Can technology alone stop global warming?

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"Can technology alone stop global warming?"

Of course not. We need at least three other things:

  1. Major political change — to deploy the technologies fast enough. My first take on this is at “Is 450 ppm (or less) politically possible? Part 1.”
  2. Major price change — to add a cost to emitting greenhouse gases that approximates the terrible damage done by them. All the technology advances in renewables (or nuclear or coal with carbon capture) that you can plausibly imagine in the next decade won’t make coal cost-uneffective — this is a critical point to understand.
  3. Major behavior change — Most people need to understand at a visceral level that unrestricted greenhouse gas emissions are the gravest threat to the health and well-being of future generations that we face (by far). If we get the needed political and price change much of the behavior change will follow. But not all. Climate change is probably going to have to get much more visibly worse before we see widespread and significant behavior change — much as few people make a dramatic change in their diet and exercise before the heart trouble occurs.

I’ll be blogging more on these three points in the coming week(s).

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41 Responses to Can technology alone stop global warming?

  1. David B. Benson says:

    Joe — CO2 produced in a carbon-neutral manner is no problem at all, well, except for land use change, i.e., deforestration. It is ‘only’ CO2 from burning fossil fuels, with the increment from cement production, etc., that is carbon postive. Which is bad.

    Many people are confused about this distinction, so it needs to be repeatedly stated.

  2. tarwater says:

    _Can technology alone stop global warming?_

    This is a stupid statement as it ignores the most important and readily doable action to stabilize the anthropogenic component of climate change — stabilize and reduce the human population. While the techno-twits and economists debate how best to stabilize the concentration of climate change gases in the atmosphere through technology and “market incentives”, the problem unabatedly worsens. Indeed, the twits and economists carry a heavy burden of guilt for the problem and they complicate resolution by insisting the world economy can continue to grow and there is hope in the future for the billions living marginal existence. The need to scuttle the “free maket enterprise” model is bold before us, but we cling to the past believing that trend is destiny. Of course this will prove not to be the case because petroleum depletion will, and may be in process, of preventing continued expansion of the technical consumer front to the have nots. As the oil diminishes so will the human population of third world and developing countries. Unfortunately in time the political economist Thomas Robert Malthus will be proven correct. Finally the United States, or more correctly the current administration and Congress of the United States, takes partial blame for the near-absence of discussion, let alone action, of the need to stabilize and reduce the size of human population. This follows from the muzzle placed on government and non-government government funded organizations that would, in a world lead by reality-based leadership, aggressively advocate and support financially, population stabilization and reduction through the distribution of condoms, birth control pills and patches, abortion, education of women, and etcetera.

    The prospect for stabilizing climate change gas emission is pretty much zero, regardless of what the G8 nations do and do not do. This follows from (1) the aspiration of most undeveloped nations to emulate the G8 nations, and (2) the certainty that the last drop of petroleum and chunk of coal will be combusted to sustain the human endeavor. Maybe Christ will come down from the cross.

  3. Andrew says:

    David, I’m a bit confused about what you are saying. “CO2 produced in a carbon-neutral manner is no problem at all”

    So CO2 is Carbon Dioxide. If CO2 is produced in a ‘carbon-neutral manner’ (carbon neutral=absence of carbon atom) then it is not CO2 at all, it is O2 or oxygen.

  4. Mauri Pelto says:

    I disagree Tarwater for two reasons. First we need energy not fossil fuels. The energy industry is the largest in the world and stands to make huge profits as they deploy new technology. Demand for energy will continue to increase, the only means to meet this is by alternatives. The energy industry stands to then profit from these additional kilowatts produced. The second instance of hope is a historic one. President Reagan laughed at the notion that the energy industry would pursue energy conservation, and hence did not push measures to cause this. Yet PG &E led the way to energy conservation that swept through the industry. What other industry do they provides funds for you to use less of their product? Of course it was too costly to build new capacity so that was a better alternative. Well economically it is a better alterative for them to add capacity that is sustainable now.

  5. David B. Benson says:

    Andrew — Apologies.

    Carbon-positive — Adds carbon to the active carbon cycle. Examples are buring fossil fuels, deforestration and making Portland cement.

