (not counting fugitive emissions), and the surface and subsurface impact of intensive natural gas production is far from harmless. It is entirely possible that gas would be a costly detour rather than a bridge, slowing the move to all-renewable (+/- nuclear) energy economy.

        Reply
        • Jim

           /  August 3, 2017

          +1 to your comments Magma. As for EV’s part of your comment – what Musk has done is prove that affordable EVs can be fun to drive, and almost every major automaker has been brought to similar conclusions kicking and screaming all the way. I’m sympathetic to comments about individual car use being relied upon too much vs public transit, but that logjam won’t break until the grip of the fossil fuel majors is weakened or destroyed.

          As for Natural Gas as a bridge fuel, it’s beginning to be questioned in some quarters such as Australia where high electric prices already make renewables + LiIon storage cost competitive with peaking gas power plants. Already 66% of global new energy installations are renewables, and the pace is increasing. Combine that with the plummeting price of LiIon batteries (Thanks Elon) and the combined output of 20 hugh battery factories being build worldwide, and it will soon be evident that renewables and storage are the way to go. Hopefully we don’t see too many stranded gas generators installed in the meantime…

      • I’m not against renewable energy, I’m against the destruction of our environment. If people think that all you have to do is use an inefficient mode of transport to save ourselves then they are sadly deluded. We need behavioural change, first and foremost. All this fanfare about fun motors is a distraction to that very critical change. This stuff is rarely thought through because most people want to believe that life can go on pretty much as it has done for the last few decades. It even gets wrapped up in the word “progress”.

        Reply
    • “…in seven months, we emitted more carbon than the oceans and forests can absorb in a year, we caught more fish, felled more trees, harvested more, and consumed more water than the Earth was able to produce in the same period.”

      https://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/08/02/earth-exhausted-humans-have-already-consumed-planets-annual-resources

      Reply
    • “This means that in seven months, we emitted more carbon than the oceans and forests can absorb in a year, we caught more fish, felled more trees, harvested more, and consumed more water than the Earth was able to produce in the same period.”

      https://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/08/02/earth-exhausted-humans-have-already-consumed-planets-annual-resources

      Reply
    • What a load of absolute nonsense. Net lifetime emissions from an EV are between 1/2 and 1/10th that of a fossil fuel vehicle including manufacturing. And the more renewable the grid becomes, the less fossil fuels are used in materials production, the lower that fraction becomes.

      Talking about efficiency, EV engines are far more efficient that ICEs, so even when mated to fossil fuel heavy grids you get a net reduction in carbon emission. But the big gain comes from the ability to use EVs as part of a renewable energy chain that ultimately phases all emission-based energy systems out.

      Failure to recognize this is failure to recognize basic facts.

      Please see:

      https://www.nrdc.org/experts/luke-tonachel/study-electric-vehicles-can-dramatically-reduce-carbon-pollution

      Reply
      • Jeremy in Wales

         /  August 3, 2017

        There is another big gain from electric and that is in the area of human health. Current cars are huge emitters of particulates and NOX which are estimated to lead to early deaths of some 38,000 people per year worldwide. Beyond that many people suffer poor respiratory health.
        https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/may/15/diesel-emissions-test-scandal-causes-38000-early-deaths-year-study
        In addition there is the aesthetic, less noise overall, clearer skies with reduction in haze.
        Even if car ownership remained the same as now these gains are surely worthwhile in themselves.
        One thing that is never mentioned is that the automation should lead to cars obeying speed limits despite what the owner might want to do, and this in of itself could lead to a reduction in accident fatalities and serious injuries (perhaps the lack of noise and faster acceleration could though counter balance this).

        Reply
      • 1/2 to 1/10, Robert? Well, half the emissions is still going to be pretty bad. What is the transition from EVs, in the second half of the century, when we find we are nowhere near zero emissions? EV’s are not the way of the future. At best, they are a stepping stone, at worst they enable delay in the ultimate transition we’ll have to make.

        Reply
        • Bill H

           /  August 4, 2017

          Mike, try re-reading Robert’s comment, specifically:

          ” And the more renewable the grid becomes, the less fossil fuels are used in materials production, the lower that fraction becomes.”

          That leaves the carbon emissions due to manufacture of the vehicles, the main one of which would be in producing the steel. There again, in this thread, Robert reports on a breakthrough in CO2-free steel making: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/cleaner-cheaper-way-to-make-steel-uses-electricity/

        • Indeed, and in Norway where we get practically all our electricity from hydro electric the steel industry is substantially cleaner than everywhere else.

          http://www.hydro.com/en/About-aluminium/Aluminium-life-cycle/Primary-production

          http://sip1.vestforsk.no/pdf/Felles/MetalProduction.pdf

        • Hydro is horrendously damaging to eco-systems.

        • Considering that 1/6 of the worlds electricity is generated from hydropower, the areas involved are not that bad. Compared to the damages of burning coal and gas its infinitely better.

          Here are all the dams in Norway and the areas they take mapped out:

          https://www.statkraft.com/energy-sources/hydropower/maps-over-catchment-areas-in-norway/

        • John, of course, it’s always possible to think of something worse, though difficult to measure. But it’s still very damaging. Some people want to do more of it because they think it’s more convenient that changing behaviour.

        • Bill, “the more renewable the grid becomes …” is not pointing to a fact, it’s pointing to a hope. So that doesn’t just leave manufacturing. And until that breakthrough becomes a reality with most manufacturing, we have nothing.

          I’m not trying to be negative but I think we always need to insert reality. Yes, there will always be potential solutions to some problems and there will always be new ideas. But until those potential solutions are actual solutions we can’t assume that they will all pan out. It is also possible that we can’t electrify every single energy use and can’t produce all of that electricity by renewable means. It’s also true that, currently, renewable energy infrastructure can’t be built using only renewable resources and renewable energy. Until we start getting close to that, it remains possible that we can’t have our cake and eat it too.

          It’s the eleventh hour and we’re now keeping our fingers crossed that technology, somehow, will save us rather than having to change our lifestyles. Sadly, it is our lifestyles that have done most of the damage to our environment, up to now, with climate change trying to catch up in the damage stakes. So not changing our lifestyles is not really going to help us or future generations.

        • Bill h

           /  August 4, 2017

          Mike, your statement that Robert’s assertion about future reductions in carbon intensity is not a fact is true in the trivial sense that any prediction about the future cannot by definition be a fact. Your dismissal of it as a mere “hope”, however, is ridiculous. The carbon intensity of global electricity generation has been falling at a rate of 1.3 % per year since 2000, but in 2015 this had increased to 2.8%. So, Robert’s prediction about further falls in future is a rational prediction based on very strong evidence, not some “hope” to be dismissed in the way that you have done.

