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The Deniers’ Fantasy World: EIA Projects 40% Rise in CO2 Emissions by 2035

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"The Deniers’ Fantasy World: EIA Projects 40% Rise in CO2 Emissions by 2035"

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The U.S. Energy Information Administration issued its International Energy Outlook this week.  For anyone concerned about the uncontrolled rise in carbon emissions — the primary heat-trapping gas fueling dangerous global warming — it paints a very grim future.

Under a business-as-usual climate science deniers’ fantasy scenario, the EIA projects that global carbon dioxide emissions will rise some 40% from 2008 to 2035:

Such an emissions path would all but ensure multiple, simultaneous, ever worsening catastrophes for the nation and the world — widespread Dust-Bowlification; multi-feet sea level rise followed by SLR of 6 to 12+ inches a decade until the planet is ice free; massive species loss; the ocean turning into large, hot acidified dead zones; and ever-strengthening superstorms.

The EIA assumes virtually no new climate and clean energy policies in their “reference” case.  That’s why it is best called climate science deniers’ fantasy scenario.  America and the world just keep listening to the fossil fuel industry’s siren song of “do-nothing.”

Of course, EIA’s forecasting ability is notoriously poor, much as yours would be if you always assumed that the future would be like the past.  For instance, the EIA all but ignores the obvious evidence that oil production is peaking and projects, “the price reaches $108 per barrel in 2020 and $125 per barrel in 2035 in the IEO2011 Reference case.”  Does anybody in the energy industry believe that?

Because they forecast with eyes wide shut, EIA projects global energy demand will grow by 53% with most of that demand being met by fossil resources:


Most of the global increase in consumption will come from (surprise!) China and India. According to the EIA, in 2008, China and India represented about 21% of global demand. In 2035, both countries will represent 31% of global demand.

And while the renewable energy sectors in China and India are booming, EIA projects those countries will join the rich countries in taking no action to avert catastrophes that will probably harm them more than the rich countries:

World coal consumption increased by a total of 30 percent from 2003 and 2008, largely because of China’s fast-growing energy demand. In China alone, coal consumption increased by 71 percent over the 5-year period. Although the global recession had a negative impact on coal use in almost every other part of the world in 2009, coal consumption continued to increase in China. In the absence of policies or legislation that would limit the growth of coal use, China and, to a lesser extent, India and the other nations of non-OECD Asia consume coal in place of more expensive fuels in the outlook.

All that fossil fuel use causes the dramatic increase in carbon dioxide, mostly in emerging economies.  By 2027, China’s CO2 emissions are double ours!  The global recession that hit developed countries hardest appears to have done what no diplomat could do — keep emissions growth relatively low for the next decade. But the slow-down in Co2 emissions in OECD countries will be counteracted by the high-growth economies of Asia, which will represent 74% of new emissions.

World energy-related carbon dioxide emissions increase at an average annual rate of 1.3 percent from 2008 to 2035 in the IEO2011 reference case. OECD emissions increase by only 0.2 percent per year on average, but non-OECD emissions increase at 10 times that rate. OECD emissions fell in 2008 and in 2009—primarily because of the global recession and high oil prices in 2008. In the IEO2011 Reference case, OECD carbon dioxide emissions do not return to 2008 levels until after 2020.

While the EIA does make it seem like our grim future is due to non-OECD countries, they do at least include one graph that shows who is to blame for most cumulative emissions — the source of the overwhelming majority of warming now and in the near future:

http://205.254.135.24/forecasts/ieo/images/figure_116-lg.jpg

The bottom line is that the EIA scenario is a poorly imagined, do-nothing case.  The study makes projections about energy consumption and emissions growth based upon assumptions about very limited policy action and very modest technology advance in clean energy.  So, theoretically, there’s still a chance to change this course.

The key word, however, is “theoretically.”  For now, the deniers can pop the champagne.