    Carbon-neutral — Nether adds nor removes carbon from the active carbon cycle. Examples include (responsible) biofuels and burning coal with CCS.

    Carbon-negative — Removes carbon from the active carbon cycle. An example would be burning biofuels with CCS. Another is applying biochar to soils.

  6. tarwater says:

    “First we need energy not fossil fuels.”

    Incorrect statement. Petroleum, as a fossil fuel, is the base feedstock for the manufacturing, growing, transport, processing, packaging and delivery of just about everything we touch, eat, sit on, and are ensconced within. Furthermore, there is no substitute in terms of energy density, for petroleum derived liquid fuels. Propelling a 500,000 pound Boeing 777 through the atmosphere on ethanol derived from Iowa grown corn is not an option.

    I find it bewildering that people state we “need energy and not fossil fuels”. I suggest to people that make such proclamations an experiment — live a life free of fossil fuels for, say, six months, six weeks, or six days. My guess is after sixty hours the experimental subject will awkwardly quit the experiment.

  7. tarwater says:

    “Demand for energy will continue to increase, the only means to meet this is by alternatives.”

    P.S.
    Please explain why, with certainty, the increasing demand for energy will be met by alternatives to fossil fuel? Has it occurred to you that we will not be able to meet future demand through alternatives and the human enterprise will contract in magnitude and reach across the planet? I find one of the major intellectual deficiencies in people following the energy conundrum is a profound lack of knowledge of biologic processes that influence and constrain population size and distribution of organisms. But I suppose amongst such people are some that believe man is not a biologic entity.

  8. John Mashey says:

    So, tarwater: as EROI’s of fossil fuels slowly go down, what exactly is your plan for the point at which EROI ~ 1, i.e., when it takes a barrel of oil to produce one?

    bio-jet (not ethanol) is ~ equivalent to existing jetfuel, according to Boeing:

    http://www.trbav030.org/pdf2006/265_Dagget.pdf

    see especially page 5-10, comparing effectiveness of various potential fuels, and resuling airplane designs.

    Of course, our current mass air transport may well be going away…

  9. Robert says:

    I think that discussing technology (both new and existing) is just a distraction. The thing that is really totally missing is a global political will to address climate change. I don’t think this level of common purpose could be achieved without something very close to a global government, something that almost everyone says is a “bad thing”.

    Climate change has received massive publicity over the last 10 years, but the resulting action has not just been muted – it has been non-existant. The world has peered over the edge into the abyss, decided it probably won’t really affect them in their lifetime and moved on.

    Oddly enough the most recent (4th) IPCC report seems to have taken some of the urgency out of the debate by reducing the estimate of sea level rise:

    http://www.grida.no/Newsroom.aspx?m=54&pressReleaseItemID=1050

    “The best estimates for sea-level rise due to ocean expansion and glacier melt by the end of the century (compared to 1989 – 1999 levels) have narrowed to 28 – 58 cm, versus 9 – 88 cm in the 2001 report, due to improved understanding.”

    These figures have been widely quoted in the media, but the rises are so small that most people must just be thinking “So what – big deal”, especially the majority (including me) who will be dead long before the end of the century.

    One likely outcome is that the IPCC projections will prove to be way too optimistic. We are already seeing polar and glacier retreat far ahead of their projections. Lets hope they are a little braver in the next report.

  10. Joe says:

    “Furthermore, there is no substitute in terms of energy density, for petroleum derived liquid fuels. ” Definitely incorrect. I’ll blog on this later.

  11. tarwater says:

    “… as EROI’s of fossil fuels slowly go down, what exactly is your plan for the point at which EROI ~ 1… ”

    There is no plan, likely will be no plan, and if a plan emerges it will manifest far too late to avert undesirable end of game consequences. The mass of the betting pool is on human ingenuity and technology will save us. Assuming the current dynamics do not play out to ingenuity and technology there will be hell to pay. The foundation of ingenuity and technology is a large degree of denial of the reality of the human predicament — many “smart” people that have no sense of proportion and lack ecolacy, “leadership” that is ignorant of, and ignoring, the population/resource imbalance, and the immutably rigid belief that “the market” works.

  12. Robert says:

    John,

    “when it takes a barrel of oil to produce one?”