          Mike: ” I am not trying to be negative”: yet, nevertheless, succeeding 🙂

        • Bill, you’re right to a degree but I was also responding to your notion that it is a foregone conclusion by your next sentence: “That leaves the carbon emissions due to manufacture of the vehicles”. If the decarbonisation of the electrical grid continued to full decarbonisation, then that would indeed leave just the emissions of manufacture (in the case of electric vehicles). But that we would get that far is, currently, hope, since, currently, renewables are, to some degree, made possible only by fossil fuels and many countries are a long way from even having renewables as the main electrical generator, plus the generation would have to increase by a third (if some calculations I read a while ago are correct) to accommodate electric vehicles.

          I would love to be positive, Bill. But I also try to be a realist. Let’s look at the whole picture, rather than a portion of it.

        • Bill h

           /  August 4, 2017

          Mike, this conversation is becoming, as the youth of today would say, “meta”. The sentence that you attribute to me is actually Robert’s, so I have no idea as to what “foregone conclusion” it might imply.

  13. This strange spot in the Atlantic is resisting global warming. Scientists think they know why.

    Pointing to these results, the researchers suggest that melting Arctic sea ice has likely already had a significant influence on the weakening AMOC, and may continue to play a major role in the coming decades

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/08/02/this-strange-spot-over-the-atlantic-isnt-getting-warmer-scientists-think-they-may-know-why/?utm_term=.fff269db9b03

    Reply
    • Thanks TDG. Yep. The North Atlantic cool pool.

      Reply
      • Jeremy in Wales

         /  August 3, 2017

        Responsible for another wet and cold summer here in the UK, I have almost been tempted to put the heating on again. We almost have a 6 month autumn now. Plus in the last two winters hardly seen a flake of snow.

        Reply
        • Bill H

           /  August 4, 2017

          Cold Summer? Not according to the Met Office. See the temperature anomaly graphs (including, specifically, Wales):

          http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/summaries/anomalygraphs

          May and June were both significantly above the 1980-2010 average, while July was pretty well spot on for the average. Are you sure you’re not falling for that perennial British fault of assuming that the weather in the past was better than it is now?

        • Yes I think a lot of people have poor memories about what temperature used to be before. Same here in Scandinavia which generally gets some of the same weather as UK.

          If you check the amount of rain though they are both very high compared to the average before for both june and july – same over here. A few records have been broken here in Norway this summer, among them the amount of consecutive rainy days where I live in western part.

        • Bill h

           /  August 4, 2017

          John,

          I’m glad to hear that Brits are not alone in their amnesia about the weather.
          I agree with you about rain for June and July, though, following a very dry winter we needed it.

        • Jeremy in Wales

           /  August 4, 2017

          Yes April & May very nice but June and July have been wet and it feels cold (making joints ache), probably because it is damp. Probably worse in memory because the worst of the weather has been saved for weekends! But there are also substantial differences between the SE England and N Wales, it is currently 3°C warmer in Brighton than in my village.

  14. Does it seem odd that Trump just put sanctions on 3 big Oil states?? Russia, Venezuela and Iran?..LIfe is all about fossil fuels seems to me.

    Reply
    • Well, not quite sure Trump wanted Russia in that mix since Rex and Putin (or his shadow who runs the oil business) are buddies. But yes, its all about fossil fuels. No doubt one possible reason for this is to actually strengthen US exports of LNG to Europe and to make it harder for Russia – as the sanctions affect Russias ability to build pipelines too. In that way Rex wins either way.

      Personally, I feel as long as Russia has annexed parts of another sovereign country, its really up to them to lift the sanctions any time they want by withdrawing and giving back Crimea and eastern Ukraine. Hampering fossil fuel exports from Russia certainly is a kick in their nuts then since its their main income.

      Getting off fossil fuels is really important to reduce this kind of nonsense. The faster the better.

      Reply
  15. After modifying my commuting, including changing to a workplace closer to home and carpooling, I’m retiring an older car in favor of a plug-in hybrid, albeit one with limited range. (I live in a region with 90% non-fossil fuel electrical generation). I calculate that this should reduce my fuel consumption by a further 60 to 70%.

    I would have preferred an all-electric vehicle but found the availability and selection too limited at this time. So I chose to lease for three years, thinking the situation would likely change by the time the lease is up.

    From a technical point of view, a plug-in hybrid is sort of a kludge, combining all of the individual components and complexities of both an ICE vehicle and an EV one, plus additional components to ensure the two systems will play nicely with each other.

    The fundamentally simpler engineering and better performance, durability and safety of all-electric vehicles should soon (i.e. 5 to 10 years, 15 at most) relegate gasoline and diesel-powered light vehicles to obsolescence.

    Reply
  16. Abel Adamski

     /  August 3, 2017

    Talking Batteries
    http://grist.org/briefly/toyota-says-its-on-the-cusp-of-a-major-electric-vehicle-breakthrough/

    Toyota says it’s on the cusp of a major electric vehicle breakthrough.

    The automaker revealed last week that it had achieved a sought-after improvement in existing lithium-ion technology by developing a “solid state” battery.

    Solid-state batteries — which, as you may have guessed, have solid electrolytes rather than the usual liquid — are more expensive than traditional lithium-ion cells, but they can charge incredibly quickly and store a lot more power. (Plus, they’re less likely to explode.) Toyota says it plans to release a family of cars with the new technology in 2022.

    That’s a long time away, and a lot can happen in the process of developing a new technology, but Toyota’s early announcement suggests the company is confident it can deliver on its promise, Axios reports.

    And since demand for electric cars has been driving advances in energy storage that make renewable energy look more and more attractive, we’re excited to see what will happen to solar and wind power by 2022.

    Reply
    • bostonblorp

       /  August 3, 2017

      Lithium batteries are steadily improving and in 5-10 years should be at a place where they can fully supplant ICE except in cases like jets or specialty equipment like mining equipment. That written, I would love to see a generational improvement come along such as John Goodenough’s cell which could make traditional LiON batteries obsolete.

