Record Renewables Growth in 2017 as New Global Solar + Wind Installations are Projected to Hit Near 175 GW 

Last year, global growth in new solar energy installations hit a new record of 56 gigawatts (GW) in a single year. This year, growth could nearly double to 108 GW installed according to recent reports from IHS. Meanwhile wind appears on track to add another 68 GW of clean power generation. In other words, the age of the renewable energy revolution is in the process of overtaking us. None too soon considering the fact that we are now facing serious ramping harms due to fossil fuel burning and related human-forced climate change.

Rocketing Global Growth For Solar Despite Trump/Republican Efforts to Throw a Wet Blanket on a Key Industry

Such amazing growth comes on the back of rapidly ramping solar markets in China, India and around the world. A ramp that’s happening despite anti-solar policy by the Trump Administration feeding a trade case that has injected uncertainty and distortion into the U.S. market. And even as the same Administration is waging an Orwellian-styled war on the employees of the Environmental Protection Agency who are still doing their best, despite rising odds, to protect the health of U.S. citizens from polluting industries.

The upshot is that the U.S. will lag behind these two emerging solar energy leaders as republicans in power put energy policy in retrograde following years of rapid advancement and clean energy leadership under Obama and the democrats.

(U.S. sees shrinking pie of new solar additions under Trump. Image source: PV Magazine/IHS.)

But despite harmful policy stances by republicans and related nonsensical litigation, the U.S. market is still expected to see 10-12 GW of new solar added in 2017 — or the second highest levels of solar installation on record.

Solar’s resilience in both the U.S. and around the world is primarily due to low photovoltaic panel prices combined with broad popular support by states, cities, businesses, and individuals. These low prices are evidenced by numerous solar tenders and purchase agreements that now range below the 5.5 cent per kilowatt hour level, that can often hit below the 4 cent threshold and sometimes dip as low as 3 cents or less. A recent solar purchase agreement in Arizona, for example, sold for less than 3 cents per kilowatt hour or lower than half the price of nuclear for that region. As mentioned above, trade case uncertainty has since driven solar prices in the U.S. marginally higher. Despite this counter to the global trend, U.S. solar sales are still beating out every prior year except 2016.

(Policies like the Sun Shot Initiative under President Obama and major investments by countries like China helped to rapidly reduce the cost of photovoltaic solar panels globally. Recently, major cost reductions have also been realized in concentrated solar power (CSP). Image source: PlanetSave.)

Concentrated solar power (CSP), which has the inherent advantage of offering both clean, renewable energy and storage in a single application, is also seeing falling prices. For ACWA Power is building a 700 MW CSP facility in Dubai that will provide clean solar energy for just 7.3 cents per kwh. This compares to natural gas prices which range as high as 24 cents per kwh for the Gulf region. If such low prices can be widely duplicated globally, CSP, which employs reflectors to gather solar heat into an oil based medium that is used to boil water to spin a turbine, then this additional form of solar is also likely to see broader use.

Wind Continues Steady Gains

Even as solar energy rockets to record gains, wind energy is also expected to see considerable increases. Forecast International now predicts that 68 GW of new wind capacity will be added globally in 2017. Wind installations at this point are quite widely distributed around the world. However, increased growth in Asia is a major factor in the continued steadily rising rate of adoption.

(Globally, wind energy is projected to continue its steady growth trend of recent years. Image source: Forecast International.)

Prices for wind energy range from 3.1 to around 5.5 cents per kwh, according to Lazard. Unlike solar, the price for wind has been on a slower decline curve during recent years. This means that at this time prices for both wind and solar are presently comparable for most regions. It also means that in places like Alberta, where a recent 600 MW wind project is expected to cost an average of 3.7 cents per kwh, prices for wind are less than half that of nuclear and less than most existing coal or even many new gas projects.

Major Growth in Renewable Energy as Coal Stagnates

If IHS and Forecast International projections for new solar and wind growth bear out, then we’ll see about 176 GW of these forms of renewable energy installed in 2017. That’s a tremendous rate of add that will considerably outpace new coal and gas installations even as it helps to reduce overall demand for power from these polluting sources and major contributors to climate change, related sea level rise, and similarly related worsening extreme weather. We are already seeing these effects as the world’s largest coal terminal is seeking to diversify on lowering demand forecast and as GE — a major provider of turbines for the gas industry — is cutting its fossil fuel based equipment sector.

One major aspect of the larger global shift can be seen in China. During past years, China rapidly added new coal and gas capacity. But non fossil fuel power generation additions were the major story for China in the first half of 2017. For by July China had added 24.4 GW of new solar capacity, 7.3 GW of new wind capacity, 6.69 GW of new hydro capacity, and 1.09 GW of new nuclear capacity. The total new add was 39.48 GW of non fossil fuel based electrical power generation vs 18.84 GW of new thermal capacity primarily coming from coal and gas. In other words, renewables outpaced fossil fuel generation in China by more than 2 to 1.

This comes as China is seeking to reduce coal use in an effort to clean up its air quality and fight climate change, as the price of coal burning rises to the point of producing losses in regions like Europe, and as predictions abound that the near term coal market is stagnating and long term future coal prospects, without the addition of costly carbon capture and storage, look bleak.


Hat tip to Greg

Hat tip to Vic

Hat tip to Suzanne

Leave a comment


  1. PlazaRed

     /  December 18, 2017

    Very interesting blog post; thank you; there is so much available to get energy out there and no need to dig or drill for it. A bit like free candy for all if you only take a trip down or outside to the store!

    Meanwhile this is an interesting article:-
    ” If nations went on burning fossil fuels at an ever-increasing rate, then ultimately all the ice piled kilometres high on Antarctica could melt.”

    • All it takes is 5-6 C warming to melt that ice. Long term, we achieve that at 550 to 600 ppm CO2 or equivalent forcing. That’s why we need to halt fossil fuel burning, fully replace with renewables, and then go net carbon negative through various forms of atmospheric capture.

      • Bill H

         /  December 18, 2017

        Robert, just out of interest is the statement you are making about 5 to 6 degrees warming proven fact or “merely” a statement with a high level of confidence?

        • According to our understanding of past climates, that’s the range at which all the ice melts. The proxy data isn’t perfectly accurate. But the range is rather well established. I’d give it very high confidence at 90 percent+.

        • bill h

           /  December 18, 2017

          Robert, I agree with you on that one. We are looking here at overwhelming probability compared with any claims to the contrary, but not as proven fact

          That was the essence of the argument I was putting across on the previous thread about established science being not proven, but “merely” the best approximation to the truth that we have. Sorry if it came across to you as “nonsense”.

        • That’s a more refined statement, Bill. Especially compared to one that says — science isn’t about facts. I’m sorry if I was too hard on you. That said, we can and should be able to have a discussion about probability and prediction without making blanket statements about the ability of science to produce facts, right?