    Then there’s the question of whether it takes 1 wind turbine running for its whole lifetime to generate enough energy to make, deploy and maintain its replacement. Ditto PV panels.

  13. elbarto says:

    I think the industrial revolution could have happened without fossil fuels. Scientific and intellectual enlightenment preceeded the industrial revolution. Eg. Newton 1643-1727.

    If there were no, or scarce fossil fuels, humans would have used alternatives. The alternatives would have more than likely been more diffuse such that people would have learned to be an order of magnitude more efficient in the application of energy.

    Instead, fossil fuels have allowed human evolution to stagnate. We have become fat, stupid and lazy by allowing coal and oil to do everything for us, producing mostly waste heat and disposable junk rather than anything useful or worthwhile.

    And now, as it becomes evident that we have probably burnt through half of our supply of “dinosaur shit”, humans now appear to have grown too stupid and lazy to even imagine an alternative.

  14. Don Unger says:

    A shameless commercial plug, but one that dovetails with Joe’s third point above: behavioral change. I’ve coined a term “Hydrocarbonaholic” and started a website and a blog: hydrocarbsanon.com and http://hydrocarbsanon.blogspot.com/

    I think a large part of behavioral change is essentially fashion. It was fashionable to laugh at Al Gore in 2000; it’s much more fashionable to listen to him now (I don’t think the science has meaningfully changed in the last eight years). We need new technology; we need efficiency; we need to re-engineer our lives and our cities and our patterns of consumption. That happens in part when “admitting that we have a problem” is admired, rather than ridiculed.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Robert,

    A quick response to your quote here:

    “One likely outcome is that the IPCC projections will prove to be way too optimistic. We are already seeing polar and glacier retreat far ahead of their projections. Lets hope they are a little braver in the next report.”

    I agree the IPCC projections were too optimistic… but I do not agree that we should hope for them to be braver in their next report! How many reports are we going to wait for?! We cannot wait any longer, we do not have that luxury. All of the information that global warming is real is out there, all of the economic studies are there clearly illustrating that we can either choose a brighter, cleaner economic future, or we can do nothing.

    And some other thoughts:

    At a time when more than 81 percent of the American people feel that the U.S. is headed in the wrong direction, our resources would be well spent communicating to the American people that developing a NEW clean energy economy would jumpstart our stagnant economy and provide a brighter, cleaner future (NYTimes article 4/4/08). We need to invest in communicating that global warming is our economic opportunity to choose a better future. And explain the consequences of not doing so.

    We can do R&D to develop great new technology, we can support existing technology much better than we are currently, we can take advantage of our ingenuity.

    And if you agree with the above, can you really feel that the Breakthrough Institute argues differently? Do we all not want good for our future, and future generations? No one blogging and writing and thinking and doing what we are doing wants global warming to continue unchecked.

    It is sink or swim time for action on global warming, and I do not plan on sinking.

  16. CleanGreenOne says:

    Robert,

    A quick response to your quote here:

    “One likely outcome is that the IPCC projections will prove to be way too optimistic. We are already seeing polar and glacier retreat far ahead of their projections. Lets hope they are a little braver in the next report.”

    I agree the IPCC projections were too optimistic… but I do not agree that we should hope for them to be braver in their next report! How many reports are we going to wait for?! We cannot wait any longer, we do not have that luxury. All of the information that global warming is real is out there, all of the economic studies are there clearly illustrating that we can either choose a brighter, cleaner economic future, or we can do nothing.

    And some other thoughts:

    At a time when more than 81 percent of the American people feel that the U.S. is headed in the wrong direction, our resources would be well spent communicating to the American people that developing a NEW clean energy economy would jumpstart our stagnant economy and provide a brighter, cleaner future (NYTimes article 4/4/08). We need to invest in communicating that global warming is our economic opportunity to choose a better future. And explain the consequences of not doing so.

    We can do R&D to develop great new technology, we can support existing technology much better than we are currently, we can take advantage of our ingenuity.

    And if you agree with the above, can you really feel that the Breakthrough Institute argues differently? Do we all not want good for our future, and future generations? No one blogging and writing and thinking and doing what we are doing wants global warming to continue unchecked.

    It is sink or swim time for action on global warming, and I do not plan on sinking.