      Tangentially related and a very interesting outlier.. California utilities work to make up for 4 gigawatts of power loss during upcoming solar eclipse. https://www.livescience.com/59412-total-eclipse-will-affect-solar-energy-production.html

      Reply
      • Allan Barr

         /  August 4, 2017

        According to Elon Musk, 99% of battery breakthrough claims are pure bullshit, I will believe anything coming from legacy automakers along with their vaporware EVs when I see it in production. John Goodenough is freeloading and taking credit off Maria’s breakthru, tsk, tsk. Dan the canadian battery man working for Tesla just DID enable a breakthrough in Lithium Ion battery life however, DOUBLING the effective life which in effect Halves the true cost. He is one year into a five year Tesla contract, so the Good Professor and his graduate students are doing winsomely. Tesla is following all battery developments around the world, and will sign agreements with anyone who comes up with a superior advancement. https://news.utexas.edu/2017/02/28/goodenough-introduces-new-battery-technology

        Reply
        • Bill H

           /  August 4, 2017

          Allan,your cryptic comment: “John Goodenough is freeloading and taking credit off Maria’s breakthru, tsk, tsk” intrigues me. I know Goodenough is the man credited with inventing the LI ion battery, but who’s this “Maria”?

  17. Nancy

     /  August 3, 2017

    This looks good for transforming transport too, a 650 mph levitated rail train in a tube https://hyperloop-one.com/ they just did a successful test run

    Reply
  18. Ed

     /  August 3, 2017

    More good news: the Germans are coming — organizing their contribution to the global increase in battery supply.
    Bloomberg: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-03/germany-giving-gigafactory-a-home-in-latest-challenge-to-tesla

    The announcements are stating to come faster and faster, as individual elements of renewables technology reach their inflection point.

    Reply
  19. wili

     /  August 3, 2017

    Meanwhile, in the living world, things continue to deteriorate:

    “Study finds human influence in the Amazon’s third 1-in-100 year drought since 2005”

    https://www.skepticalscience.com/human-influence-amazon-droughts.html

    Reply
    • Yes, Wili, although climate change has played a part, it’s likely that deforestation has also been a big factor. Trees play a tremendously large role in precipitation and the continual removal of trees has a big impact. And this is an example of how, even if we can mitigate climate change (an absolute necessity), we won’t halt ecosystem damage unless we change our behaviour.

      Reply
  20. eleggua

     /  August 3, 2017

    ‘The Climate Lab That Sits Empty’
    Hillary Rosen July 28, 2017

    “BOULDER, Colo. — Behind a locked door on the ground floor of a new University of Colorado science center here, a laboratory outfitted with specially reinforced concrete floors sits dark and empty, like a dining room set for a guest who never arrived. In this case, the no-show is a $2 million, 12-ton machine that is vital to addressing global warming….”

    Reply
  21. eleggua

     /  August 3, 2017

    ‘Defying E.U. Court, Poland Is Cutting Trees in an Ancient Forest’
    July 31, 2017

    “WARSAW — Defying an order from the European Union’s highest court, the Polish government said on Monday that it would continue logging in Bialowieza Forest, the last primeval forest in Europe and a habitat for hundreds of bison.

    The decision is the latest challenge by Poland to the legal authority of the European Union, which Poland joined in 2004, and could result in financial penalties. The arch-conservative and nationalist government that took power in Poland in 2015 has been chastised by the authorities in Brussels; last week, it was formally warned that its efforts to consolidate power over the judiciary in Poland threatened the rule of law.

    The Bialowieza Forest, a Unesco World Heritage site, is a relic of ancient woodlands in the middle of the European lowlands, at the border of Poland and Belarus….”

    Reply
  22. eleggua

     /  August 3, 2017

    ‘Rome, City of Ancient Aqueducts, Faces Water Rationing’
    July 27, 2017

    Reply
    • eleggua

       /  August 3, 2017

      ‘Vatican shuts down fountains as Rome deals with drought’
      July 25, 2017
      http://www.catholiccourier.com/articles/vatican-shuts-down-fountains-as-rome-deals-with-drought

      “…The office governing Vatican City State announced July 25 that the drought has “led the Holy See to take measures aimed at saving water” by shutting down fountains in St. Peter’s Square, throughout the Vatican Gardens and in the territory of the state.

      “The decision is in line with the teachings of Pope Francis, who reminds us in his encyclical ‘Laudato Si” how ‘the habit of wasting and discarding’ has reached ‘unprecedented levels’ while ‘fresh drinking water is an issue of primary importance, since it is indispensable for human life and for supporting terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems,'” the office said….”

      Reply
  23. eleggua

     /  August 3, 2017

    ‘Fertilizers, a Boon to Agriculture, Pose Growing Threat to U.S. Waterways’
    July 27, 2017

    Reply
    • eleggua

       /  August 3, 2017

      ‘Projected precipitation increases are bad news for water quality’
      Aug. 1, 2017
      https://www.princeton.edu/news/2017/08/01/projected-precipitation-increases-are-bad-news-water-quality

      “…“Nitrogen runoff into rivers must be reduced considerably — more than previously estimated — to maintain the same levels of nitrogen flow into coastal waters as today,” said Balaji. “While it is now quite widely accepted that shortages of water for drinking or agriculture could be quite disruptive of life in the 21st century, this and other studies show that we must be concerned not just about water quantity, but quality.”

      “The authors demonstrate that areas with high fertilizer usage, high precipitation amounts in the present and robust projected increases in precipitation are most likely to see increases in nitrogen loading in the future,” said Kirsten Findell, a research physical scientist in the Climate Change, Variability and Prediction Group at GFDL. Findell, who earned her B.S.E. in civil engineering at Princeton, is familiar with the research but had no role in it.

      “This result has important implications for land use management in the United States and beyond, and demonstrates that water quality concerns cannot be tackled without considering changes in precipitation characteristics,” Findell said.

      Balaji and his colleagues’ model is specific to the United States, but they also identified India, China and Southeast Asia as regions at high risk for large increases in nitrogen pollution due to increased precipitation by 2100. Balaji suggested that “risk management for future eutrophication is indeed a problem of global scope, magnified by projected changes in precipitation patterns.”…”

      Reply
    • Oklahoma loves the Koch Brothers Tea Party Giant fertilizer plant .Who needs water..
      .http://www.enidnews.com/news/progress/koch-fertilizer-expansion-continuing-east-of-enid/article_1a11e5d2-fbc9-11e6-8243-7330f80199e2.html
      A long-term commitment

      When Koch Fertilizer started expanding, it was one of North America’s largest fertilizer plants, making ammonia fertilizer and urea fertilizer, he said.