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38 Responses to The Deniers’ Fantasy World: EIA Projects 40% Rise in CO2 Emissions by 2035

  1. The EIA seems to live in a parallel universe along with fossil fuel industries and most governments – they assume we are going to dig up and burn all of the world’s fossil fuels whether or not CCS is ever feasible and irrespective of climate change impacts. It seems like madness given that they (at least publicly) accept climate science.

  2. Anarchy Wolf says:

    You know, I think I’d like to forward this to use in defense of my thesis, that humanity is going to drive itself extinct through capitalist industrialism.

  3. lasmog says:

    I feel like I’m watching a horror movie where the soon to be victims of the slasher keep naively walking down dark hallways to be butchered. Our entire planet is stumbling into the clutches of the carbon-monster we have created over the last 200 years but we are just too stupid to understand the peril.

  4. Richard Brenne says:

    Let’s send Rupert Murdoch and every serf in his empire, Jim Inhofe, Rick Perry and everyone like them in government, and Lindzen and all the other Dicks like him each an engraved card reading, “Congratulations, you won! You’ve created a (mostly or all) dead planet! Enjoy hell!”

  5. dick smith says:

    Where’s the bar graph on cumulative emissions from 1750 to 1990?

    • You can get this info from the free CAIT database. Here are global CO2 emissions for 1850-2000:

      29% USA
      27% EU(27)
      8% Russia
      8% China
      4% Japan
      2% India
      2% Canada

      All the rest are 1% or less.

  6. Richard Brenne says:

    If the EIA isn’t right about conventional oil due to peak oil, the simila CO2 could be emitted in other ways, including tars sands, oil shales and coal-to-liquids.

    If we’ve continue to be as mind-numbingly, spit-droolingly stupid as we’ve been and don’t push back against all fossil-fooled interests and shift to renewables, then you could add to that list when the inevitable collapse comes everyone cutting down and burning every last tree they can get their hands on to heat their homes and cook, and armies of looters and marauders throwing rocks through windows, shooting up or setting most homes on fire, which can cause significant declines in the effectiveness of insulation.

    Fortunately the future occupants of many homes will have raccoon-skin coats to keep them warm, mostly because they’ll be raccoons.

    And without a complete transformation to renewables, this is pretty much a best-case scenario.

  7. Z S says:

    In order to produce enough oil to meet the increased demand for liquid fuels forecasted for 2035, the trends of the last 40 years would have to reverse. Take the U.S. as an example. The IEO forecasts that we’ll increase our liquid fuel production from 9.1 million barrels/day in 2009 to 12.8 million b/d in 2035, an increase of 3.7 million b/d. 1.6 million b/d of that increase would come from conventional sources of oil, and the other 2.1 from unconventional (oil shale, etc).

    U.S. conventional oil production peaked in 1970/71. Looking at the trend since then, would anyone in their right mind project an increase of oil production 25 years into the future? It’s just absurd.

    • Depends on what you mean by “oil”. Canada has shown that it is possible to convert gigantic quantities what is essentially asphalt mixed with sand into “oil” by burning 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day and trashing the landscape. We already are seeing the jump into “oil corn” and “oil shale”. Just wait for the emerging “oil rocks” (aka coal) industry to take off in USA. The game afoot is to convert carbon into “oil” to keep the addicts hooked on ever-dirtier and ever-more-expensive “oil”.

  8. cervantes says:

    Regarding peak oil, as many CP readers probably know, Daniel Yergin, promoting his new book, is much in the news predicting no peak until after 2030. Shale oil, new deep water regimes, yadda yadda. Euan Mearns counters at The Oil Drum. Well worth the time of CP readers I think. Not necessarily great news, however, because an oil plateau means more coal consumption.

    • Ken says:

      Yes. Yergin is back and Yergin is everywhere – in the NYT, on NPR, on Bloomberg Surveillance this morning, etc. In all the reportage though, climate change, CO2 emissions, and environment never come up. The Main Stream Media is just delivering the fossil fuel industry’s message that oil is the fuel of the future and good for you too.