        • Bill H

           /  December 19, 2017

          Robert, “blanket statements”? Moi?
          It may seem that I’m engaging in recondite speculations about the nature of scientific theory and fact. Actually, it has a very practcal impact on my job as a science teacher. Although it doesn’t happen much, I am occasionally challenged about the science that I’m teaching, either the theory of evolution or the theory of anthropogenic climate change. The students’ argument is the same in both cases : “you can’t prove it”. They are correct: I can’t prove either, but merely present evidence. Faced with this demand lmy best defence is to find another theory that they think is proved, and demostrate that it isn’t.force = mass x acceleration (Newton 2) is a great one, since they invariably accept it as “proven”. I then show them that it is, in some circumstances very far from the truth, an one has to come up with a very strange definition of mass to save the day for Sir Isaac.

        • I think there’s a difference between saying — there are no facts and facts can always be further refined even as science develops a factual understanding of reality.

          And, perhaps, we should be more clear to students about what we can and cannot prove and to what degree things can or cannot be proven.

          Observational science proves all sorts of things. For example, a black hole exists or it doesn’t. Or there is such a thing as a supernova or a nebula or there isn’t.

          I also think that you may have confused theories with facts.

          In any case, if this is the way we are teaching kids science, then I can certainly understand why climate change deniers have had such a broad field in which to spread their misinformation. And, yes, some things can certainly be proven even if our understanding of them can, in many cases, be better refined.

        • Or to say it another way, in the context of this conversation — in which you continue to provide space for a nonsensical blurring of reality — let me ask you this:

          Does CO2 trap heat? If so, is that a fact? And following on that, are you saying that it’s not really proven and that it can be reasonably challenged, just like everything else can be challenged (per your other statements)?

        • And yes — saying nothing can be proven is a blanket statement. And yes, it is incorrect. If you’re telling this to students in a blanket context, then you are misinforming them.

        • Let’s diagram the logic, or lack thereof, of this story you’ve just told me.

          1. Apparently, you say you teach climate change (perhaps an appeal to authority, we’ll get to that later)
          2. Your students supposedly say you can’t prove the theory of anthropogenic climate change (this is an interesting opener to a faerie tale, perhaps).
          3. You say they are correct and then go about saying that you can’t prove any scientific theory (Statement missing from narrative, but implied. This is classic manipulation of the narrative through allegory. I find it pretty dishonest. Will leave it at that for now.).
          4. You demonstrate a theory that is known to have holes but that is still useful to prove your so-called lack-point — being the implication that ‘the students were right, why do I teach this stuff anyway?’ (sleight of hand).
          5. You conflate an unproven or unprovable theory with a fact and then say that nothing can be proven thus sowing more confusion (complete flight of logic and reason).

          So, let me ask a rhetorical question here:

          How does the above jibe with this statement from the IPCC:

          “Scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal.”

          And just to help a little with definitions, here is what the dictionary says about unequivocal:

          Leaving no doubt; unambiguous.

          From NASA:

          “The heat-trapping nature of carbon dioxide and other gases was demonstrated in the mid-19th century.2 Their ability to affect the transfer of infrared energy through the atmosphere is the scientific basis of many instruments flown by NASA. There is no question that increased levels of greenhouse gases must cause the Earth to warm in response.”

          Again these words — no question. A phrase used for something that is definitely true.

          Definition of the word fact: a thing that has an actual existence. In other words, proven.

          So to sum up, according to NASA and the IPCC, human-caused global warming is unequivocal, proven, and a fact. You couldn’t just simply tell them that because it was true, right? Instead, you distracted them (or should I say, us?) with Newton.

          I call BS on so, so many levels. Your communication is one consistent with classic merchant of doubting. You’re attempting to create doubt in this forum by blurring scientific definitions and by manipulation of relativistic rhetorical drift and allegory. You’re under moderation.

        • Any other professional language manipulators want to try to blur definitions and cast false doubt on the existence of climate change today?

        • Brian

           /  December 19, 2017

          It’s only 10:55am and already my day is made. Thanks Robert!

        • Vaughn Anderson

           /  December 19, 2017

          Bill H: Generally speaking a “P” value of < .05 is used in statistical analysis to indicate a 95% chance that the cause of an event in question is due to the effect being studied with a 5% chance that the event being studies is a random event and has no significance:
          Google defines "p-value" as: In the majority of analyses, an alpha of 0.05 is used as the cutoff for significance. If the p-value is less than 0.05, we reject the null hypothesis that there's no difference between the means and conclude that a significant difference does exist.
          In other words this is the "generally accepted" level of whether an event is significant or merely random…at least according to my understanding.
          Let's look at a couple examples:

          The proof of the Pythagorean Theorem has a p-value of "0" because there is a mathematical proof that is always 100% true. There is a 0% chance that the Pythagorean Theorem is false.
          Studies of the Theory of evolution mostly claim a p-value of <.05 or <.01. Let's
          say there are 75 independent(different data, unconnected different data collection, different unconnected people involved in the study, etc.) studies that conclude with a p-value of .05 that the Theory of Evolution is true. That means that each of these studies conclude that there is a < 5% chance that the Theory of Evolution is false.
          So, taken together this shows with a probability of ((.05)^75= 2.64697796 X10 to the negative 98th power) that the Theory of Evolution is false or a probability of 1 minus 2.64697796 X10 to the negative 98th power that the Theory of Evolution is true. According to my understanding there are fewer than 10 to the 90th power atoms in the known universe. So according to the example of 75 studies of the Theory of Evolution it is about 10^8 times likely to be true than if I picked one atom in the known universe and you similarly picked another atom that they would both be the same atom.

          I suggest reading "The Dancing Wu Li Masters" by Gary Zukav.