      “Through this expansion, they are almost doubling the size of their output, out at that facility,”

      Reply
  24. eleggua

     /  August 3, 2017

    ‘7 earthquakes struck Oklahoma in 28 hours for a disturbing reason’
    Aug. 3, 2017

    http://www.businessinsider.com/oklahoma-earthquakes-why-2017-8

    “… The wave started on Tuesday night, when five quakes struck the central part of the state, and extended into the early hours of Thursday as two more hit, according to the United States Geological Survey.

    All of the earthquakes were between magnitude two and five and no significant damage was reported. However, the shaking is part of a troubling recent phenomenon. The disposal of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing (also known as fracking), appears to have spiked the likelihood of earthquakes in Oklahoma, potentially raising the state to the same earthquake threat level as California, according to a recent USGS forecast…”

    Reply
    • eleggua

       /  August 3, 2017

      ’10 earthquakes recorded in the Sooner State within 24 hours’
      August 3, 2017

      http://kfor.com/2017/08/03/10-earthquakes-recorded-in-the-sooner-state-within-24-hours/

      Reply
      • eleggua

         /  August 3, 2017

        ‘Oklahoma City-area earthquakes prompt new investigation’
        August 03, 2017

        http://www.kansas.com/news/business/article165138392.html

        “Utility regulators and geologists said Thursday they suspect a series of earthquakes in the Oklahoma City metro area — home to about a third of Oklahoma’s population — which knocked out electricity to some residents in the wealthy suburb of Edmond, were caused by nearby disposal of wastewater from oil and gas production….

        The Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which regulates utilities, said Thursday that the most likely cause is the injection of wastewater from oil and natural gas production into disposal wells in the area known as the Arbuckle formation, although there is a fault line in the area.

        “We are looking at this as an Arbuckle well issue, even though there are no Arbuckle disposal wells right there on that fault,” commission spokesman Matt Skinner said.

        Jacob Walter, the Oklahoma state seismologist, noted that there are injection wells within 6 miles (10 kilometers) of where the quakes struck.

        “It may be a case that this fault has been activated by past injections,” Walter said. “Even if you stopped wastewater injection in Oklahoma tomorrow, we would still see seismicity for a number of years … earthquakes beget other earthquakes.”…

        Scientists have linked a dramatic increase in quakes in Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas in recent years to the underground disposal of wastewater from oil-and-gas production.

        Oklahoma experienced a few dozen earthquakes of a magnitude of 3.0 or great in 2012, and got more than 900 in 2015. After state regulators ordered oil and natural gas producers to close some injection wells or reduce the volume of the fluids they inject, the number dropped to closer to 600 in 2016….”

        Reply
    • Leland Palmer

       /  August 4, 2017

      To be fair, these are small earthquakes. As the magnitude goes down, the number goes up, and the Richter scale is logarithmic. So a magnitude 4 earthquake is 10 times bigger in energy than a magnitude 3.

      Nobody likes fracking or wastewater injection from fracking. I certainly don’t. But the concern about large numbers of small earthquakes might be overblown.

      Reply
      • Leland Palmer

         /  August 4, 2017

        I wasn’t very clear, above. As the magnitude of earthquakes goes down, the number of earthquakes increases. This is just another way of saying that there are more small quakes than big ones.

        Could swarms of small quakes produce a big one? Maybe. Or maybe small quakes would tend to release built up strain in the earth incrementally, and decrease the magnitude of big ones. Or some mixture of both, or neither.

        I hope that we start using BECCS (Biomass Energy with Carbon Capture and Storage) to put CO2 back underground. That would involve injecting large volumes of CO2 into basalt formations, or injecting even larger amounts of carbonated water if the Icelandic Carbfix injection scheme is used. We might need to do this, to save the biosphere, and it might produce swarms of small earthquakes.

        Reply
        • USGS told Okla that even if the quakes stopped there would still be a danger of “The Big One” happening..I cannot remember the geological reason why they said this was a danger .. will try to find Cushing the Pipeline Capital of the world is in danger

        • ohttp://www.cbsnews.com/news/oklahoma-could-be-in-danger-of-major-earthquakes/For residents in Oklahoma, thousands of tiny earthquakes in the past five years have mostly been annoying.

          But a new study in Geophysical Research Letters suggests the future could be more dire, with the state possibly seeing larger temblors. It found that the same fault lines that have triggered earthquakes of between 3 and 4 magnitude are capable of producing events as high as 6.

          The study, led by Dan McNamara, a research geophysicist at the U.S. Geological Survey, found that there were 3,639 earthquakes in Oklahoma between late 2009 and 2014, which was 300 times more than in previous decades. Several of these earthquakes caused damage and many were felt, with over 153,000 individual reports for 474 separate earthquakes entered at the USGS.

          Many of those quakes occurred on average 3 miles underground along the Nemaha and Wilzetta fault zones, broad cracks in the Earth’s crust in central Oklahoma that were originally formed 300 million years ago during what was then called the Pennsylvanian period or the late Carboniferous period.

  25. Robert McLachlan

     /  August 3, 2017

    To add some numbers to the “making cars emits GHG” debate, the Union of Concerned Scientists studied this in detail: http://www.ucsusa.org/clean-vehicles/electric-vehicles/life-cycle-ev-emissions. The upshot is that to produce a smallish ICE car emits 6 tons of CO2, and to produce a smallish EV (eg Leaf) emits 7 tons. The ICE car emits 3 tons/year from driving, the EV (potentially) none. Looking to the future, as the production chain is electrified with zero-emission electricity, let’s say the EV can be produced with 5 tons of emissions, lasts for 10 years, and serves a household of 3 people. That’s 0.17 tons/person/year, which fits easily within a global carbon budget of 1.5 tons/person.

    Food, now, that’s another matter…

    Reply
    • Thanks for the addition here, Robert.

      Reply
    • Leland Palmer

       /  August 4, 2017

      The reason it takes tons of CO2 to produce cars is just that that’s the cheapest way to make cars right now, I think. Long term, with solar as the power source, there is no reason that I know of that producing vehicles cannot be carbon neutral. Some CO2 is emitted by steel making, but petroleum coke could be replaced by biomass coke, I think. Since the carbon in the biomass coke came from the atmosphere originally, that makes it net carbon neutral, long term.

      I’ll read your link with interest, though, thanks.

      Reply
      • Allan Barr

         /  August 4, 2017

        Someone just came up with a more efficient way to manufacture steel using electricity only. Major breakthrough.

        Reply
        • Bill H

           /  August 4, 2017

          Robert (scribbler) mentions this further up this thread with the reference to the Scientific American article. Could be a major breakthrough.