      • cervantes says:

        Yergin does fully accept AGW. He just doesn’t think we’re going to hit peak oil. Just to be clear. He doesn’t talk much about AGW though, doesn’t seem to view it as all that important.

    • I think a lot of the confusion about Peak Oil comes from the emerging ambiguity of the definition of “oil”. Peak Oil folks have been proven correct that we are close to the peak in naturally occurring “oil”. So “Peak Conventional Oil” is spot on.

      But rising price and cleaver monkeys are opening up all kinds of synthetic “oil” replacements. So the reality of “Peak Synthetic Oil” is a very open question. Biofuels and tar sands are the biggies so far. But work is under way to turn everything from shale to coal to natural gas to CO2-in-the-air into some form of synthetic “oil”. And lets not forget methane hydrates — Japan hasn’t.

      The jury is very much out on when we will reach “peak looks-like-oil-to-me”. Peak conventional oil certainly won’t save us from climate chaos.

      • John McCormick says:

        Barry, synthetic fuel from coal was Hitler’s source of aviation fuel. So, we clever monkeys have a history of that technology. Converting shale to oil is a 1960s technology.

        Just a matter of time and price before we Easter Islanders…………

    • John Tucker says:

      I think that is the reality of the situation. Fossil Fuels are plentiful, cheap and now chemically interchangeable.

      No matter the politics of the messenger the truth value doesn’t change.

  9. Mike Roddy says:

    EIA is not well equipped to make these important projections. They rely on industry figures for their data, including rosy growth projections for stockholders, and phony oil reserves estimates (as from Saudi Arabia and Western Fuels Association).

    We need new management in the organization, with a lot more independence- something similar to GAO, for instance.

    Their point about most of the growth coming from China and India is correct in fact if not in degree, however. Conservatives, who like all things oil, have no problem with this explosive growth, and use it as an excuse for profligacy.

    Liberals- and not just in the US- are still hung up on raising the fortunes of poor countries no matter what the cost, and generally remain silent.

    China and India recognize the need, however. They could even be the ones to develop and implement the technologies we need. Encouragement in the form of global carbon taxes will let everybody off the hook. If the Right screams some sort of “world government” or “no carbon tax!” nonsense, who cares? It’s about time they were opposed and then bypassed.

  10. Ken says:

    Steve and Joe, thank you for the excellent update on the EIA projections. Much appreciated. But I have followed the EIA base case for years, and really, I think, they are not so bad at this. You say, “So, theoretically, there’s still a chance to change this course.” Brave words, but much as I admire and respect your efforts, I sadly must say you are indulging in reality denial too.
    The EIA does assume some entry of technology into their base case, surely you know that – solar, wind and nuclear. And given the current Republican nihilism and their success at taking over government policy making, and the increasing likelihood that a President Perry is our future, I would say they are correct to not assume more in the base case. And doesn’t current measurement of CO2 increase confirm the EIA base case? At the current rate of emissions, around 35 billion tons per year of CO2 and with the current absorption rate of the carbon sink around 55% or so (but declining), and with CO2 concentration increasing 1 ppm for each 7.5 billion tons not absorbed, the measurement of the rate of CO2 should be around 2 ppm per year. And it is. If carbon free technology were to enter the energy production stream faster, then we would see the rate of increase slow, but it is not. If the noble European efforts to meet the Kyoto accords were bearing fruit, wouldn’t the rate of increase slow? It is not. If anything CO2 ppm seems to be increasing. And at this rate of increase Hansen’s target of 450 ppm will be in reach in just 20 years or so away. Peak oil and Technology may save the day, who knows, but the right way to put it is, I think, on our current course, as the EIA has modeled, we will surpass Hansen’s Target before technological innovation has a chance to reverse the rise in CO2 ppm. That to me seems the current reality.

    • Mike Roddy says:

      Ken, you have a point in five year projections, where EIA is pretty good. The problem is going out to 2035. Assuming rosy fossil fuel projections and little response from governments just doesn’t make much sense in that time frame.

      Either we will follow the EIA emissions trajectories and there will be feedbacks triggered and political action, or governments will act much more aggressively than currently. To think otherwise is to acknowledge a global suicide mission- possible, but not likely.

      • Ken says:

        Mike,
        Agreed, many paths are possible. But I do not think enough time remains for evolutionary developments to prevent surpassing Hansen’s Target. Many analogies exists in history: Catastrophe first, then action, rarely action first, catastrophe avoided. Eventually we will overcome the climate problem, but not before we see some pretty bad outcomes, I think. I hope, and pray, I am wrong.

    • Peter Mizla says:

      I think Hansen has said an increase of C02 to 450ppm would be a ‘prescription for disaster’

      450ppm is likely now as you have said in 20 years.

      it would cause the unstoppable melting of the western Antarctic ice sheet. And would almost guarantee C02 to double from the PI era to 550ppm or greater. Right now it is highly unlikely for us to not reach 3 degrees C above the PI era- and 4 degrees has a 50% or greater possibility by 2060.

      Hansen said earlier in the year that even a 1.5 degree rise above the PI era is highly dangerous.

      We are on right now- a trajectory toward the worst possible doomsday outcome for the planet.

  11. Gnobuddy says:

    The EIA isn’t the only organisation living in Fossil Fuel Wonderland, unfortunately.

    There is widespread denial and ignorance about the sheer extent of our plight when it comes to petroleum, energy, and climate change.

    For example, quite recently I read an issue of Popular Science magazine ( http://www.popsci.com/announcements/article/2011-06/july-2011-future-energy ) on “Future Energy”. The writers of the article got one thing right – oil is running out, and will be gone one day in the future.

    However, the writers of the article also concluded that it would take twenty to forty years to switch from oil to some other source of energy. And during that time, they proposed that humankind should continue to burn oil, extracted by hook or by crook from the deepest and least productive sources on earth if necessary. In fact, the article projected that during this transition period, humankind would burn TWICE AS MUCH MORE PETROLEUM as we have already burned since the industrial revolution started two centuries ago. In other words, during the next 40 years, we will burn twice as much fuel as we’ve burned in the last 200.

    Yes, you read that right. The fossil fuels we’ve already burned have triggered melting ice-caps and worldwide extreme weather – and the writers of the magazine blithely suggest that we should TRIPLE the total amount of carbon humankind will have spewed into the air before we’re done with fossil fuels.

    Unfortunately, the writers didn’t bother to mention that there would probably be no humans left alive on this planet due to drastic climate change if we did as they suggest. They didn’t even bother to mention that all this fuel would have any effect on earth’s – sorry, eaarth’s – climate at all. And this is from a magazine whose title suggests that its mission is to communicate science to the general population.

    Is it not yet blatantly obvious that collectively, the human species is too stupid to even begin to seriously address the climate catastrophe? Our scientists and intellegentsia may get it, but the general population cannot and will not get it. We have, it seems, lived by the fossil-fuel sword, and it seems increasingly evident that we will in fact die by it.

    -Gnobuddy

    • Peter Mizla says:

      Delightful scenario- it paints a very negative view of humans and their stupidity.

      We can only hope we can wake up before it is too late. I feel we will- but there will be A huge reduction in population, wides swathes of the temperate zones becoming bone dry heat sinks- and sea level rises that will swamp coastal cities. Storms of unimaginable magnitude will sweep across the planet.

      A new way of life will emerge, ‘post industrial/technology’ … by 2070 & after C02 emissions will have dropped drastically, but, C02 will still rise to 700-800ppm- then gradually fall. The damage will have been done- but we will survive in a new kind of society, vastly different then the fossil fuel era of today and the past 200 years.

      • Gnobuddy says:

        Peter, thank you for your comment. It may not really be stupidity per se – unfortunately, the human brain never evolved to cope well with such long-term threats of this magnitude. Which may explain why only a small percentage of intelligentsia out on the tail of the bell curve “gets it” when it comes to catastrophic global climate disruption.

        I have the same gut feeling as you, that there is no longer any chance of averting drastic climate change. With the polar ice caps in an apparently irreversible melting “death spiral”, and the dark ocean water they expose as they die contributing massively to global warming, we may quite soon find ourselves at the point of no return. Once decreased polar ocean albedo contributes more to global warming than human-released greenhouse gases do, we will most certainly no longer have any ability to avert or alter the rest of the downhill slide.

        James Lovelock may well be right. It’s quite possible that the real remaining questions are whether or not there will in fact be human survivors, how many will survive, and what methods they will need to use to do so.

        Our sun will power the planet for a long time to come, and complex multi-cellular life will surely be back on earth eventually. If life can find a way to live in scalding hot sulphurous water from ocean floor vents, I’m pretty sure life will find a way to survive the next thousand years – but if we trigger extremely rapid and intense climate change, it may be only the most adaptable of life forms that survive, the single-celled, rapidly mutating species. They have the best chance of adapting to a world that changes beyond imagination over the span of just a few decades or centuries. Come to think of it, other deep-ocean forms of life may do okay too, if they can handle the oceanic acidity change, as they will be insulated from many of the changes happening in the atmosphere and on the planets surface.

        -Gnobuddy

        • Roger says:

          So, then the question becomes, ‘what to do?’

        • Peter Mizla says:

          Thanks for responding Gnobuddy

          I agree with you that humans have not faced this kind of long term threat to their environment before- at least not since we built a complex civilization starting 10,000 years ago that has thrived in the climatic stability of the Holocene.

          Hominids of the past, however primitive survived drastic climate shifts- though over a far longer time span.

          Lots of opinions on if we reach 450ppm by the 2030s. Some here feel within the next 15 years extreme weather events will force policy change. If the weather extremes progress faster then some of the models predict, we may see a peak in C02 emissions by 2030- but that will not prevent us from seeing drastic climate change. Perhaps we can prevent catastrophic events later in the century.

          Americans have never lived proactively. They have mostly reacted to external events/threats before taking action. With climate change I see this kind of attitude continuing till all hell shatters their benign complacency.

          • Ken says:

            Has everyone here read “After the Ice: A Global Human History 20,000-5,000 BC” by Steven Mithen? If not I recommend it. Mithen marshalls all the archeological evidence to show that the history of humanity is a constant battle against natural climate change. Reading Mithen left me certain that we will react in time to save human civilization but also believing much damage will occur before our technology eliminates carbon emissions. The most obvious damage will be the melting of ice, but the melting of the ice may also be the catastrophe that galvanizes humanity to real action.

          • Gnobuddy says:

            Peter, the difference is that 10,000 years ago humankind did not know much about their planet other than what they could observe or deduce locally, and they certainly did not have any ability to affect global conditions. All they could do is adapt on an ongoing basis to the world around them.

            We, on the other hand, had we been wise enough to heed it, have had nearly two centuries of science to warn us regarding C02 emissions and the resulting climate change. In 1824 Joseph Fourier figured out that human activity could warm the planet; in 1896 Arrhenius got the whole thing right, predicting 5-6 deg C temp rise for a doubling of CO2; by the late 1950′s there was hard scientific data supporting the rising levels of atmospheric C02 and its effect on global temperature, and numerous scientists aware of the increasing urgency and scope of the problem.

            So, we’ve had enough scientific knowledge – and, arguably, engineering prowess – to avert the entire catastrophe before it ever began. What we did not have was the emotional, social, or political capability to do so.

            All the evidence points to the fact that we *still* do not have any of those missing ingredients. Our ancient primate brains are better at inventing new technologies than at committing to major lifestyle changes, and we have never once in the history of Homo Sapiens Sapiens demonstrated the ability to act in concert on the scale of billions of human beings.

            We know our hominid ancestors successfully (if barely) survived previous drastic climate shifts. Will our species survive a 7-degree temperature shift that is accelerated a thousand fold, occurring within one single century? Perhaps, but only if some forms of edible vegetation survive that abrupt and extreme climate shift too, in sufficient quantities to maintain breathable amounts of oxygen in the atmosphere. If all the plants die, so does our species.

            Ken, thank you for the reference. I will certainly get myself a copy of that book. I have no doubt we will adapt to conditions as best we can – but only when we are absolutely forced to, with our backs against the wall. By then, we will have no other choice. Unfortunately, by then, the magnitude of the problem will also be vastly bigger, and the chances of survival of civilization – or even the human species itself – much lower.

            It’s been quite the 135,000 year joyride for Homo (not so very) Sapiens Sapiens, has it not?

            -Gnobuddy

  12. glen says:

    There is plenty of news from the “fantasy world” to go around.
    Goldman Sachs sees US as top oil producer in 2017 – Report.

    The report claims US daily production increasing from the present 8.3 to 10.9 million barrels of oil per day by 2017. 10.9Mbopd is greater than Russia or Saudi Arabia current production numbers.

    • Lewis Cleverdon says:

      With today’s authoritative report on Canada’s geothermal potential – at more than a million times national power needs – there is the possibility of that country providing far larger quantities of liquid fuel than any of the present majors.

      The oil in question would be methanol, made in this case by using geothermal power to gain hydrogen from water and carbon monoxide from airborne CO2 to form syngas, which can be catalysed under pressure into methanol:
      2H2 + CO = CH3OH

      Given that many other countries also have significant geothermal resources, it will presumably be those which can attract the finance, expertize and technologies to exploit their resources best that will end up leading this field.

      Yet the question is actually more open still – for methanol can also be made from natural gas – particularly stranded gas reserves that don’t warrant pipelines, as well as using the methane from methyl clathrates such as the vast permafrost resource that China has begun to exloit on the Tibetan plateau -
      It can also be made from the wood feedstock that was harvested from traditional coppice forestry – hence methanol’s original 17th century name of ‘wood alcohol’.

      In short, any attempt to forecast which nations will be producing what volumes of which liquid fuels 25 years hence, and doing so under what global fossil-carbon emissions restraint – is merely propaganda.

      Regards,

      Lewis

  13. John Tucker says:

    Thanks for examining this study. Before I get into it there is just one thing id like to point out about peak oil.

    A few years ago I was sure peak oil would happen. I was actually more worried about agricultural fuels and fertilizers in the third world being available more than anticipating it as a impetuous for fuel efficiency and conservation. I think I was wrong.

    Oil output has peaked. Thats true, but in the background fossil technology is rapidly being implemented to mitigate supply shortfalls ( Current oil reserves 1.75 trillion barrels )

    Oil sands – ( 3.6 trillion barrels ) – everyone knows about this but guesstimates like above are on 10% recoverable oil.

    Coal liquefaction ( 909,064 million tons of proven coal reserves worldwide) – been around for a while – demo plants going up in Pennsylvania, Montana, and North Dakota.

    Everyones favorite ¨green¨ giant Siemens was just in the news for it:

    Siemens to supply eight 500 MW coal gasifiers to China ( http://w1.siemens.com.cn/news_en/news_articles_en/1858.aspx ) which can produce synfuel for a variety of feed stocks.

    [BTW there is also Direct Coal Liquidification liquids which have a high content of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), ]

    GTL – I didnt even know about this honestly until today ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gas_to_liquids ) – even though they are already building a US plant for it:

    South African Energy Firm Explores Cajun Country

    A South African energy and chemicals company is planning to invest $8 billion to $10 billion to build the first plant in the US to convert natural gas to diesel fuel. ( http://www.minyanville.com/businessmarkets/articles/emerging-markets-investing-civets-investing-natural/9/21/2011/id/36983 )

    So I seriously hope no one was counting on peak oil, or super high fuel prices to slow climate change.

    • otter17 says:

      Some would argue that the best case scenarios for scaling up coal liquefaction and unconventional oil will not be able to offset declines in conventional oil in the near term. Even in the long-term, the price of these alternatives will be substantially higher since they provide a liquid fuel with a lower energy return on investment.

      • John Tucker says:

        I think oils sands production is the deal breaker there. With biopfuels picking up slack as an intermediary.

        Growth of oil sands production has exceeded declines in conventional crude oil production.

  14. Just where does the EIA get its numbers from? It shows Canada’s CO2 emissions from 570 to 625 Mt in 2020 when the Cdn govt own figures estimate 800 to 850 Mt mainly due to tar sands and increased coal burning. http://www.ec.gc.ca/Publications/E197D5E7-1AE3-4A06-B4FC-CB74EAAAA60F/CanadasEmissionsTrends.pdf

    It also underestimates the actual emissions. Does it use a different metric?

    • Ken says:

      Canada reports CO2 Equivalants
      not CO2 gas. Canada describes its methods of Greenhouse Gas Emissions calculations here:
      http://www.ec.gc.ca/indicateurs-indicators/default.asp?lang=En&n=A8EC79C0-1

      Canada reports megatonnes of CO2 Equivalents using methodology proscribed by the IPCC.See for example “Table 4: Global warming potentials and atmospheric lifetimes” at the website reference.The primary equivalents are CO2, Methane, Nitrous Oxide,HydroFluoroCarbons. The EIA is probably using CO2 emissions broken out seperately, not sure. Canada does not breakout CO2 gas emissions as a separate category (at least on theirofficial government website).

  15. Greg says:

    Joe,

    this post is perhaps too hard on the EIA. What’s that quote? “If a path to the better there be, it begins with a full look at the worst” — Thomas Hardy.

    Just as climate scientists have a duty to point out what will happen if nothing changes, so does the EIA.

    There is definitely enough coal in the ground for this scenario to come to pass, and it is coal that will drive this increase. It’s misleading to focus on oil because oil consumption has hardly changed since 2005. It is coal that is causing the problem.

    We owe the EIA thanks for pointing out the consequences of choosing to continue to support fossil fuel industries. It’s up to us to heed this warning and change our ways.

  16. David B. Benson says:

    EIA assumes no new energy technologies. Possibly thermoelectricity generated from waste heat, via skutterudites, will become economically feasible. A recent Science Daily article indicates a laboratory development of a much faster way to create skutterudites.

    There are other prospective technologies, i.e., the so-called artificial leaf.

  17. RB says:

    Many of the EIA estimates are completely off the mark already – wind capacity is ~215 GW according to GWEC’s half-yearly report for 2011 and expected to reach ~240 GW. Solar capacity is expected to rise to >60 GW by end of 2011 according to recent IMS forecasts. The Sierra Club activities and Federal govt. policies in the US are indicating not just an almost shut-down of new coal construction but even retirement. The Chinese are also retiring some of their most polluting/older coal capacity. India barely managed to get to 50 GW of new capacity in its current five-year plan. The planned ~100 GW of new capacity for the next five year plan (largely coal) appears unlikely due lack of land/water and inability to lock up coal supply at a reasonable price (whether domestic or international). Further – the recent LBNL assessment of wind potential in India shows a 20-fold increase in the commonly used wind potential estimate for India. That in an itself is a major game-changer. The EIA modeling clearly is not accounting for the markets to move towards a cleaner mix whether govt. support them or not. If anything – this report clearly illustrates the fundamental limitations of such type of modeling activities.

  18. Russell says:

    Given this news, a Gore-Yergin conversation on Charlie Rose seems overdue.