  17. Tom says:

    Robert – we already have a defacto global government. Unfortunately, it’s the United States.

    Things may change quickly under a new administration, particularly one that leans against free trade.

    It seems a bit far-fetched, but imagine a severe weakening in the U.S. economy that leads to an anti-free trade Congress next year. That Congress approves the new administration’s dramatic action on climate change but with a carbon tariff. Either the world gets on board, or it loses access to its biggest market (albeit, a market tainted by an economic downturn).

    Asia would pretty quickly get in line (responding to the world government in Washington), or things would start to look a lot like the 1930s.

  18. Jim Bullis says:

    Joe

    The world is a strange place. Something like 30% to 40% of CO2 comes from personal transportation. I show a way to cut energy use for personal transportation by 90%. It would cost very little. It would provide most of our transportation needs, in many ways better. I presume you have looked (click the name). Why is this not a breakthrough? Where are the technical questions? I clearly see your point about behavioural change. Things are not yet bad enough that it will be easy to get people to abandon their current motor vehicle fashion statement. It is even hard to activate technical curiosity.

  19. paulm says:

    we need a reduction in population and a return to a more basic life life style …

  20. paulm says:

    which will be happening whether we choose it or not!

  21. Ken Levenson says:

    Joe,
    While I don’t think the article goes far enough – and it suffers without a reference to you of course ;) – today’s Washington Post article by Juliet Eilperin (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/05/AR2008040501136.html?hpid=moreheadlines) is actually much more on the mark than Revkin’s article and blog post today.

    I think the Post has in general had much more substantive reporting on the subject than the Times – strange give Dot Earth and all….

    Anyway, I was particularly pleased to see the emphasis on Hansen and Rogers – which is particularly timely to this whole discussion of technology and deployment. I hope the upcoming meeting is well reported on!

  22. Todd Johnston says:

    First of all:

    “…stabilize and reduce the human population.”

    “we need a reduction in population and a return to a more basic life life style…”

    That’s called “facism.” Only 2 children per family, 1 car (a hybrid) per household, and energy rationing. I’d rather have global warming.

    Second:

    “Furthermore, there is no substitute in terms of energy density, for petroleum derived liquid fuels.”

    “There is no plan…”

    To rebut both of statements…yes there is. It’s called “nuclear power.” And it’s the end game of the current energy industry, whose balance sheets quantify human life as “costs” against profits. The industry has invested heavily in promoting junk science. Why? To stave off technologies like solar and wind power, so that when oil is finally intractable, nuclear seems like the only option capable of meeting energy demand.

    The current global crisis was set in motion long before the industrial revolution. It began with the discovery of fire. “Fossil fuels” are NOT the problem — it is more fundamental. Human perturbations to the climate are the result of BURNING things for fuel, i.e. hydrocarbons. It is a habit as old as we are, and thus monumentally difficult to break.

    But human innovation is breathtaking, the manifestation of unbounded creativity. Any ‘solutions’ that have us returning to a simpler lifestyle would limit human potential. We are better than that: but only when we are free to think for ourselves.

    Billions — if not trillions — of dollars are spent to expand energy INFRASTRUCTURE around the globe, by companies who spend nearly as much to influence policies that support maintaining an “energy grid.” And this corporate influence is what will dooms us.

    Solar and wind derived energy would function best in a cooperative business environment: small-scale, local distribution with individuals producing most of their own energy. This is the nightmare scenario for companies like Exxon/Mobil and Halliburton, who exist solely to support monolithic industry.

    Can technology alone stop global warming? ONLY technology can STOP it. Curbing emissions is necessary, but as a stop-gap until technology can recover from 8 years of being restricted by a new military-energy complex.

    Only new technologies can replace “burning” with “collecting,” break the destructive influence of those who covet power and money, and discover a means to provide all the energy we want without disturbing our planet’s essential equilibriums.

  23. L says:

    “We need at least three other things”
    Right to say “at least.” The other thing you need, of course, is a time machine [the HG Wells type!]

  24. Robert says:

    Tom

    This whole blog is unbelievably US-centric. It’s as if the rest of the world doesn’t exist and the problem only needs to be solved in the US. Your comment is priceless!