        • Abel Adamski

           /  August 4, 2017

          The Swedes have been on this for some years, well on the way to commercial production

        • Leland Palmer

           /  August 4, 2017

          There you go. No real need to produce CO2 to make cars. That’s just the way we produce cars, now, because fossil fuels are so embedded in our technology. As we wring more and more fossil fuels out of our technology, the CO2 produced per car will go down…and I think could go to zero.

    • What is this budget you’re referring to, Robert? Is that 1.5 tons per person or 1.5 tones per person per year? The latter would be nearly 12 billion tons per year, by the time that we get to 8 billion people, which won’t be long. That’s more than a quarter of current estimated emissions. Why would that be OK? Also not sure about the 0.17 tons/person/year calculation. That seems to be for everything being optimal, ignoring transport of goods, and only 1 car for every 3 people (though it’s probably way better than that at the moment but, with developing nations wanting their slice of the pie, who knows what the future will bring). In reality, it would be a long time before that optimal position was reached, if ever.

      Reply
      • AGW is a complex problem, requiring a complex solution. In a multi-pronged approach, no prong is sufficient, but every prong is essential.

        You seem to be arguing that nothing should be done unless it can be all done at once. Am I misreading you?

        Reply
        • Kermit, yes, you’re misreading me. I’ve mentioned it a number of times, so I’m surprised you think that I think nothing should be done. Behavioural change is needed, not a technological fix.

        • Leland Palmer

           /  August 5, 2017

          I disagree. Behavioral change is slow, and it is hard to affect statistical averages that way. What we need, I think, is massive technological change.

          We can’t wait for people to stop driving cars to fight global warming.

  26. Greg

     /  August 3, 2017

    In wide release Friday:

    Reply
  27. wili

     /  August 4, 2017

    Things are bad, and they’re looking to get much, much worse:

    “Deadly heat waves projected in the densely populated agricultural regions of South Asia”

    Science Advances, Vol. 3, no. 8, e1603322, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1603322
    http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/8/e1603322

    Abstract: “The risk associated with any climate change impact reflects intensity of natural hazard and level of human vulnerability. Previous work has shown that a wet-bulb temperature of 35°C can be considered an upper limit on human survivability.

    On the basis of an ensemble of high-resolution climate change simulations, we project that extremes of wet-bulb temperature in South Asia are likely to approach and, in a few locations, exceed this critical threshold by the late 21st century under the business-as-usual scenario of future greenhouse gas emissions.

    The most intense hazard from extreme future heat waves is concentrated around densely populated agricultural regions of the Ganges and Indus river basins. Climate change, without mitigation, presents a serious and unique risk in South Asia, a region inhabited by about one-fifth of the global human population, due to an unprecedented combination of severe natural hazard and acute vulnerability.”

    It looks like Wallace-Wells wasn’t too far off the mark after all. It turns out some of the currently most densely populated places on the planet “are likely to approach and, in a few locations, exceed this critical [wet bulb] threshold by the late 21st century under the business-as-usual scenario of future greenhouse gas emissions.”

    Reply
    • wili

       /  August 4, 2017

      More here:

      “Climate change to cause humid heatwaves that will kill even healthy people”

      (It should say ‘especially’ instead of ‘even’)

      https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/aug/02/climate-change-to-cause-humid-heatwaves-that-will-kill-even-healthy-people

      Reply
    • With regards to losing habitability due to heat in certain regions — Wallace-Wells was pretty much spot on. The reticence on that particular point was surprising to me. I suppose it might be possible for people to live mostly indoors, to wear cooling apparatus, to rely on air conditioning. But just to deal with the heat, people would need a good deal of assistance. This doesn’t even begin to mention the stress to crops and water supplies such extreme heat would bring.

      India, through the Middle East and Africa, parts of southern Europe, the U.S. Southwest, and parts of China and Southeast Asia are the areas of highest concern. However, the lethality of heatwaves considerably worsens with even a relatively small degree of additional warming beyond the present 1 to 1.2 C above 1880s. And the current range has already loaded the dice for far more intense conditions than we are used to.

      Reply
      • wili

         /  August 4, 2017

        Thanks, rs. I think many Americans have a false sense of the feasibility of everyone living in AC. The US is about the most air conditioned nation on the planet, and has been for quite a while. So it’s become kind of normalized and expected. But the vast majority in the global south do not have access to AC, are not likely to any time soon, and frankly it would be something of an environmental catastrophe in itself to supply every person on the planet with AC, as far as I can see.

        It should smack every person on the planet like a two by four between the eyes to learn that we are on track to make a small but then rapidly growing number of places on the planet uninhabitable for (an expanding) part of the year. If that isn’t a wake up call, it is really hard for me to figure out what would be.

        Reply
  28. Leland Palmer

     /  August 4, 2017

    It is so wonderful to see some hopeful climate news. I plan on buying one of the long range ones, and should have the money for the 1000 dollar refundable reservation fee in November.

    Elon Musk is one of my heroes, along with Joe Romm, John Cook, and Robert. Good work, you guys.

    Reply
  29. greenman023

     /  August 4, 2017

    “Beautiful Machines”…. this is such a blinkered American view..

    The car be it electric or not is the most detrimental form of transport ever invented.
    Electric cars are a false paradigm, little more than old lamps for new.

    What you need in America is a rail system that works..

    Personally I wish Elan Musk and all the new billionaires would get into a space X and F.O to that planet in the upper sphincter nebula most of them seem to already live on.

    Reply
    • Mmm, I won’t have quite put it like that. 🙂

      But a decent public transport system would certainly reduce the need for cars. Here in NZ (or most of it), such systems don’t really exist, making a car a perceived necessity.

      Reply
    • Leland Palmer

       /  August 4, 2017

      The solar energy resource is immense. Using solar energy, we can have a technology that does not harm the planet, including electric cars and trains and whatever.

      What we can’t do, if we want to live, is stomp all over the sensitive CO2 and other greenhouse gas trigger mechanisms in the atmosphere. The earth is immense and tough…if we just stay away from a few sensitive trigger mechanisms, I think.

      Reply
    • From NRDC:

      “Electric vehicles and a clean grid are essential to arresting climate change”

      If you want carbon out of the system, EVs are a part of it. We’d all like public transport, but the ability to provide enough of that to substantially replace the more than 1 billion fossil fuel based vehicles presently on the world’s roads is insurmountable. A very healthy public transport system and well designed cities might knock this number in half.

      In other words, if you’re a purist who’s against EVs altogether, who doesn’t even make a reasonable qualified statement like ‘I prefer public transport and bikes because there’s lower resource use and it doesn’t feed in to consumer society, but I recognize a practical need for electrical vehicles in some applications going forward’ you’re tacitly against transitioning away from fossil fuels by actively working to block a key solution.