        • bill h

           /  December 19, 2017

          Wow, I stand accused of all manner of unpleasant things, dishonesty being one of them, which I find very hurtful; I am following a line of reasoning as honestly as I can, though, crap science teacher that I am, maybe I’ve made a mess of it. Can’t you at least show a little kindness by using the principle of “never ascribing to malice what can adequately be explained by incompetence”, and merely calling me an idiot? I am also saddened that a post of mine attacking so-called skeptics for their use of the “unproven” argument to attack mainstream climate science is now being used as evidence that I am myself one of these “merchants of doubt”. Since this post may well not get on to the comments board, or receive any sort of reply, I’ll be brief(-ish).
          The IPCC and many learned scientific societies around the world have refrained from claiming that the proposition that humanity is responsible for the great majority of observed warming has been proved. Instead they say it is likely to within at least 95%. Thus what I have said is entirely consistent with the statements from these organisations. You yourself have not actually attempted a proof. You have stated the fact that the Earth is warming is incontrovertible, with which I agree, but this is not the same as proving the aforementioned proposition, so I’m not clear what point you are trying to make here. You do apparently agree that Newton’s 2nd Law, at the heart of our understanding of the universe, is unproven, indeed you say there are “holes” in it. The problem is that the models that Climate Scientists use assume the truth of Newton’s Laws, so this would seem to imply that these models also have holes in them. I do not agree with this: I regard the models as highly robust, even if they can only ever be approximations to reality.
          Yours, in sorrow, and maybe incompetence,

        • Bill, careless use of language can lead to all sorts of misconceptions. I’m trying to help you understand that your communication in this regard has been very unclear, has appeared to mix up definitions, and casts doubt where no doubt should otherwise be attributed. Your illustration fails to convey clear definitions. Maybe this is not idiotic. Maybe this is just a problem with communication in general. Maybe you are, indeed concern trolling me and I shouldn’t be spending any more time on this.

          I’m going to give you the opportunity to make clear what you are saying. But if you circle back around to ‘there’s no such thing as a fact, nothing is proven, and reality doesn’t exist’ the discussion has become too rarefied and full of holes to be of much use to a forum that is designed to discuss proofs related to climate change. I would think that any reasonable person would understand that.

          So lets go back to square 1:

          1. IPCC says evidence for climate change is unequivocal.

          Is this or is it not a proof or a proven fact?

          2. NASA notes that there is no question that the rising levels of heat trapping gases in the atmosphere have caused the Earth to warm.

          Explain to me how this is not a proven fact or, better, yet, how you agree with this statement and how you can return to your students and provide proofs of anthropogenic climate change.


          As for predictive or likelihood variables, that’s a bit different from observational proofs. Would you say that ice has a 95 percent chance of melting at 2 C but we’re not certain? If so, then, wow.

          And, yes, I think comparing climate change to Newton is a bit of a false from. One is an apple (apparently for Newton at least). And one is an orange — or at least an orange shift on the climate graph.

        • Bill H

           /  December 19, 2017

          Robert, unfortunately, you are making untrue claims about what i have said. Where, for instance, have I said that there is no such thing as a fact?

          Maybe I do need to add context re arguments with students re AGW. Their beef is not with the idea that greenhouse gases trap heat but with claim that this results in a serious problem for humanity. They demand proof, which, as I have pointed out, the IPPC and the learned societies in good Popperian fashion decline to give, giving instead statements in terms of probabilities. The students’ argument is a dumb one ,but I’m not prepared to merely assert:” I’m the teacher and I say it’s proven” when the Learned Societies demur on this point. Instead I draw attention to their inconsistency in demanding proof for this theory when they don’t do so for just about every other theory. Confronting students with cognitive dissonance can be a powerful weapon.

        • “The fundamental problem is that science doesn’t “prove” anything. ”

          Your statement, not mine.

          I’m going to remove moderation on this for now and chalk it up to misunderstanding.

        • Vaughn Anderson

           /  December 20, 2017

          Bill H, maybe there is a 1/(10^40) chance that human caused climate change is not true. You are correct in saying, if in fact this is what you are trying to say, that absolute proof for climate change that mathematicians who play with mathematical proofs say cannot be proven is indeed true. (I am thinking back to a theoretical mathematics class I took back in college.) Mathematicians can be a special breed and Gary Zukav refers to them similarly in his book, “The Dancing Wu Li Masters.” When you hear a statement, “Their is no proof,” this is likely where it is coming from. It is similar to saying, gee, if we don’t divide by zero we can prove this statement true. We just cannot say this is true until we exclude “0.”
          However, IMHO, the reality that human caused climate change is a proven to be true condition is a true statement that any reasonable person would accept without question. Simply put, there is no reasonable doubt that human caused climate change is not true.
          If I didn’t muddle through this too badly, I hope this explains the misunderstanding.

        • Cheers, Vaughn, thanks for this. Not muddled at all.

        • Vaughn Anderson

           /  December 20, 2017

          Thanks, Robert. Hopefully enough said.

        • And thank you for your moderation in this regard.

        • Bill H

           /  December 20, 2017

          Vaughn, I’ve posted a response to your probability argument. For some reason it’s ended up at the bottom of the comments section. I’d be interested in your thoughts.

        • Bill H

           /  December 20, 2017

          Hi, Vaughn, I’ve posted a response to your comment on being able to declare theories to be true on the basis of a vanishingly small probability that they are not. Unfortunately it’s ended up at the bottom of the comments section. I’d appreciate your thoughts as a fellow science teacher!

        • Bill H

           /  December 20, 2017

          Robert, I’d be very happy to bury the hatchet too. I can assure you that as far as I’m concerned the mainstream science view on the the magnitude of AGW and its effect on the planet is the only show in town, and we should act accordingly. Those who persist in saying otherwise are being totally unreasonable.

        • Bill, my apology for mis-hearing you. I get a lot of targeted messaging that masquerades as scientific language. This can knock me into hyperfocus and a confrontational mindset. What’s worse is that I only have a block of text and url tracking as my means of proofing. Moderation of this kind is a two edged sword in a number of respects. My main challenge is to engage meaningfully but not to allow the flood of misinformation to color my impression of honest communicators. Thanks for your understanding and I will endeavor to be more moderate, to not allow passions to rule, in the future.

          That said, and just as a word of advice, maybe it would be helpful to step a bit outside the context of mathematical probability and identification of certainty and uncertainty. To think about how those who live outside that realm view facts and proofs. To think a bit more observationally at times and to maybe discuss a bit how observation, evidence analysis, and mathematical modeling are the three pillars we presently use to determine proof. That there are different lenses for each field.

          I guess I’ll leave it at that as a suggestion.

        • Bill H

           /  December 21, 2017

          Robert, thanks so much for all the effort you put into moderation. I find I have to severely limit how often I try enaging with the denizens of blogs such as Watts or Çlimate Audit. Such is the level of bile in those snakepits I find myself doubting the existence of human goodness after a while. I’m in awe of you for battling with that sort of thing on a daily basis. If you’ll forgive the pun: no need to worry about any lack of…..moderation on your own part!

      • Allan Barr

         /  December 18, 2017

        Many believe that civilization cannot survive and in fact perhaps not even humans above 4 C. Thanks for all you do Robert and I also enjoy the occasional very positive article like the one you just posted.

        • Humankind can survive 4 C. Civilization collapse pressure is quite high at that range. Adaptation measures would have to be quite intense for most societies to remain stable in that range. Extreme damage from high impact events would require major alterations to present economic systems. Food and water security likely to be severely impacted in multiple regions at the same time.

