This changes everything. Or will it?

15 05 2015

Climate scientists have understood ‘carbon budgets’ for quite some time, but only recently have they calculated the size of our remaining 2°C carbon budget. When they did, it became crystal clear that nearly all of the known fossil fuel reserves on earth can’t be safely burned.

And that, to put it mildly, changes everything.

global-fossil-reserves-topOf course, many scientists are now questioning whether a 2°C budget is even ‘safe’.  Whatever that means.

A global warming limit of 2°C has become an almost universally accepted “target,” aimed for by national and international policy.  Yet, the 2014 IPCC AR5 assessment clearly demonstrates that:

  • 2c is a target for catastrophe,
  • 1.5C is extremely dangerous, and even
  •  1C is not safe.

A 2 degree target is disastrously high according to James Hansen, and we can see now with accelerating Arctic changes at today’s 0.8C warming is a recipe for global climate catastrophe.

James Hansen has been published explaining from our current knowledge of the science why 1C is the danger limit. The best paper easily read on 1C is The Case for Young People and Nature by Hansen and a dozen other experts in different fields of research related to global climate change effects.

The 1C danger limit is clear from the impacts on crop yields.

Also, the IPCC AR4 has crop losses to small holders and subsistence farmers and serious health impacts starting below 1.0C.

The IPCC AR4 has population health impacts starting below 1.0C.

Arctic global warming changes at today’s 0.8C:

  • Accelerating Arctic warming. The Arctic is now warming three to four times the global average, and melting at five times the modelled rates.
  • Accelerating melt of Greenland glaciers and signs of ice sheet instability is starting,
  • The Far Snow cover (albedo cooling) is receding faster,
  • The Arctic summer sea ice is past the ice free tipping point (T Lenton)
  • All sources of Arctic methane feedback are currently operative, with methane emitting from thawing permafrost, cracks in the sea ice, the edges of the Arctic cryocap, and subsea floor methane pools.
  • In addition CO2 and nitrous oxide is emitting from thawing permafrost.

And certainly the 450 parts per million (ppm) target for carbon dioxide is too high, even to have any sort of certainty to remain below the 2C target. James Hansen has published that we must get below 350ppm from today’s almost 400ppm.  Now that’s a challenge and a half. Which is of course the reason for Hansen’s enthusiasm for techno fixes like geo engineering and nuclear power, even in the face of the USA’s looming problems with decommissioning their current crop of nukes….

After another transformer fire at the Indian Point nuclear facility on May 9, New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo would like to see the power plant shut down for good. The aging nuclear power plant is in the midst of its application to the federal government for a license renewal, which would allow the two reactors on site to continue to harness fission to boil water for electricity generation for another 20 years. But with local, well-connected opposition like the governor, Indian Point’s days as a nuclear facility may be numbered no matter what federal regulators decide.

Indian Point is not unique in heading toward shutdown, although the circumstances of each reactor’s closing are as unique as the reactors themselves. In the past few years five nuclear reactors from Florida to California ave shut down permanently—despite license renewals. The reactors at San Onofre in California and Crystal River in Florida ceased operations over botched repairs that caused safety concerns. The Kewaunee reactor in Wisconsin closed early because its ability to make money by selling electricity was undercut by cheap natural gas and renewables like wind power and similar economic woes shuttered Vermont Yankee. Several currently operating reactors face the same challenges: Without financial support from Illinois’s government, the slew of reactors in that state may shut down, too. And unlike Indian Point, which makes money selling electricity to power-hungry New York City, nuclear reactors in other parts of the state face economic challenges. MORE here.

Tesla_power_wallTechno fixes abound at the moment, with Elon Musk’s battery wall bombarding more media outlets than I care to read.  Amazingly, quite a backlash is already debunking the whole concept as nothing more than a senseless means of Tesla making more money for no solution at all, led by Kunstler’s biting article which in part reads:

What gets me about Tesla’s various products and activities is that, when all is said and done, they are meant to extend the fatal rackets of contemporary life, especially car dependency and the suburban development pattern. Car dependency can and probably will fail on the financial basis, not on the question of how you run the car. The main economic problem we face is the end of growth of the kind we’re used to, the kind that generates real capital and enables bank lending. It is already happening and has led to fewer loans for fewer qualified borrowers. It will also lead to the end of government’s ability to pay for fixing the elaborate hierarchy of paved highways, roads, and streets that the cars have to run on. Imagine the psychic pain of the Silicon Valley billionaire driving his $87,000 Tesla P85D down a freeway that the State of California hasn’t been able to repair in five years.

You tell’em James……

How Sustainable is PV Solar Power? asks Low-Tech Magazine… and then, How Sustainable is Stored Sunlight?