      In such a case, you’re not really a ‘Greenman’ but a man dipped in oil, whether you realize it or not.

      Reply
      • We’re all dipped in oil and will remain so for a long time. EVs don’t get us off oil, only behavioural change will do that. Maybe there is some way for all energy to be produced by renewable means and maybe there is some way for that energy to be produced sustainably. Maybe. But that is not the current situation. And the delivery of a few Tesla Model 3s doesn’t really bring that future any closer.

        I just wish all the enthusiasm for unsustainable “solutions” could be redirected towards realistic approaches. As I’ve written, any solution (if it works at a meaningful scale, and that is a big IF) that purports to maintain the current paradigms of never ending growth and consumptive lifestyles, will only, at best, slow the environmental degradation, and doesn’t even acknowledge that the effects of climate change (to mention only one predicament) are not going to go away for a very long time and will still hit millions badly. In the overall context, the Tesla Model 3 is just another car.

        Reply
        • Leland Palmer

           /  August 5, 2017

          Demanding behavioral change before making any technological change is not going to work to fight global warming, I think.

          The network of global warming disinformation think tanks and websites all push demands for behavioral change and all push guilt for energy use. I believe they do this because behavioral change is hard, and guilt tends to push people into apathy or denial. Apathy and denial are what the global warming disinformation think tanks want, I think, because apathy and denial do not threaten fossil fuel profits.

          The solar energy resource is huge:

          With that much clean energy, we can all have electric cars without harming the biosphere. The way to get CO2 production from producing both electric and internal combustion vehicles down is to decarbonize the entire economy, I think.

          Demanding that changes be perfect before making any changes at all is another global warming disinformation network tactic, I think.

        • Leland, you say we can’t wait for behavioural change and yet you think we can wait for electric cars to have a significant impact on emissions. I don’t think we can wait one more minute, which is why I cringe at these ideas that this or that technology is the game changer and, given time, we’ll see real progress. To me, it’s a delay in what we should really be doing. We don’t need more technology, we have more than enough to start making a big dent in emissions within a year, not within the next few decades.

          You say, about solar energy “With that much clean energy, we can all have electric cars without harming the biosphere.” But solar energy infrastructure does damage the biosphere and 100% of the solar energy is already utilised on this planet. It’s a fallacy to think that there can’t possibly be any downside to our redirecting natural energy streams for our own use, no matter how small that redirection is. And resources needed for us “all” to have electric cars (that would be several billion of them) would be immense, including road systems. We need to think these things through, not assume it will all be fine.

        • We are seeing real progress now. We have the opportunity to start drawing down carbon emissions in the 1-3 year timeframe if we double down on renewables and EVs.

        • Leland Palmer

           /  August 5, 2017

          Please notice that in the above diagram, solar energy intercepted by the earth per year is visually compared to the total amount of other forms of energy.

          So, over one hundred years, the solar energy total would be one hundred times larger than what is shown on the diagram. The size of the other disks on the diagram would shrink to comparative insignificance, if solar energy available over one hundred years was shown.

          Methane hydrates are not illustrated by this diagram, and their disk on the diagram could be roughly the same size or larger than the coal.

        • Leland Palmer

           /  August 6, 2017

          Hi Mike-

          The greenhouse side effect of using fossil fuels produces something like 100,000 times more indirect solar heating than is gained as useful heat of combustion. It is this greenhouse trigger effect that might kill the biosphere, not people living and going about their lives on this planet.

          Time scales and ratios of climate forcing due to thermal versus carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels- Ken Caldiera, Stanford
          http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2015GL063514/full

          Solar energy infrastructure does harm the biosphere, now, because it triggers fossil fuel use. But there is no reason that it has to do that. As we wring more and more fossil fuel use out of our technology, the effect of producing electric cars and solar energy infrastructure will be less and less.

          Combustion vehicles produce this 100,000 times side effect with every tank of gas and every mile driven. Electric vehicles and solar energy infrastructure provide a way to break that cycle.

          If combustion of fossil fuels triggers the dissociation of the methane hydrates or widespread production of permafrost methane, millions of times more greenhouse heating could be released as a side effect of fossil fuel use than is gained as useful heat of combustion. It is this terrible side effect of fossil fuel use that might kill the biosphere, not driving or producing an electric cars.

          Solar energy in general only takes energy that would be turned into heat anyway and produces useful work from it, before it ends up as heat. Plants do the same thing, harvest solar energy to produce chemical potential energy. This is nature’s technology, and it has existed on this planet for billions of years. We only need to mimic nature’s technology to prevent harm to the biosphere as it exists now.

        • Leland, “We only need to mimic nature’s technology to prevent harm to the biosphere as it exists now.” Only? As it exists now? Sounds simple but clearly isn’t, because we’re not doing it. And I’d prefer a return to how it existed some time in the past, not “as it exists now”. Climate change may very well be the major influence on our environment in the future but almost all of the damage we’ve done so far (biodiversity loss, dying oceans, topsoil loss, and so on) has been due to the way we’ve lived our lives. That damage will continue unless we alter behaviour.

          As for the so-called myth that natural energy flows are fully utilised, it’s not a myth. The biosphere we have now, impoverished as it is, is due to the energy flows that currently exist. If we further alter those energy flows, it is possible, even probable, that there will be unintended consequences. Different energy flows will produce a different biosphere. Maybe it won’t be bad though. Who knows? There has been some research on this with wind, which showed that there is a limit to how much wind energy we can extract before the detrimental effects become noticeable. That was maybe three years ago but I haven’t seen anything since – it seems we’re assuming there are no bad side effects.

        • Leland Palmer

           /  August 6, 2017

          Hi Mike-

          One hundred percent of the solar energy is already utilized on this planet?

          Wow, that’s just not true. It’s not anywhere close to true. You’re telling me that the huge amount of solar energy that shines, for example, on the Nevada desert to produce heat and get reflected back into space is being “utilized”?

          Wow. Where do you get your information? That totally sounds like a global warming disinformation think tank talking point.

          That’s a whopper. John Cook at Skeptical Science needs to make that climate myth number 196, I think:

          https://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

        • Leland Palmer

           /  August 8, 2017

          Solar energy used to generate electricity ends up as heat, anyway. All solar energy does is transfer maybe 20 percent of that heat from the site of production to the site of consumption. That is a tiny, insignificant change that would be well tolerated by the biosphere, unlike the huge greenhouse gas multiplier side effect of fossil fuel use.