    *********************************************************
    Robert – we already have a defacto global government. Unfortunately, it’s the United States.
    *********************************************************

    As a UK citizen I think you are seriously out of touch with how the world views you. 20 years ago, maybe, but not today. Not with the fiasco of Iraq, the crashing US economy, 13 mbopd oil imports, the surging Asian economy, a resurgent Russia and a Euro that has moved from parity with the $US to $1.58 or so. The US is starting to look like the sick man of the world and most certainly not its defacto government. But thanks for offering…

  25. Harold Pierce Jr says:

    Hello Elbarto!

    You got a scheme for smelting metal ores without using fossil fuels? For many smelting processes, coke is used as source of carbon monoxide, the reducing of the metal oxides and as source of heat to the drive the chemical reaction. Coke is made by heating coking coal in ovens at very high temps.

    Your got a scheme for casting engine blocks for 6.1 L Hemi-Head V-8 engines that does not involving melting metal? You like fancy forged alloy wheels? I do!

    How do you make bricks, glass, tiles, etc without high heat?

    How do you mine gold, sliver and diamonds without the expenditure of collossal amounts of diesel? All the energy used in remote mining sites is supplied by diesel.

    The biggest gluttons for raw energy are cement plants. The rotary kilns operate at 2,700 deg F.

  26. Elbarto says:

    Harold,

    Solar furnaces can provide heat up to 6000 degC.

    Smelting can be done in electric arc furnaces powered by renewable energy.

    After peak oil, aluminium engine blocks will be sought after for melting down to make bicycle frames. You won’t be driving anything with a big block.

    I think mining is a problem, it could be achieved with electric equipment, however it would look very different to current practice. Imagine an electric shovel on tracks traversing a rock bench and feeding a conveyor to the crusher for example.

    If the population levels off anytime soon we will be able to extract much of the metal we need by recycling.

    As a chemical engineer who works in extractive metallurgy I have thought about these things. My future livelihood kinds of depends on it.

  27. Peter Foley says:

    Avoid the Malthusian die-off, kill yourself now, I’ll pay for sterilizing any ZPGers if they haven’t reproduced already.

    I love how the the plan to save the world involves sneaking in some crack pot agenda, Temps are rising let’s destroy the means of production and starve 90 % of population, Fire is evil– What twisted self-loathing mental issue birthed that culturally suicidal meme? Temps are rising let’s us imposed one of the several models of government that are guaranteed to fail.
    Elbarto, go out and stake a claim and show us how your
    profitable mining would work, I’m sure the mining companies that made it through the last bottom in prices are inefficient.
    The U.K. destroyed its self allowing morons to lead it in the World Wars. Both times it was rescued from certain destruction by the German empires by the intervention of American economic power and blood.
    As the worlds economies grow the relative wealth of the US will diminish, but unless we elect some pseudo-communists that kill(Taxes) the Goose(capitalism) that lays the golden eggs, our position as the wealthiest nation is assured.
    Just how many patents did the breakthrough institute create last year?
    Jim Bullis, If we didn’t sign the Kyoto money pit treaty why would we want to meet it? A need to slow our economy further?
    Tar water, If Malthus is true, drink the Kool-Aid now while embalming is still widely available and we can fly to your funereal–I’ll buy some carbon offsets as a memorial. Maybe Gore could give a eulogy for small six figure bequest to his foundation.
    Mauri Pelto, PG&E is just farming the government for subsidies. The tax payers are losing $ for pennies worth of energy savings.

    Let us have a little less politicking and some more actual suggestions that are possible and don’t involve the death of
    90% of the world.
    P.S. world temps still show no need for carbon control regime.

  28. Robert says:

    Peter, Wow. Thanks for the history lesson, although as someone born after WW2 we are actually all quite well off and not feeling particularly destroyed at all over here in the UK. As an aside it might have been a neat plan to have lost WW2 – the EU is pretty much German-controlled anyway and we could have saved 50 years getting there. As a further aside, I always thought it was pretty tight of the US to tot up the cost of WW2 and make us pay it all back, while simultaneously re-equipping all the German factories. Which side were you on again?

    As I’m sure any self-respecting student of TEOTWAWKI issues knows, the US was awash with oil in WW2 and the allies relied on US oil for the war effort. Things change – US oil peaked in 1970 and you now import 2/3 of your oil, giving you an annual trade deficit of over $1/2 trillion. Not a rosy prospect with oil closing today at $109.09 a barrel.