How much Lithium would be required to supply the entire US with a Tesla ‘Power Wall’? is an even more illuminating site where actual numbers are thrown in for good measure….

lots of math here, but the last 3 paragraphs are key

http://www.meridian-int-res.com/Projects/How_Much_Lithium_Per_Battery.pdf

From the last paragraph:

Current global production of some 100,000 tonnes raw LCE would be sufficient, if available, for some 2 million 16 kWh batteries per year

In other words, current global production is only enough for 32million kWh of Lithium battery. 120 million US households with a 10kWh Tesla Power Wall is 1200 million, or ~40 times more than would be capable with current (yearly) global Lithium production. But that is production, not abundance.

So…….  could we be at Peak Lithium already if demand can’t keep up with production?  Because we all know about abundance in the Peak Oil circles, don’t we….  Hopium reigns.

Lithium Ion battery technology is the wrong use of Lithium anyway.  Lithium Iron Phosphate technology is superior and does not have the problems of containing Cobalt which, as far as I know, cannot be recycled in the form it is used in Li ion batteries.  If the longevity of the Li ion battery in this laptop is any example, I wouldn’t touch them with a barge pole.

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7 responses

15 05 2015
mikestasse

Here is the outcome of a little experiment consisting of asking Google for the quote “faster than previously thought”.
Research by Erial Secas
These are some headlines:

-Global sea levels rising faster than previously thought

-Global warming’s effects are coming on faster than previously thought.

-Arctic Sea Ice Thinning Faster Than Previously Thought

-Tropical forests may be vanishing even faster than previously thought.

-Global sea levels have risen significantly faster than previously thought

-Greenland Ice Sheet Melting Faster Than Previously Thought

-Icebergs are breaking away from Antarctica faster than previously thought.

-Antarctica’s ice discharge could raise sea level faster than previously thought.

-The Ocean’s Surface Layer Has Been Warming Much Faster Than Previously Thought.

-Mass Extinction Occurred Much Faster Than Previously Thought.

-Deadly Super Volcanic Eruptions May Occur Faster than Previously Thought.

-Antarctic Permafrost Melting Faster Than Previously Thought

-Scientists Say Venice Is Sinking Faster Than Previously Thought.

-Mammals Becoming Extinct Faster Than Previously Thought.

– A new report says the world’s oceans are changing faster than previously thought

-Permafrost melt will release climate-warming carbon dioxide gas into the atmosphere much faster than previously thought,”

-Galveston Island Sinking Faster Than Previously Thought.

Amblyomma aureolatum ticks transmit disease faster than previously thought.

Climate change could happen much faster than previously thought.

-Permian Mass Extinction May Have Happened 10X Faster Than Previously Thought.

AND MY PERSONAL WINNERS:2nd-“Snails move faster than previously thought”

1st-“Titanic took just five minutes to sink – much faster than previously thought.”

15 05 2015
davekimble3

Li-ion batteries are good for small portable electronic applications requiring 12 VDC or less, but are silly for large static applications. The Tesla home 10 kW.h battery is not like 10 kW.h of mains electricity, which can provide 10 kW for one hour easily. The battery can only deliver 2kW max, and doing that makes it wear out quicker. A standard electric kettle is 2.2 kW.

2 – 3 million 16 kW.h batteries is one way of looking at it. Tesla cars have a history of getting bigger and bigger batteries, so 400,000 Tesla Model S is more like it.

15 05 2015
robertheinlein

Li-ion is obsolete tech, but Musk sold his entire production output into the middle of 2016 within one week of the announcement. This is an indication that the market for this storage capacity is huge. Fortunately, there is much better tech on the way soon (much greater capacity, much cheaper and much safer) which will supercede Li-ion. Elon is a great salesman, though, and has gotten a lot of people thinking about storage now, which is a very good thing because it will enable solar to be the number one energy source in the future.

Don’t worry about Peak Lithium… it’s a non-issue for the future.

15 05 2015
mikestasse

Well of course solar will be the number one energy source in the future….. there won’t be anything else!

HOWEVER……. as John Michael Greer said in his latest post about the age of pretence,…….

It’s important to be clear about this. Fossil fuels aren’t simply one energy source among others; in terms of concentration, usefulness, and fungibility—that is, the ability to be turned into any other form of energy that might be required—they’re in a category all by themselves. Repeated claims that fossil fuels can be replaced with nuclear power, renewable energy resources, or what have you sound very good on paper, but every attempt to put those claims to the test so far has either gone belly up in short order, or become a classic subsidy dumpster surviving purely on a diet of government funds and mandates

17 05 2015
Idiocracy

“Fortunately, there is much better tech on the way soon (much greater capacity, much cheaper and much safer)”

I recall you’ve dropped similar little snippets here before robert…

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. So please do us all the courtesy of presenting some actual evidence, or might I suggest you sit quietly in the corner and instead share your dilusions with the voices in your head. 🙂

17 05 2015
robertheinlein

I’ll defer to Elon to make the official announcement. 🙂

16 05 2015
Don

I still like my renewable energy factory and storage system down in the back paddock.

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