          If the solar collectors are darker in color than the site they are sitting on, more heat would be produced at this site than would otherwise be the case. If solar energy is transmitted as electricity, more heat would be emitted at the destination than would otherwise be the case. These tiny local heating effects could easily be compensated for by scattering some white stone gravel around, if we think that it is worth the trouble.

          Through albedo management, it is totally possible to use some of the available solar energy before it gets turned into heat anyway, and compensate for local heating effects so that no small local heating effects are observed at all.

        • Leland Palmer

           /  August 13, 2017

          You know, it just occurred to me that solar energy producers have an incentive to engage in albedo management, by covering the ground around the site with white or light colored stone gravel.

          It would help keep the panels cool, and that helps raise panel efficiency. Also, solar cell encapsulants like EVA last longer and remain clearer if they are kept as cool as possible.

          Doing this in the desert might also keep the dust down, and reduce cleaning costs for the panels or heliostats.

          For the same reasons, I ought to get up on my roof and paint it white, to keep the panels as cool as possible.

      • greenman023

         /  August 5, 2017

        “In such a case, you’re not really a ‘Greenman’ but a man dipped in oil, whether you realize it or not.”

        now that’s a bit of a strong statement based on one post… and a complete lack of knowledge of who I am… but then ignorance is as American as Apple pie.

        Regarding public transport systems.. difficult to find details on the carbon efficiency (cost per person per mile, etc) of the Tokyo Metro but back in the 1990’s, when I was campaigning for adoption and implementation of the Rio declaration (1992) Rail transport was by a considerable margin the most efficient means of transport in the World. The Tokyo Metro surpasses that.

        Back then I was campaigning for us to start building the infrastructure to replace oil.. (solar, tidal, wind). Climate change was on the agenda then but no was listening.. I’ve fear, given the statistical evidence (nearly half of all our consumption of fosil fuels, deforestation, plastic waste, species extinction, etc, etc) has similarly occurred during those last 30 years, , the same deafness still pervades. We have now passed in point of no return yet in the last 30 years we could have averted the disaster.. I’ve been in this fight for close to forty years and am ashamed that I will leave this planet in a far worse state than I found it.

        As well as being the most carbon efficient means to transport people and goods the construction and maintenance costs of a rail network (the track and stations) is also a fraction of the cost of construction and maintaining the roads and associated infrastructure (service stations/charging points) needed for personal transport. This particularly applies to the use of one material, concrete: you need lots of it to build roads and as I’m sure you are well away the cement industry dwarfs all others in terms of it’s carbon footprint.

        The railway was the first mass transport system and it is still the most cost effective and efficient means to transport people and goods. But we have a love affair with the car and so call them ‘beautiful machines’. We idolise them in the same way a drug addict idolises his hypodermic needle (or perhaps more an old man and his viagra).

        If anything has beauty it is the network, but more through the beauty of maths, the maths that permits efficient flow than machine’s that create gridlock.

        See transport for what it is, a means to get from A-B.

        regards,

        GM23

        Reply
        • Leland Palmer

           /  August 5, 2017

          Behavioral change is hard, and slow, and it it hard to get enough people acting the same way to significantly affect the averages.

          Technological change can be fast, and revolutionary, under the right circumstances. Rapid technological change is what Elon Musk is doing.

          Scientific problems often get solved one piece at a time, I think.

        • Leland Palmer

           /  August 5, 2017

          The behavioral change I was referring to above was asking people to get out of their cars and ride mass transit.

          People like their cars. Driving cars is a pleasurable manual and visual skill. Cars represent freedom. to many people. We can’t wait for people to stop driving cars to fight global warming.

          To the extent that the Tesla Model 3 allows people this skill and sense of freedom without greatly harming the biosphere, it is a beautiful machine. I find it beautiful, myself.

          Mass transit is great. Electric railways like the San Francisco Bay Area BART system are great, we need more of them. But electric cars are a more general and practical solution to the greenhouse emissions problem than demanding the behavioral change to riding mass transit.

  30. Robert McLachlan

     /  August 4, 2017

    Mike Roberts – you are right, my estimates are a bit optimistic. They come from the idea of “contract and converge” (e.g. http://climatechangeconnection.org/solutions/international-solutions/contraction-convergence/) which envisions 1.5 t/cap by 2050 – falling to 0 later in the century, although it’s hardly meaningful to go that far, it’s hard enough even to get anything done this year or next year. In my country, New Zealand, emissions are 18 tons per person, more than half of which is from agriculture (cows and fertiliser) – you can guess that hardly anyone wants to cut those – and haven’t fallen in 20 years.

    Still I think it would be valuable to imagine a society with 1.5 t/person emissions even with present technology. It seems fairest to me to accrue the emissions caused by industry to the ultimate consumers, but there are other ways to cut it.

    On cars, we have to confront the reality that the global car fleet is increasing by 40m cars per year. Peak car and peak transport fuel are still a long way off. New Zealand (pop 4.5m) imported 310,000 cars last year, of which 2,300 were electric. I am with the Tesla fans (and a happy 2nd hand Leaf driver.)

    Reply
    • Robert McLachlan, yes indeed, New Zealand (my country also) has a long way to go to get under those caps. You’re also right that we need to confront reality. Yes, unless we change our paradigm, car use will continue to grow, as you say. There is no doubt that if all cars were instantly changed to all electric, there would be fewer emissions but I’m sure we’ll see unintended consequences of such change and we would also still have to confront the reality of continued environmental damage (including from continued emissions).

      Reply
  31. Arch

     /  August 4, 2017

    I am from India, and I hope Tesla is able to reduce the cost of the vehicle (it’s unaffordable for most Indians) by manufacturing locally. There are many in India who are also aware of the impacts of climate change and are looking to make a switch to electric vehicles. The cost of a gallon of gas is more in India than in the USA, and it would make sense economically as well. Tesla and others also need to give serious thought to manufacturing electric two-wheelers and selling them world-wide (most of the vehicles in third world countries are two-wheelers, not cars). I hope more and more people in the US switch to electric vehicles. That will spur innovation, reduce costs of electric vehicles, and make it affordable for many in India and other developing nations.

    Reply
  32. PlazaRed

     /  August 4, 2017

    Roll on the day they get electric heavy commercial vehicles on the market as well with possibly on route over head wires to recharge them while running or on steep hills.