        • Haven’t got the link at the moment, however in the last couple of weeks I read an article where AXA the international Insurance/reinsurance giant states that a 4C world is uninsureable.
          In other words, on top of the extreme weather damage let alone the postulated increased geological activity, there will be no insurance back up to aid recovery. Just individual resources and whatever minimal tax resources governments may have.

          I would suggest things may start falling apart fast at that point

        • Things starting to fall apart does not = human extinction. Things are getting rough now. In order to understand the ratcheting influences of climate change, we need to set our minds to better understand a wide range of degrees.

          As for the bit you mention… I wrote about it on Friday:

          A 4 C world is very difficult to deal with financially. Which is why I made the ‘present monetary systems’ statement above.

          Do I think 4 C is a terrible world that we should strive to avoid with all we’ve got? Absolutely. We don’t have to even come close to human extinction for that to be the case. Think about how bad World War II was. Humans didn’t go extinct then. It wasn’t even close. 4 C warming would be much worse. But still not an extinction level event. One fact — we want to avoid it because its terrible — does not belie the other — 4 C does not = human extinction event.

    • bill h

       /  December 18, 2017

      Plaza, with the caveat that we still need to dig and drill for the very sizeable tools we need to harness this energy, as well as the other tools, based on substances like lithium, for then storing it once it is captured, though the digging and drilling should be done in an increasingly sustainable way over time.

      • PlazaRed

         /  December 18, 2017

        A global energy transfer system is the ultimate answer, I don’t know how to construct it but if it could be in place then countries with unlimited soar power in desert regions could generate power 24 hours a day globally in sequence every day of the year and the power could be distributed.
        The problem is power loss in transmission, that I can not personally overcome but I am sure somebody will, be it super conductors, or low resistance power lines,
        The amount of sun power wasted on my Spanish roof daily is a tragedy! I wish I could simply give it away to to poor soul in the far northern hemisphere.
        The eventual goal of power generation will have to be solar, with global distribution. This is what needs working on.
        Its OK having lots of windmills and solar panels in temperate climes but on a calm day, with a cloudy sky, things get a bit demanding on the power front.
        We need a “Global Power Grid!” Not for me, I have more than enough solar and wind power if I need it but for all those who are under the clouds and in the doldrums.
        The alternatives don’t really bear thinking about a few years from now.

  2. Jacque in southern Utah

     /  December 18, 2017

    Navajo solar plant breaks new ground
    Arizona Daily Sun, Aug 23, 2017:
    “There is space on the Kayenta [AZ] site to double the array’s capacity and, in the longer term… looking at developing another 500 megawatts of renewable power on the reservation…
    The closure of the Navajo Generating Station [coal plant at Page, AZ to close in the next 2 years] could help advance those plans. As part of the power plant shutdown agreement, the Navajo Nation was granted transmission capacity on power lines that snake out from the facility. That access to transmission is a major advantage, and one of the only ways to make renewable projects economically feasible…

    That being the case, the utility is already looking at a 4,000-acre site near the power plant for wind, solar and battery storage.”

    There is a great desert photo of these collectors with Monument Valley-style buttes in the background, but I can’t bring the image into this message.

  3. PlazaRed

     /  December 18, 2017

    Note for Frank Speaking, comment,
    Things are already falling apart.
    Insurance is difficult or impossible to get in areas of forests in some parts of the USA, added to this the same problem is also evident in areas near to sea level.
    Administrations are grasping at straws, looking for ways to “lie their way out of the inevitable?”
    “Population hoodwinking” will become a huge industry as governments seek to convince people that the conditions of climate change are only a passing phase and soon “everything will return to normal!”
    Insurance, if available will seek to find ways to not pay out due to circumstances beyond their control, like the claimant was living too close to sea level, or a forest!
    Panic will become the norm, as city after city becomes engulfed in sea water or wind driven flames, droughts, or simply washed away. Meanwhile the hinterland, undeveloped may offer some refuge to those who are willing to compromise their lifestyles.
    You can not hope to have up to 10,000 million people living beyond their energy means! Something has to give?
    With massive energy use conservations and a radical change in energy generation, then there will be at least less of a climatic shock but can Humanity cope with the changes and settle for less then their forebears had and used?

    I personally hope I will be around to be part of this future, its a bit of a gamble both with passing years and the odds being stacked but the next 30+ years are going to be very interesting, possibly more so than the last few thousand?

    • I think we can still bend the temperature curve back at around the 2 C mark if we enact the right policies and if we all work together. 4 C is definitely something we want to avoid. As I said before — high collapse pressure.

    • rhymeswithgoalie

       /  December 20, 2017

      “Insurance, if available will seek to find ways to not pay out due to circumstances beyond their control, like the claimant was living too close to sea level, or a forest!”
      Conversely, private insurance actuaries–who don’t deny climate change–will just price up premiums to meet sensibly plausible risks, and people will not be able to afford the insurance in the first place.

  4. Vic

     /  December 18, 2017

    Installations of rooftop solar in Australia are hitting all-time highs.

    Rather than being driven by government subsidised feed-in tariffs as it was earlier in the decade, it’s now being driven by sky-rocketing electricity prices caused largely by the inept bungling and delay tactics of the Abbott and Turnbull governments.

    Electricity Prices

  5. Greg

     /  December 19, 2017

    Thank you Robert. A significant part of the pullback this year in the U.S. residential market may be due to the purchase of the largest player, Solacity, by Tesla and it’s big pivot away from the leasing sales and outside vendor supplier model, coupled with the delay in getting Tesla’s solar factory up and running.

  6. redskylite

     /  December 19, 2017

    Great article on the growth of renewables it is a roller coaster that is poised to roar, after so many years of talking and trying to convince policymakers.

    Here in New Zealand there was a “warm blob” in the late 1990s which excited local scientists as reported in 2004.

    “We are very excited about it because it’s a huge signal and it could well happen again.”

    The blob, from north of New Zealand northwest to the Solomon Islands, raised the average sea level about 5cm above normal.

    It raised the average temperature in the top 800m below the surface of the Tasman Sea by 1.2C – producing extra heat equivalent to between 5000 and 10,000 times New Zealand’s daily use of electricity.

    Now in 2017 we have a warm blob in the Tasman with record temperatures somewhere around +6°C above “normal”. What a difference a decade makes.

  7. Genomik

     /  December 19, 2017

    Miami in 2037! Very sobering scenarios of a big hurricane hitting the area. WOW!

    • eleggua

       /  December 20, 2017

      Posted this same Guardian piece down below; didn’t see your post here.
      Reminded me of images in Ballard’s ‘Drowned World’.

      Maybe a good time to read ^that^ one again.

  8. Shawn Redmond

     /  December 19, 2017

    Way OT but interesting just the same,(at least for me). You want to save a few fish stop using nets for starters. Hook and line is less harmful and better at targeting single species and size. I watched the horror of the northern cod collapse as the “experts” said there wasn’t a problem with the stocks. Of course the “uneducated” fishers were 100% wrong in saying for at least a decade before the disaster, that collapse was happening. What I’ve taken away from six decades of listening to the “experts” is that they are fatally optimistic. Whatever they say is the outside worst seems to turn out to be the best that comes to be. Sorry just how it seems to have worked out with the few things that I’ve paid attention to over the years. As long as there are nets in the oceans there is no chance at replenishing the worlds oceans. Never mind all the other crap we’re dumping in them.

    Oceans cover 71% of Earth’s surface and support an estimated 3 billion people with food and vital micronutrients (1). Consequently, the fate of the ocean and its living resources is a first-order question in ecology and environmental science (2). In this context, a 2006 panel of ecologists and fisheries scientists empirically charted the consequences of an ongoing depletion of marine biodiversity, such as declining fisheries, reduced water quality, loss of habitat, and less resilient ecosystems (3). The paper became widely known, however, for a scenario of global fisheries collapse derived from extrapolating catch trends to the year 2048. This projection served as a flash point in the ongoing discussion about the sustainability of global fisheries, or lack thereof (4). A polarized debate ensued, which was productively addressed by a subsequent panel that highlighted solutions for rebuilding depleted fisheries, where appropriate governance structures exist (5). That work, however, along with several follow-up papers (6⇓–8), did not revisit the original projections. A new paper in PNAS (9) now uses updated methodology and an innovative combination of available data on catch trends, life history, and stock assessments to revisit the prospect of a global fisheries disaster, and what may be required to avert it.

    • eleggua

       /  December 20, 2017

      “Spawning aggregations are massive gatherings of fish for breeding, a behavior shared by many species across the globe in many different habitats. Spawning aggregations support some of the most productive fisheries: from multibillion-dollar industries to subsistence cultures, yet we are only beginning to understand their value for marine ecosystems and food security, and their vulnerability. In the upper Gulf of California, in Mexico, a large marine fish known as Gulf Corvina offers an insight into the importance of this behavior.”

      • eleggua

         /  December 20, 2017

        These are the fish discussed in the video above, the Gulf corvina.
        The males ‘sing’ whilie spawning; sounds like machine guns.
        Thye’re known as the loudest fish; recorded at 202 decibels.

  9. Greg

     /  December 19, 2017

    Austin Energy Signs Historic-Low Solar PPA Amid 201 Trade Case Uncertainty. Bodes well for US solar.
    “It’s a pretty bold statement to announce this at this particular time.” Colin Smith, a GTM analyst estimates the cost hovers between $23.50 and $27.25 per megawatt-hour. It could even be as low as $21 per megawatt-hour.

    “It’s low enough that it’s kind of shocking,” said Smith.

  10. Jacque in southern Utah

     /  December 19, 2017

    How do we live with the fact that we are destroying our world?

    “… we must first confront our despair…Anxieties and doubts can be healthy and creative, not only for the person but for the society, because they permit new and original approaches to reality.”
    By Joanna MacyWinter 2011

    How do we live with the fact that we are destroying our world? Because of social taboos, despair at the state of our world and fear for our future are rarely acknowledged or expressed directly. The suppression of despair, like that of any deep recurring response, contributes to the numbing of the psyche. Expressions of anguish or outrage are muted, deadened as if a nerve had been cut. This refusal to feel impoverishes our emotional and sensory life. We create diversions for ourselves as individuals and as nations in the fights we pick, the aims we pursue, and the stuff we buy.
    Of all the dangers we face, from climate chaos to permanent war, none is so great as this deadening of our response. For psychic numbing impedes our capacity to process and respond to information. The energy expended in pushing down despair is diverted from more crucial uses, depleting the resilience and imagination needed for fresh visions and strategies.
    The Zen teacher and poet Thich Nhat Hanh was asked, “What do we most need to do to save our world?” His answer was this: “What we most need to do is to hear within us the sounds of the Earth crying.”
    Cracking the Shell
    How to confront what we scarcely dare to think? How to face our grief and fear and rage without going to pieces?
    It is good to realize that falling apart is not such a bad thing. Indeed, it is as essential to transformation as the cracking of outgrown shells. Anxieties and doubts can be healthy and creative, not only for the person but for the society, because they permit new and original approaches to reality.
    What disintegrates in periods of rapid transformation is not the self, but its defenses and assumptions. Self-protection restricts vision and movement like a suit of armor, making it harder to adapt. Going to pieces, however uncomfortable, can open us up to new perceptions, new data, and new responses.
    In our culture, despair is feared and resisted because it represents a loss of control. We’re ashamed of it and dodge it by demanding instant solutions to problems. We seek the quick fix. This cultural habit obscures our perceptions and fosters a dangerous innocence of the real world.
    Acknowledging despair, on the other hand, involves nothing more mysterious than telling the truth about what we see and know and feel is happening to our world. When corporate-controlled media keep the public in the dark, and power holders manipulate events to create a climate of fear and obedience, truthtelling is like oxygen. It enlivens and returns us to health and vigor.
    Belonging to All Life
    Sharing what is in our heartmind brings a welcome shift in identity, as we recognize that the anger, grief, and fear we feel for our world are not reducible to concerns for our individual welfare or even survival. Our concerns are far larger than our own private needs and wants. Pain for the world—the outrage and the sorrow— breaks us open to a larger sense of who we are. It is a doorway to the realization of our mutual belonging in the web of life.
    Many of us fear that confrontation with despair will bring loneliness and isolation. On the contrary, in letting go of old defenses we find truer community. And in community, we learn to trust our inner responses to our world—and find our power.
    You are not alone! We are part of a vast, global movement: the epochal transition from empire to Earth community. This is the Great Turning. And the excitement, the alarm, even the overwhelm we feel, are all part of our waking up to this collective adventure.
    As in any true adventure, there is risk and uncertainty. Our corporate economy is destroying both itself and the natural world. Its effect on living systems is what David Korten calls the Great Unraveling. It is happening at the same time as the Great Turning, and we cannot know which way the story will end.
    Great Uncertainty
    Let’s drop the notion that we can manage our planet for our own comfort and profit—or even that we can now be its ultimate redeemers. It is a delusion. Let’s accept, in its place, the radical uncertainty of our time, even the uncertainty of survival.
    In primal societies, adolescents go through rites of passage, in which confronting their own mortality is a gateway to maturity. In analogous ways, climate change calls us to recognize our own mortality as a species. With the gift of uncertainty, we can grow up and accept the rights and responsibility of planetary adulthood. Then we know fully that we belong, inextricably, to the web of life. Then we can serve it and let its strength flow through us.
    Uncertainty, when accepted, sheds a bright light on the power of intention. That is what you can count on: not the outcome, but the motivation you bring, the vision you hold, the compass setting you choose to follow.
    Our intention and our resolve can save us from getting lost in grief. This is the gift of the Great Turning. When we open our eyes to what is happening, even when it breaks our hearts, we discover our true dimensions, for our heart, when it breaks open, can hold the whole universe. We discover how speaking the truth of our anguish for the world brings down the walls between us, drawing us into deep solidarity. And that solidarity with our neighbors and all that lives is all the more real for the uncertainty we face. When we stop distracting ourselves, trying to figure the chances of ultimate success or failure, our minds and hearts are liberated into the present moment. And this moment together is alive and charged with possibilities.

  11. Jim

     /  December 19, 2017

    Tesla’s big battery in South Australia is not even 3 weeks old, and it’s already saving the day in Australia power markets when a coal generating station 1000 km away tripped unexpectedly. Tesla’s battery responded within mili-seconds to support a sudden frequency drop, even before the contracted frequency stabilization plant (also coal) could come on line.
    Battery storage like this is going to hype-charge renewables growth.

    MW in ms indeed, something coal can’t do.

  12. More pertinent is the percentage growth. This will give us the doubling time…for example, 19% growth implies a four year doubling time.

  13. Shawn Redmond

     /  December 19, 2017

    Federal officials on Tuesday ended a moratorium imposed three years ago on funding research that alters germs to make them more lethal.

    Such work can now proceed, said Dr. Francis S. Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, but only if a scientific panel decides that the benefits justify the risks.

    Some scientists are eager to pursue these studies because they may show, for example, how a bird flu could mutate to more easily infect humans, or could yield clues to making a better vaccine.

    Critics say these researchers risk creating a monster germ that could escape the lab and seed a pandemic.

    So we add the above to what is below and ……………….well……. anyone?!!!!

    Policy analysts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta were told of the list of forbidden words at a meeting Thursday with senior CDC officials who oversee the budget, according to an analyst who took part in the 90-minute briefing. The forbidden words are “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.”

  14. PlazaRed

     /  December 19, 2017

    Here’s another oil venture about to get under way.
    Copied a few lines from the article:-
    “The plan includes steep tax cuts for corporations and wealthy taxpayers, as well as temporary tax cuts for some individuals and families. It repeals a section of the Obamacare health system and allows oil drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, just two of many narrow changes added onto the bill to secure sufficient to win its passage.”

  15. eleggua

     /  December 19, 2017

    Kudos to NASA for all that they do.

    ” Part 1: Gravity Assist Podcast – Earth, with Tom Wagner
    Dec 19, 2017

    The Gravity Assist Podcast is hosted by NASA’s Director of Planetary Science, Jim Green, who each week talks to some of the greatest planetary scientists on the planet, giving a guided tour through the Solar System and beyond in the process. This week, he spoke to Tom Wagner of NASA’s Earth Science Division, to discuss NASA’s work studying our planet. In this first part of their discussion, the pair talk about Arctic sea ice, disaster response and how what we learn about Earth can be applied to other planets and vice versa.
    Here’s a condensed version of the podcast.
    You can listen to the full podcast here, or read the first part of the transcript below.”

    “….Tom Wagner: One of the biggest places and actually some of the first satellite data that was collected about the Earth was of the Arctic sea ice where they used rockets to take pictures of it back in the 1960s. What we’ve seen is that, over the past 30, 40 years, we’ve lost something like 80 percent of the ice that used to be there by volume, and it’s an amazing change. It’s like turning one of the big knobs that controls the Earth as a machine.

    Jim Green: That water’s got to go somewhere. What are some of the missions that look at that, and what are they telling us about where that water goes?

    Tom Wagner: There’s a bunch of different things that we do. One of them is that we use satellite radars to look at how fast the ice on the land, like in Greenland and the Alaskan glaciers, is flowing into the ocean. We use satellites like GRACE (Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment), which measure variations in mass at the Earth’s surface. Then we have satellites like ICESat (Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite) and ICESat-2, which we’re going to launch in 2018, which look at the height of the ice and how it’s changing.

    Tom Wagner: One of the important things NASA does is to try and develop the next generation of tools for better forecasting of those events, so we can do a better job figuring out what the impacts are. And the kinds of work take all different kinds of approaches. With hurricanes, we’ll look at those with satellites. We’ll also fly over them with aircraft that map the structure of the hurricane so that we can figure out its power and the direction we’re going. We work closely with the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) on that.

    When there’s something like a terrible oil spill in the ocean, we have special radars that we’ll put out on planes to go out and map the extent of the spill, because that’s really hard to do. When it comes to things like earthquakes, we use satellites to map the motions of the [tectonic] plates so that we can get a better understanding of how the Earth moves and where earthquakes might happen next. We even have a program that specifically looks at natural disasters and how we can best support the other agencies that are delivering the aid….

    Jim Green: What have you learned as an Earth scientist that would surprise most people?

    Tom Wagner: I think the number one thing for me is that I think people view the Earth as this incredibly huge thing, and they don’t understand that we as people really have the power to fundamentally reshape it, and we have. We’ve really affected the Earth as an environment, everything from changing the landscape and changing the ecosystems through to changing the composition of our atmosphere and changing the temperature of our planet. And I think that profound shift is one of the most important things that we’ve learned through our study of the Earth in the last 100 years.”

  16. eleggua

     /  December 19, 2017

    ‘The year is 2037. This is what happens when the hurricane hits Miami
    An extract from… ‘The Water Will Come’ by Jeff Goddell’
    17 Dec 2017

    “….By the late 2020s, the only beaches that remained were privately maintained oases of sand in front of expensive hotels. The hurricane took care of those, leaving the hotels and condo towers perched on limestone crags. Tourists disappeared.

    After the hurricane, the city became a mecca for slumlords, spiritual healers, and lawyers. In the parts of the county that were still inhabitable, only the wealthiest could afford to insure their homes. Mortgages were nearly impossible to get, mostly because banks didn’t believe the homes would be there in thirty years.

    Still, the waters kept rising, nearly a foot each decade. Each big storm devoured more of the coastline, pushing the water deeper and deeper into the city. The skyscrapers that had gone up during the boom years were gradually abandoned and used as staging grounds for drug runners and exotic-animal traffickers. Crocodiles nested in the ruins of the Frost Museum of Science. Still, the waters kept rising.

    By the end of the twenty-first century, Miami became something else entirely: a popular diving spot where people could swim among sharks and barnacled SUVs and explore the wreckage of a great American city…..

    As our world floods, it is likely to cause immense suffering and devastation. It is also likely to bring people together and inspire creativity and camaraderie in ways that no one can foresee. Either way, the water is coming. As Hal Wanless, a geologist at the University of Miami, told me in his deep Old Testament voice as we drove toward the beach one day, “If you’re not building a boat, then you don’t understand what’s happening here.””

  17. eleggua

     /  December 19, 2017

    Follow-up on the bit I posted here a couple of weeks or so ago about the emaciated polar bear, suggesting climate change is not really a factor in its condition.

    ‘What everybody got wrong about that viral video of a starving polar bear
    Dubbed the ‘Face of Climate Change,’ a starving polar bear photographed in Canada’s Arctic might have nothing to do with climate change’
    December 12, 2017

    “…“The video shows what appears to be an old male in declining health, but clear clinical signs of starvation aren’t obvious (e.g. convulsions),” said longtime polar bear biologist Andrew Derocher in an email. In a series of tweets, Arctic wildlife biologist Jeff Higdon similarly speculated that the animal could be suffering from an aggressive form of bone cancer. “That bear is starving, but (in my opinion) it’s not starving because the ice suddenly disappeared and it could no longer hunt seals,” he wrote, noting that bears routinely survive long stretches of ice-free water during the summer. “It’s far more likely that it is starving due to health issues,” he added. However, noted University of Alberta polar bear researcher Ian Stirling disputed that it was an older bear, pointing out the lack of scarring around the animal’s neck. In an email, Stirling added that it’s impossible to know for sure what caused the bear’s emaciation, but it “is what a starving bear would look like, regardless of the cause….

    These images aren’t the work of a scientist, an impartial documentarian or even a concerned bystander. They are part of a very calculated public relations exercise by SeaLegacy, an organization whose stated purpose is to capture photos that drive “powerful conservation wins.” The group dispatched five expeditions in 2017, all with the goal to “trigger public and policy support for sustainable ocean solutions.” Terry Audla is a past president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, an advocacy organization representing all Canadian Inuit. In a Sunday tweet, he called the photos a “stunt” that represented a “complete disservice to climate change science.” SeaLegacy’s social media posts about the bear also failed to mention that the images were taken in August, when ice cover naturally disappears from many polar bear habitats. “

  18. eleggua

     /  December 19, 2017

    Lengthy, important piece.

    ‘Venue of last resort: the climate lawsuits threatening the future of big oil
    In an era of environmental deregulation, groups like the American Petroleum Institute are focusing resources on the courts – and ‘time is on industry’s side’’
    by Jie Jenny Zou and Chris Young of the Center for Public Integrity
    17 Dec 2017

    “In early October, 22 state and federal judges hailing from Honolulu to Albany got a crash course in scientific literacy and economics. The three-day symposium was billed as a way to help the judges better scrutinize evidence used to defend government regulations.

    But the all-expenses-paid event hosted by George Mason University’s Law & Economics Center in Arlington, Virginia, served another purpose: it was the first of several seminars designed to promote “skepticism” of scientific evidence among likely candidates for the 140-plus federal judgeships Donald Trump will fill over the next four years.

    The lone science instructor was Louis Anthony Cox Jr, a risk analyst with deep industry ties whose recent appointment as chair of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s clean air scientific advisory committee drew condemnation in public-health circles. Since 1988, Cox has consulted for the American Petroleum Institute, a lobby group that spent millions to dispute the cancer-causing properties of benzene, an ingredient in gasoline, and is now working to question the science on smog-causing ozone. He’s also testified on behalf of the chemical industry and done research for the tobacco giant Philip Morris……

    The back-and-forth of politics can be dispiriting. For that reason, James Hansen has staked his family’s future – and the planet’s – on the courts. His granddaughter, Sophie Kivlehan, is one of 21 child and teenage plaintiffs in Juliana v United States, a 2015 lawsuit that faults the government for failing to address climate change over half a century…..”

  19. eleggua

     /  December 19, 2017

    “…an analysis published in Nature Geoscience last month that human consumption — not seasonal fluctuations or climate change — is primarily to blame for the Great Salt Lake’s desiccation. They hope that creating a better understanding of water flowing into and out of the lake may serve as a model for managing salt lakes that face similar threats.

    The near collapse of salt lakes in places like Central Asia’s Aral Sea, Iran’s Lake Urmia and California’s Salton Sea deprived local environments of natural filtration systems, wildlife habitats and opportunities for human use. Left behind were dust storms that threaten human health and agricultural fields.

    In the case of the Great Salt Lake, the researchers warn that another 30 square miles of lake bed could be exposed in the next 30 to 50 years if planned development and overuse continue…..

    “It isn’t the water use 100 years ago that had an effect,” he added. “It’s really the last 15 to 20 years that are relevant to how the lake is now.”….

    …Water conservation could also help. It worked to save Mono Lake in California. And in Tucson, Ariz., another arid basin, water collection, rock gardens with fewer plants and drip irrigation have significantly cut water use.”

  20. eleggua

     /  December 19, 2017

    “….“It’s easy to do something on the tundra but it’s very difficult to restore,” said Francis Mauer, a retired biologist for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service who worked in the refuge for decades, including the years when the well was in place.

    The drillers took care to protect the tundra, creating an ice runway to fly in huge timbers to serve as the pad, instead of a potentially more destructive gravel base. The pad was insulated from the ground as well, and the operators also dug two pits next to it to hold the mud and rock that was drilling waste.

    While the timber pad offered some advantages, it effectively killed the vegetation beneath it, said Janet C. Jorgenson, a Fish and Wildlife botanist who has worked in the refuge since 1988 and observed the site for many years. That initiated changes which continued over the years, despite efforts to reseed the area with grasses.

    Vertical wedges of solid ice melted, creating pools of water. The two pits, which were initially covered with soil, subsided over the years, leading to more pooling. They were topped with gravel a decade ago and now have very little vegetation. Given all the thawing and melting, Ms. Jorgenson said, about 17 percent of the site is covered in water now, compared with about 2 percent of the surrounding tundra.

    KIC-1 was allowed as part of the 1980 legislation, and was drilled on private native lands within the refuge, east of the village of Kaktovik. Chevron, BP and other companies ran the project, which cost $40 million. The results of the drilling, whether it revealed the presence of significant oil or not, have not been made public…..”

  21. eleggua

     /  December 19, 2017


    ‘Firefighters battling inferno ‘have never seen anything like this”

    “In his 24 years as a firefighter in Ventura County, Antonio Negrete has never seen a wildfire grow as quickly and with such intensity as the Thomas fire. He said he’s also never seen so many resources or personnel dedicated to fighting such a massive blaze.

    “A lot of guys around here would tell you the same thing,” Negrete said at the Ventura County Fairgrounds on Monday. “We’ve been firefighters for decades and have never seen anything like this.”…

    ….the conditions are setting the stage for a long fight, with officials saying they don’t expect containment until January.

    The wildfire had grown to 270,000 acres and spurred 104,607 people to flee their homes, authorities said. More than 8,500 firefighters have battled the blaze, one of the largest mobilization of crews to fight any wildfire in California history. The firefight has cost $130 million.

    It’s now the third-largest fire in California history.

    In his 28-year career as a firefighter, Capt. Rick Crawford with the Los Angeles Fire Department said he’s battled extreme fires. But that the Thomas fire stands out as one of the — if not the — fiercest wildfire he’s encountered.

    “It took the Zaca fire [in 2007] eight weeks to consume over 240,000 acres. It only took the Thomas Fire one week before it surpassed that,” Negrete said. “I’ve never been part of a brush fire like this in December.”

    …One surprising aspect that he said separates the Thomas Fire from others is how the red flag conditions have lasted for two weeks.

    “Usually Santa Ana winds last two days. Having 14 days of erratic winds is unprecedented,” he said…..”

  22. michele/montreal

     /  December 19, 2017

    Jacques in southern Utah: you are a very important person in my life for what you just wrtote today. thank you from the bottom of my heart. this is of great help.

  23. eleggua

     /  December 19, 2017

    ‘Why the bitcoin craze is using up so much energy’
    By Chris Mooney and Steven Mufson December 19, 2017

    “….One alarmist article in Newsweek said that bitcoin computer operations could consume “all of the world’s energy by 2020.” The website Digiconomist claims that bitcoin operations use as much energy as Denmark, or enough to power 3,071,823 U.S. households.

    …several experts told The Washington Post that bitcoin probably uses as much as 1 to 4 gigawatts, or billion watts, of electricity, roughly the output of one to three nuclear reactors.
    That would amount to less than 1 percent of U.S. electricity alone and no more than 0.14 percent of global electricity generation.

    That won’t devour the world’s entire electricity resources, but it’s a significant drain — and it’s growing fast. Moreover, some of the electricity used, in China in particular, may come from burning coal — a fossil fuel that contributes most heavily to climate change.

    …a network of users who expend large amounts of computing power, and thus energy, building a so-called “blockchain” of bitcoin payments transactions.

    To compile this comprehensive record, the bitcoin network relies on “miners.” Bitcoin miners have to perform a phenomenally large number of computer calculations to track and verify transactions and solve complex puzzles to obtain bitcoin rewards. As bitcoins become more popular and valuable, the puzzles miners face grow more difficult, and therefore the demand for high-powered computer processing grows as well. That means more energy usage…..

    “The economics of bitcoin mining mean that most miners need access to reliable and very cheap power on the order of 2 or 3 cents per kilowatt hour. As a result, a lot are located near sources of hydro power, where it’s cheap,” said Sam Hartnett, an associate at the Rocky Mountain Institute, a nonprofit energy research and consulting group….”

  24. eleggua

     /  December 19, 2017

  25. Greg

     /  December 20, 2017

    Your vote can matter tremendously. Today Virginia swung to 50-50 in the House of Representatives. This after the previous 66-34 Republican majority for almost two decades , before the most recent election in November, and it’s come down to One single vote in Newport News.

    • eleggua

       /  December 21, 2017

      Story’s been updated. It’s now a tie again. Coin toss to decide. Very 21st century.

      ?Dec. 20, 2:40 p.m.: A closely watched race for a Virginia House of Delegates seat has come down to a tie, after a three-judge panel decided Wednesday to count a previously uncounted ballot for the Republican delegate.

      A recount on Tuesday had the Democratic candidate leading by one vote.

      According to Virginia law, the winner will now be determined “by drawing lots” ― a process such as drawing straws, flipping a coin or picking names from a hat.

      In other words, control of the state’s House of Delegates ― which has been majority Republican for nearly two decades ― could be determined by chance.”

  26. Bill H

     /  December 20, 2017

    Vaughn, the trouble with your argument that a sufficient number of successful independent tests of a theory renders the probability of its not being proven as vanishingly small can be seen if it is applied to Newton’s Second Law (sorry to keep citing this, but it is a very handy exemplar). This has been verified to high accuracy on many occasions by many independent observers, indeed we rely on it for our safety whenever we travel in a vehicle. However, we now also know that it fails for objects at sufficiently high velocity.

    The astrophysicist Ethan Siegel writes well on this topic: :”Even a hundred million successful tests and observations cannot prove a theory; …….a single irreconcilable, reproducible observation is enough to show that a theory is not correct in all regimes, everywhere.”

    One could say that Science is the ultimate in asymmetric warfare!

    Incidentally, I was interested to read that you, like me, are a science teacher. I’d be interested in your take on the National Science Teachers Association’s position that scientific theories cannot be proved. See . It would appear that NSTA supports my view.:)

    • Vaughn Anderson

       /  December 21, 2017

      Bill, I read the NSTA news publication you linked to. I agree with their position for the most part with the understanding that there are a number of mathematical proofs where p = 00.000…. These are “proven to be true theorems.” I referenced the Pythagorean as an example of one of them.
      “So what are the words that we need to keep in mind? The hardest part about understanding scientific theories and hypotheses seems to be this: a hypothesis is never proven correct, nor is a theory ever proven to be true. Words like prove, correct, and true should be removed from our vocabulary completely and immediately.” –Jacqueline McLaughlin from NSTA WebNews Digest:

      I do agree with Jacqueline on this statement. If a mathematical equation is proven to be true there is absolutely 0 chance it is false. A scientific theory cannot be proven true I think for more than one reason. Even if p < 1/googleplex it is not a proven statement, however for practical purposes we accept it as proven true so we can make use of the information. New information could change the probability that the theory is true or false. Also the simple act of observing almost certainly changes the results of the information received about the observation(Bear with me on this one for I shall return to it.)

      Your example of Newton's Law is an interesting example. New information about Newton's law has cast considerable doubt on the truth of the law although we generally accept it as true as it seems to be true and things happen from our point of reference as we assume they should except they actually don't. The problem is we can't measure the "don't" part except at "relativistic" velocities. There is no measuring device that can tell the difference between 1/10^(100) second and 1/(10^(100)-1) second). Please read "The Dancing Wu Li Masters" by Gary Zukav. He explains this quite enlighteningly in his book. He also explains how the act of observing an event can change the event. This is a fascinating book.

      I think it is important to focus on the very highly likely hypothesis that climate change is real, is human caused, and the consequences will be devastating rather than the "vanishingly small probability" that human caused climate change is not real. This, I believe, is also true about other theories several of which Jacqueline referred to. Yes, these theories are not proven to be true but for practical purposes we need to accept them as true unless, of course, as Jacqueline, says, "new information comes along."

      Now, please read "The Dancing Wu Li Masters."


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