  29. David B. Benson says:

    Peter Foley wrote “P.S. world temps still show no need for carbon control regime.” I beg to differ:

    http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5h1UtC8Jx69E-GrzFraEIaFQ8odlQD8VSVT180

    entitled “WHO: Climate Change Threatens Millions”

  30. elbarto says:

    Peter Foley,

    Electric mining: http://www.crcmining.com.au/dynamic_page.php?page_reset=1&page_id=144

    Much mining equipment already runs on electric motors. Mobile trucks and shovels have on-board diesel generators to run the electrics however it is conceivable (probable?) that these will be replaced by overhead cable or track systems when the price of diesel becomes uneconomic. With oil at $109/bbl this point can’t be far away.

    Initially, electrical power will most likely come from coal or gas, but since large fixed generation is more efficient than burning diesel in many mobile generators, all electric mining powered by coal would still emit less CO2 and gas would be even better.

    Eventually the electrical generation will be from nuclear or renewables, obviously I’d prefer renewables.

    So clearly the grown-ups are thinking of declining oil supplies and decarbonising industry in advance. Hopefully it’s practical, workable, economical solutions like this that will prevent those nasty malthusian commies (reverse vampires in league with the saucer people?) coming to take your widgets.

    Cheers,

    elbarto.

  31. Peter Foley says:

    Wow, To think of all those dead soldiers that could have been saved if Churchill had Frenched out and surrendered at Dunkirk.
    BTW what fraction of the EU pop Sixty years from now will be descended from WWII era men and women from England and Germany? Both nations have biologically lost the peace.
    Crack open a history book, The one who can’t be named on this blog H____ ‘s economic knowledge matched the average tree-hugger.
    If the morons in British and French interwar government hadn’t squeezed Germany’s foreign exchange funds like a turnip to float their sinking post depression economies maybe the N___s wouldn’t taken over.
    Just how did the US economy survive the the 1973 &1979 oil crisis while the economy grew 230%? Hint, price oil in dollars.
    What other nation is sandbagging oil production as much as the USA? No drilling on the West, East coast, most of Florida, and a trillion plus dollars worth in ANWAR. Its all ready for a true emergency. Selling commodities is so ‘third’ world economy.
    Hey, I understand you hate the USA’s personal freedom that has lead to the highest standard of living of any mass culture ever. Even our poor people are fat watching satellite TV and driving to the welfare office in a car.
    The ‘trade’ deficit is just a figment of US tax law and the US federal reserve notes being the de facto world currency.
    As fossil oils replacements come online(faster as oil producers get greedy) energy costs will return to ever shrinking percentage of the total growing economy as all commodities do.
    As long as the 108$/barrel oil is used to make 110 $ of goods and services we’re all good.
    If we had to we could replace every ounce of oil with CTL in three years. Even medium tech level South Africa can do CTL when the government isn’t devolving to third world thug state status that bounces checks that pay for the coal that pumps the water out of the mines that pay for the government.

  32. Peter Foley says:

    David B. Benson, While climate changes “threatens” millions, every year WHO allows 500,000 plus dead Africans from Malaria.

    Elbarto, let the invisible hand of the free market determine what powers mining equipment, be it compressed air, Hydraulics, electrical, or liquid hydrocarbons. Compare the increase in copper to oil price ratio. How many would die from electrocution? or electrically caused explosions? I like the Pneumatic as the exhaust is mostly breathable and provides emergency air. In the US the safest is usually the cheapest after legal expenses are considered.
    Fossil oil lower yes, oil lower, who knows? Let the market work and tax the wealth created for necessary actions needed, not some green pipe dreams.

    Malthusian Communist= double dumb.

  33. elbarto says:

    Peter,

    Clearly you don’t know a thing about mining.

    The invisible hand of the free market has already decided on electric for mining equipment. Most of the worlds mining equipment already runs on electric motors. Electricity is typically generated by on-board diesel generators but it is not difficult to supply equipment directly by cable and overhead powerline. Large draglines ALREADY operate on grid power fed by fixed cable and it wouldn’t take much to hook up cables to already electric rope shovels and shut-off the diesel generators for everything but relocation / initial positioning.

    Half the job is already done. It will be a minor technical adjustment to have mining operations almost all grid-electric. Suppling electricity to some of the large mobile equipment will be a little tricky, but we have electric trains and trams so similar techniques could be employed eg. overhead lines along haul roads. The beauty is most of the big trucks already have electric motors so it is only a retrofit to existing infrastructure.

    Hydraulic and pneumatic drives were abandoned some time ago due to being unreliable and inefficient. Here are some links. Or you could google “electric mining equipment”.

    http://www.phmining.com/equipment/shovels.html
    http://www.komatsu.com/CompanyInfo/press/2006110214270222514.html
    http://www.mining-technology.com/projects/morenci/index.html#morenci2
    http://www.miningaustralia.com.au/articles/Towards-an-automated-electric-rope-shovel_z62341.htm
    http://www.bluescopesteel.com.au/go/case-study/bucyrus-australia-s-world-first-dragline
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragline

    My apologies to other posters for this divergence. I know one shouldn’t feed the trolls.

  34. Dano says:

    I see the marginal screenwriters are still out of work.

    Fortunately, they are keeping “up” their “chops” on The Internets, creating parody characters like “Peter” “Foley”.

    Hopefully your seedy little hotel 2 blocks off of Sunset will soon be a bad memory, and your choice to keep in practice by writing on climate change blogs will have paid off, son.

    Best,

    D

  35. Robert says:

    Peter – you make a lot of points. I’ll comment on a few of them.

    I think history shows you that wars generally are a waste of time with no eventual winners. The genetic make up of all populations changes over time – it always has and always will. The same applies in the US which is entirely made up of immigrants with an inflow today that shows no signs of abating.

    Dollar hegemony is a two edged sword. In the past it has bolstered the US’s position in the world and enabled it to borrow huge quantities of funds from other countries through the issue of T-notes. The signs now are that your chickens are coming home to roost. The weak dollar (mainly due to expensive oil, priced in dollars) is making other countires question the sanity of keeping their reserves in dollars. If/when this financial dam breaks the consequences on the US will be devastating.

    Likewise, cheap, largely untaxed oil must have semed a great idea when oil was abundant, but it has caused the US to use it like water. Now it is expensive there is no quick way to re-rig your infrastructure to use less.

  36. Tom says:

    “Robert Says:

    April 7th, 2008 at 5:14 am
    Tom

    …As a UK citizen I think you are seriously out of touch with how the world views you … The US is starting to look like the sick man of the world and most certainly not its defacto government. But thanks for offering…”

    Robert, few Americans have any illusion about the world’s view of their country (trust me. I recently moved here after more than a decade in Europe and Asia). As was once the case with Britain, policy made in the United States impacts the entire world, whether the rest of the planet likes it or not.

    You said the world needs a global government, and I pointed out we have one, however unloved and undemocratic it may be. If Washington decides it will put a high tariff on carbon-intensive imports from a country that has no policy in place to cut greenhouse gas emissions, that country will almost certainly change its policy. Asian economies have weak domestic demand and probably would have little choice but to comply.

    The U.S. is the world’s Wal-Mart (or Tesco or Asda). The world’s biggest retailer drives policy for huge portions of the U.S. economy due to its sheer girth. When it abandoned a ‘Made in America’ image 15 years ago and demanded suppliers push their prices as low as possible, U.S. imports from China began to soar.

    When Washington dangles the threat of restricting access to the world’s most lucrative market, the rest of the world will respond.

    Is that democratic? No. Is it pleasant? No. Is it a de facto global government? Sort of – at least the closest thing the world has.

    Does that make the posters here U.S.-centric? Maybe, but that’s the reality of the world. What’s the point of discussing Norway’s push to become carbon neutral or U.K. tidal power research? Global warming will in general be won or lost in the United States and China — and probably Washington in particular.

  37. Robert says:

    Tom,

    I think you are out of date. China does not rely on exports to the US so much these days.

    http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2008-01/25/content_6419841.htm

    “We expect the Chinese economy to grow by 10 percent this year despite a US-led global economic slowdown,” said Liang Hong, an economist with Goldman Sachs in Hong Kong. “Strong domestic demand, especially investment growth, is expected to sustain the overall GDP growth, though the export growth is set to slow down.”

    The US may see itself as the defacto world government, but no-one else does. This was very obvious from the events leading up to the Iraq war when the US basically fought and eventually ignored the UN. The UK was stupid enough to follow, but I trust we won’t make that mistake again.

    Similarly, the US has fought the UN-founded IPCC and is now the only country in the world to have refused to ratify Kyoto.

    I hope your new President tries a little harder to join the world community. It will make cooperation over climate change a slightly less distant prospect

  38. Peter Foley says:

    How did the crazy idea “cheap” commodities should be taxed come about? As economies grow the demand for will change and thus prices. constant interference with prices leads to black markets and crony capitalism as rational actors attempt to limit the damage/profit from the acts of interventionist government. Nobody wins a war? Ask Gen. Custer or Geronimo. We’re losing the border War right now with Mexico. Look and see how warped the French national Psyche is from losing three out of three wars with Germany. Ask the North Vietnamese if winning the mid Seventies War with China was important? Free Tibet anyone? If you can read, thank a teacher, if you can read English thank a soldier.
    Robert, you are expressing the thoughts of a social parasite.
    Regarding the “chickens coming home to roost” If the voters don’t continue to elect a group of tax and spend and spend some more dummies we’ll be okay.
    The US has no desire to run the world, If we did, there would be a US flag over 95% of the former British empire, North Africa, Europe, Japan, Philippines, Vietnam, and Korea.
    Obviously you didn’t see the interview with the agent who debriefed Saddam Hussein–“I was going to build NBC weapons as soon as I got enough funds together from the Western traitors that were buying black market oil”.
    While the management of the peace in Iraq was bungled. The death rate has been and will remain well below the death rates during any period of Saddam’s dictatorship–both the U.K. and the US can and should be proud of giving a people an opportunity to be free. Just how Green was Hussein’s regime?
    The world is welcome to “join” our community at any time.
    Only a retarded nation would forward any type of world government that would reduce its own sovereignty.(what’s up with keeping the pound? Hmmm?) I don’t to want exist at the whim of 2 Billion Chindains.
    Are we(USA) at war with the IPCC? It is damaging us(USA) much more than the thankfully incompetent boogiemen terrorists-I’ll give Homeland Security a heads ups. No more Green magazines on airplanes– they’ll have to develop an alternate techniques to replace water-boarding in the drought stricken areas in the coming “Hell and High Water”.
    P.S. The war was sanctioned by the UN.
    Have you read the latest releases from the IPCC?
    Why cooperate over an imaginary issue, save the political capital for real issues.

  39. Tom says:

    Robert, the U.S. doesn’t see itself as a defacto global government, but that’s what it is. It’s the world’s 800 pound gorilla. Everyone has to deal with it. The United Nations can continue to draft greenhouse gas cutting agreements till the end of time. It won’t matter without China and the United States.

    Separate your dislike of the United States from the reality that the United States more or less pays the piper. Americans don’t want to be a global government. But the decisions on global warming over the next three years that come from Washington will determine how the fight plays out.

    You said you wanted a global government. I’m just saying you have one. It’s just not the one you wanted, but the Americans don’t wan the role either.

    Be careful what you wish for.

  40. David B. Benson says:

    Peter Foley wrote “…While climate changes “threatens” millions, every year WHO allows 500,000 plus dead Africans from Malaria.” Which is a strange thing to write. WHO has no resources to do otherwise. A current goal of some NGOs is to distribute mosquito nets in areas (not just in Africa) in malarial mosquisitos. Some progress is reported on biological elimination of those species of mosquitos which carry malaria in favor of those species which do not.

    But the increase in tropical diseases may well simp[ly ovrwhelm the (limited) willingness of the developed world to aid the disadvantaged.

  41. we need climate changes. ppl need to understand that the world is going to end because of global warming. stop using fossil fuels and start using energy!!!!!!!!!!! :@ and if we want that vote 4 barack obama 2!!!!!! ppl, listen to me. im a dr. prffesor and many more!
    everybody stop using fossil fuels and use energy!!!!!!

    dr. and proffesor Will S. Johnson
    Princeton Uneversity