    Meanwhile, this link might be of interest to some.
    It’s +43/c in my area of Spain today and about 20 countries in Europe are on alerts for heat waves and droughts.

    https://www.wunderground.com/cat6/roasting-and-gasping-pac-nw-all-time-record-heat-southeast-europe

    Reply
    • Leland Palmer

       /  August 5, 2017

      A system of coils embedded in the pavement can also transmit electricity to the electric cars via electromagnetic induction. The British build a kilometer or two of road to test this, I think:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Road-powered_electric_vehicle

      There may be health risks associated with some of these technologies due to exposure to electromagnetic fields or waves.

      Reply
  33. Bill h

     /  August 4, 2017

    I’ve been reflecting on the sometimes sharp divergence of opinions in the comments between those cheering on Musk/Tesla’s achievement and those who are dubious about the capacity of such innovations to solve our environmental crisis. The latter point to the crucial importance of behaviour change rather than “mere” technological innovation. It seems clear to me that the less severe the behaviour change the more likely it is to be achieved. Looking back over the history of public acceptance of AGW worldwide it would seem that it was rising fairly steadily up till about 2005, but then fell off markedly in the next few years before returning to an upward trajectory in the last few years: for detailed discussion, see onlinelibrary.wiley.co/doi/10.1002/wcc.321/pdf . Some might ascribe this to an assault by fossil fuel companies on AGW theory in the early 2000s but I would suggest another reason: the growing awareness that tackling AGW means cutting fossil fuel consumption rather than merely limiting it. In 2004 I attended a talk by the Chief Scientist at B.P.,Steve Koonin, on climate change. The audience consisted mainly of research scientists, yet the majority were unaware of the requirement to reduce significantly our carbon footprint rather than merely not increase it. Since that time this awareness has greatly increased, but previously the message, reinforced by the Kyoto Protocol of 1992, had been that we needed to merely restrict emissions to 1990 levels,
    The increased, often strident opposition to AGW emerged, I would suggest, as people realised the demands upon them to alter their behaviour. The opposition probably reached its zenith after the “Climategate Hack”, with adulation of McIntyre and the “heroic heretic” ,
    Judith Curry. Since that time the “sceptics” have been in decline, with even a majority of Trump supporters wanting to stay in the Paris Agreement.

    Why the change in attitude? I would suggest in part because of realisation that the required behavioural changes might not be so severe, thanks to technological breakthroughs, notably electric vehicles and much cheaper renewables. Those who say that only certain required behavioural changes will save us fail to recognise that these required changes are a function of available technology. Giving up cars on a big scale is clearly a requirement if they use fossil fuels, considerably less so if they can be powered by low carbon sources, and also have major co-benefits, such has no nitrogen oxides or particulate emissions.

    One cannot separate requisite behaviour from available, affordable technology.

    Reply
    • You enable behavior change by baking it into the system. Ideally, you provide technological escape hatches and policy that provides incentive for positive behavior and disincentive for negative behavior.

      That said, from a systemic standpoint, regardless of your degree of possible levels of positive behavioral change, EVs are necessary for dealing with the problem of human caused climate change. Many people’s economic situations are such that they cannot live where they are, as they are, without a vehicle. Governments can provide outs for this. But will they or are they? Meanwhile, with EVs available, they have another out. This is why attacking it is so, so unhelpful.

      It’s as if there were an over-the counter medicine for a heroine addict that provided a good chance of them kicking the habit and surviving but an ideal cure was still possible through public provision, but due to political gridlock by heroine dealers, was currently unavailable. Idealists and perfectionists, in this analogy, would be heartlessly attacking the over-the-counter medicine on pure intellectual grounds without realizing that they are actually attacking the victim.

      Reply
      • Jim

         /  August 6, 2017

        +1. Another case of “perfection is the enemy of good”.

        In an ideal world public policy would encourage desired behavioral changes, and I’m all for an overall move to a more sustainable life style, as others have argued here. But the reality is that the fossil fuel industry is the largest and most heavily subsidized industry in the world, and as such dictates much of what happens with public policy, and it’s not pretty. Mass transit system expansions will remain a dream in the US until the fossil fuel industry begins to loose leverage.

        Those who minimize Tesla’s, and specifically Elon Musk’s, contributions to this problem are missing the bigger point of what he is accomplishing. By being the first to invest in a Giga-factory, he’s forced all other battery manufactures who want to remain relevant to do the same thing. Now there are more than 20 such plants under construction, some like CATL in China are bigger than Tesla’s Giga-factory. That’s why battery storage prices are plummeting. By actually making a desirable EV, he’s forcing all major auto manufacturers to move in the same direction if they want to remain relevant. This represents an enormous change in the balance of power between individual choice and oil and gas fossil fuel dictates. To be sure, it’s not the ultimate sustainable solution some (we all) want, but it at least allows us to have a saner discussion about transitioning to that, while at least restraining, if not sedating the 800 pound oil soaked gorilla in the room mucking up the politics.

        And those batteries are finding a place in electric grids as a replacement for gas fired peaking power plants. They’re also increasing being paired with PV solar or wind generation for primary storage at costs of about $50 /MWh, a price comparable to a modern gas fired power plant.This makes makes intermittent renewable power even more desirable. Tesla expects their battery business to grow faster than the automotive business.

        The upshot to all of this? Not only is it better for the environment, it’s cheaper. My PV system saves me $2500 per year and has a 5.5 year payback. After that it produces electricity for another 25 years. Driving on electricity would reduce my gasoline bill from $3000 per year to $800 for electricity (free if I expand my solar system).

        Little wonder the incumbents are opposed to change and would love us to use “clean, affordable, abundant coal”, or “clean, affordable, natural gas”. And it’s little wonder they want us to think “breakthroughs in battery technology” might someday make EV’s affordable, or that renewables will drive up the price of electricity, or make the grid unreliable. None of it is remotely true.

        Reply
  34. Above are many references to articles on climate change and its effects. Just today 8 of the 11 top citations in the Climate section of ScienceDaily are in a similar vein, a lot even for them. It’s pretty clear our scientists are doing their jobs and stepping up to the communicating plate in large numbers. And since it take years, or decades, to complete a study, and more months or years to publish, presuming the results are publishable, they have been working on their climate voice for a long time –
    1. Paris Climate Agreement Unattainable?
    2. India may face deadly heat this century.
    3. Asia: Water supply declining due to climate
    4. Snow-ree season lengthening in Alaska
    5. Climate: big changes needed in farming practices
    6. Current threats to our oceans revealed
    7. Where there’s fire, there’s social media
    8. Climate change could threaten rare bat

    Reply
  1. A Beautiful Machine to Change the World — Model 3 to Transform Global Automobile Markets, Open Pathway For Rapid Energy Transition

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: