The Raw Materials Challenge of the Green Energy Transition

17 09 2020

My friend Simon Michaux has been burning the midnight candle, doing some amazing research. THIS could be the most important video on why complex civilization will NOT see a green energy transition you’re ever likely to see. share widely…..



41 responses

17 09 2020
Simon Michaux

Thanks Mate

17 09 2020

No, thank YOU for doing the hard yards and producing such amazing work….

17 09 2020

Most humans are never fully present in the now, because unconsciously they believe that the next moment must be more important than this one. But then you miss your whole life, which is never not now. Eckhart Tolle

17 09 2020

Thanks for this. Have shared it with friends.

18 09 2020
Brandon Young

I think it is ultimately pointless going through the 6 scenarios proposed here. Instead we need to stop worrying about the details of which technologies and strategies will play a part in a transition to a negative emissions economy. We can leave that up to the markets, if we are clever enough to impose market incentives that drive overall emissions along any trajectory we might choose.

With a simple global price on all emissions, which creates an enormous pool of revenues to fund rebates for all activities which sequester carbon from the atmosphere – including the preservation and restoration of natural carbon sinks – the overall mix of strategies and technologies will optimise itself, without any need to try to pick winners at the collective level.

Businesses and investors that back successful new initiatives will profit while making great contributions to driving down emissions, and those that back old technologies and inefficient options will disappear over time. Capitalism can easily solve the problem of climate change, without intervention by governments, as long as market outcomes are controlled with incentives on the global scale to produce the optimal mix of economic activities.

22 09 2020

This has to be one of the more delusional comments I have ever seen. Are you trying to troll?
I mean I suppose there’s no one stopping you, it just seems like a strange audience to try it in.
I guess dreaming the rich and technology will save you isn’t much worse than doing nothing.
Dream on Brandon. Power to you.

22 09 2020

I was going to say something like this myself but was waiting for backup. Thanks Adam….

22 09 2020
Brandon Young

No delusion here, just an appreciation for the real power of market incentives to change the behaviour of businesses. A price on emissions would certainly compel profit seeking businesses to minimise emissions in order to minimise costs, and those businesses that fail to do so would certainly sacrifice their own profitability and market share to more savvy competitors.

The same goes for raw materials. A penalty price on the consumption of critical raw materials would change the behaviour of markets and the businesses competing within them. To suggest that it wouldn’t, now that would be a delusion …

The important point here is that we do not need to debate and decide in advance how much the market should shift from fossil fuel powered cars and trucks to electric vehicles, or how much of the electricity supply comes from renewable energy sources. We just need to get the market incentives in line with the goal of moving to negative overall emissions, and profit-seeking business-as-usual will fill in the details.

If it is more profitable for business to act sustainably, then that is what will happen. If it is more profitable for business to act unsustainably, then that is what will happen. This is not a complex argument or a theory that should be beyond the comprehension of anyone. Businesses follow market incentives – they always have and always will. So, the way to change aggregate outcomes is to change market incentives.

This is simple logic. It would be interesting to see a counter argument that says businesses would not change their behaviour in order to adapt to new market incentives.

22 09 2020

The markets got us into this mess, they’re NEVER going to get us out. You can’t get out of a hole by digging deeper…

22 09 2020
Brandon Young

Markets with perverse incentives got us into this mess. Markets governed by our collective goals can achieve any outcome we collectively decide is in our best interest.

If we want to achieve the atmospheric carbon concentrations trajectory agreed in the Paris Agreement, all we need to do is set a global price on emissions that is fully distributed as revenues for carbon sinking. Profit motive will do the rest.

If the pricing signals are dynamic and automatically increase when markets are not responding quickly enough, then the incentives and disincentives will rise to levels required to overcome any and all market inertia. And when competition and innovation are vigorous enough to drive outcomes beyond our goal trajectory the pricing signals will automatically reduce.

This really is a very simple control system, a very basic element of systems engineering, but one that has never really been exploited to achieve particular market outcomes. Market outcomes are actually very easy to control, far easier than real world systems, because there is actually only one single force in effect – the profit motive – and it is easily guided using pricing signals.

22 09 2020

Market outcomes are actually out of control. Pricing signals don’t work under limits to growth constraints. The markets, or more importantly those who are supposed to steer them, have no idea what to do next. Uncertainty rules.

People either have money and park it in the stock market, or they have none and don’t know how to pay their next bill. That’s if they’re not living under a bridge and actually have bills to pay.

22 09 2020
Brandon Young

Yes, uncertainty currently rules, precisely because we currently have **uncontrolled markets**. That is why we need **goal controlled markets** to navigate this era of limits to growth.

We need to ration out the remaining finite resources for however long we want industrialised human civilisation to remain viable. We also need to ration out the damage we are doing to the natural world, and repair the damage already done that has destabilised the planet’s natural cooling system.

Pricing signals are the ideal tool to achieve all of these objectives and to make the transition to a more sustainable economy. Pricing signals are not really about what individual people do on a daily basis, but more about what the industrial system does in aggregate.

If there are large penalties on some industrial activities that work against our collective goals, and large incentives on some industrial activities that work towards our goals, then market behaviour will systematically and automatically change to exploit those new dynamics. The cost of working against our collective goals will be effectively priced in to every economic and political decision being made. Those who get it right will prosper, and those who get it wrong will not.

20 09 2020
Jonathan Maddox

This analysis is well done for the most part, but it does have some significant flaws that make its conclusions questionable, in the areas of finance and oil price, and in the scale of materiel required for a renewable energy transition.

Michaux is critiquing “Business as usual but with renewables and batteries” and saying it’s impossible; and so it is, but not really for the same reasons he emphasises. BAU is indeed impossible, with or without an energy transition. An energy transition to renewables, along with de-growth, is not impossible.

The financial system is not “saturated with debt”: it is *all* debt and it is supposed to be all debt, that is how it works and how it has always worked. Every debt is someone’s asset and vice versa. Private-sector debts may well be at record high levels but interest rates are also at record lows, and cannot be raised far, precisely because of the high level of private indebtedness. The public sector invariably stands ready to bail out a struggling private-sector financial system — at the top end, typically, leaving workers labouring with life-long obligations, but this is a political choice not a matter of inability to forgive debts or boost wages. Central banks and national treasuries have bottomless pockets in the currencies they issue. Their “debts” are not of a nature that puts creditors at risk, nor is there any expectation that they ever need to be repaid in full.

Global currencies are not “going the way of the Zimbabwe dollar”. Hyperinflation is invariably a consequence of some collapse in supply, such as WWI reparations, the Ruhr occupation and general strike in Germany in the 1920s, or the expropriation of Zimbabwean farms from successful commercial farmers only for the land to be awarded to paramilitary cronies without farming experience or commercial connections.

It’s absolutely true that commodity and wage price inflation is the norm since the abandonment of the gold standard, but modest inflation in the wider capitalist world since WWII is modest, managed, expected, intentional and necessary in order to avoid deflationary spirals whenever there is a credit cycle downturn. Periods of somewhat higher inflation have been temporary: the peg of most currencies to the price of gold also (roughly) pegged prices for other mineral commodities for four decades from the Depression until the 1970s, and the belated abandonment of that peg allowed decades’ worth of pent-up inflation to unwind even at the same time as OPEC began to wield its monopoly power, which increased energy costs (as measured in currency) throughout the economy, not least in the mineral sector. Despite supposed inelasticity in petroleum demand, this prompted a fuel switch in the electricity sector which had until the 1970s been dominated by petroleum in many countries (Australia was not one of them), to the other fossil fuels and to nuclear energy. Electricity has its limitations, but in a sense it is what made energy fungible in the 1970s and 1980s. Today, climate change is prompting another fuel switch in the electricity sector, and transportation is now able to take part as well through electrification.

The pandemic is a known black swan in its own right, an outlier but not an anomaly, and can’t be dismissed as such. There will be further pivotal events of this sort. We knew such a thing was possible, likely, even inevitable; we just couldn’t anticipate the timing. New zoonotic diseases have always hit people from time to time. We continue to encroach on the habitats of animals and pathogens we have not encountered before, and microbes continue to evolve. We have very nearly overrun the entire surface of the Earth, but that process has not concluded and we should not expect a complete end to new diseases even if we do. As we see climate change effects of ever greater magnitude, some of the climate-triggered events will be comparable in economic and social effect to the pandemic. Things are going to change dramatically: de-growth in the activities where energy consumption is most profligate today is imperative and inevitable.

The assertions that some oil prices are “too high for all consumers” and some are “too low for all producers” is a bit silly. Very high oil prices in 2008 showed not that no consumers could afford petroleum, but that oil demand is in fact far more price-elastic than had previously been assumed, and that even well-off users would forego certain consumption (especially for entirely discretionary or basically wasteful consumption like air travel for business meetings or holidays) if the price was high. Similarly, low oil prices are not too low for *all* producers. Certainly some businesses have gone bankrupt and the bankruptcies have led to curtailments and shut-ins, but the multinational “majors” and national oil companies have never been in such a position, not even when Cushing oil prices briefly went negative this year. They’ve allowed other limited-liability companies and naïve investors to take on most of the risk of the higher-cost marginal production.

Now to material costs of batteries for transportation energy. Michaux’ analysis of BEVs for road transport looks pretty good on the face of it. BEVs on the road use significantly less primary energy than do petroleum-driven vehicles. I think there’s no likelihood of replacing all today’s road vehicles, let alone the far higher number of read vehicles projected for later in the century, with BEVs powered by today’s lithium-ion chemistries. Mineral scarcity is one reason for this (manganese and cobalt are more of a limiting factor than lithium itself). I doubt very much that the number of vehicles on the world’s roads will continue to grow at all beyond the 2020s. However it *is* very likely that a large fraction of the road vehicle fleet will indeed be replaced with lithium-ion BEVs relatively soon, and that chemistries relying mainly on more abundant minerals, and/or making more efficient use of some of the scarce ones, will be developed to a standard suitable for vehicle use in coming decades.

While light-weight batteries are of course most desirable for road and (maybe) air transport, the lightest possible battery isn’t an absolute necessity for mid-sized vehicles with shorter ranges, or for very heavy vehicles, or for stationary energy. A promising mid-weight battery chemistry without mineral scarcity questions, for stationary energy and for vehicles of the scale of a delivery van, a short-haul truck or a city bus, is sodium-sulphur. This could be suitable for rail and short-haul shipping also, but is unlikely to be useful for long-haul trucking (because lighter batteries are needed) or shipping.

While there’s every likelihood of batteries playing a role in short-haul marine transport (indeed a few battery-electric ferries already exist), some relevant numbers are missing from the analysis of their appropriateness for trans-oceanic shipping: the longer the haul, the greater fraction of the ship’s weight must be taken up storing the energy to power the trip. No battery chemistry is light or compact or (perhaps most importantly) cheap enough to power long-haul shipping across oceans. Some kind of energy carrier with a lower cost per unit energy capacity, and higher energy density, would be required for long-haul shipping.

Michaux gives a nod here or there to biofuels, and I certainly think that fossil fuels and/or biofuels will continue to have a (diminishing) role in the fields of aviation, long-haul shipping and as the backup role in stationary energy, meeting shortfalls in those few weeks when the wind blows but little and the sun is in hiding), even as electricity takes over many of the other roles of petroleum. But in the end game for fossil fuels, it’s good to know that synthetic fuels (in the forms of hydrogen, methane, methanol, petroleum-lookalike Fischer-Tropsch alkanes, ammonia), produced with energy from wind and solar electricity, can be produced with methods that are already well-understood, at costs comparable to the costs of today’s fossil fuels. The quantities required, thanks to electrification elsewhere and de-growth everywhere, would be only a small fraction of today’s petroleum demand. The electricity needed to produce them would be substantial, but the overcapacity required to build a least-cost wind- and solar-based power grid should mean there are good seasonal surpluses when electricity for fuel production is available at very low cost. We’ll be making hay when the sun shines, and neither shipping nor aviation will need to use batteries.

22 09 2020
22 09 2020

Very low cost energy is breaking the energy sector. If we can’t afford to pay for energy, there won’t be any to buy.

26 09 2020
Jonathan Maddox

This argument makes no sense whatsoever. People will always afford *something* for *some* energy. Humans will work for food and warmth. So long as there are wealth inequalities in the world, some people can pay more for energy than others, perhaps condemning the poorest to freeze and starve. Inhumanity is nothing new to humanity. But there will still be energy available for a price, no matter what.

Specifically with petroleum, the most volatile sector and the supposed “master resource” of so many pointless arguments, it remains a necessary input to things people value very highly. We will forego air-freighted, out-of-season fruits long before we forego potatoes. Everyone will go on paying enough for bread that wheat gets planted, harvested and trucked to town, mills and ovens keep running. The value of the bread underwrites the value of the petroleum required to produce it. The labour of the people who need to eat underwrites the price they are prepared to pay for bread. They’ll give up holidays before they’ll give up breakfast.

So long as petroleum is a practical necessity to produce the necessities of life, the necessary price to produce it will be supported by the necessities it helps to produce. The price people will be willing to pay *cannot* fall below its cost until it is no longer considered necessary. (Short term low costs to producers this year indicated a glut, with suppliers paying people to take the stuff away from a congested distribution hub … the price at the bowser was never negative).

We know that petroleum is not a literal, technical necessity to produce bread. Manual labour and fuelwood were sufficient six thousand years ago and they’ll do the job today. But as long as petroleum is a cheaper way to do it for practical purposes, we’ll all keep paying for it to be done that way. We’ll only stop if petroleum costs more than something else.

That something else might be manual labour, or it might be solar electricity. I consider the latter significantly more likely.

22 09 2020

‘The financial system is not “saturated with debt”: it is *all* debt and it is supposed to be all debt, that is how it works and how it has always worked.”

That is not true. Once upon a time people had some equity in what they were buying or producing, now they don’t. The level of leveraging is now so high, there’s little to no funding left to consume, not a bad thing really, unless you are an economist…

26 09 2020
Jonathan Maddox

I have no idea what it might mean to consume funding. Money is nothing more nor less than a financial obligation of its issuer, a transferable IOU. I am also pretty vague on the notion of having equity, or not, in everyday products and services. A mortgaged house or car that is put up for security against the loan with which it is purchased (one massive IOU from the lending bank), sure. But we don’t hock our food and fuel in the process of buying them.

23 09 2020
Simon Michaux

Hi everyone. The purpose of this work was to bring EU admin thinking back to reality. They think they can take he whole system EV (or hydrogen) in just 10 years. I have personally heard this in meetings. Their thinking is dictated by the need for 2% growth p.a. and phase out fossil fuels.
I was at a banker finance meeting discussing the future battery industry. It was openly discussed that whoever moves first will lose everything to whoever moves second and third. This is probably Tesla’s fate. These guys are all waiting for the European Investment Bank to invest and startup the ecosystem for components and battery manufacture in Europe. Then all private sector groups will just step in and take the market. They won’t move until they can make a killing and are all waiting like vultures. I personally heard one of the guys from Deutsche say “in 2008 they printed money to bail us out, they can print money for this”. The EC rep said that was not going to happen. The Deutsche guy then said “so we wait for you to come to your senses, we have plenty of ways of making money elsewhere like we always do”.

26 09 2020
Jonathan Maddox

Ten years to “take the whole system EV” is terribly optimistic. Some large fraction of new vehicle production will be EV within ten years for sure. How large that fraction is remains to be seen.

I think the Deutsche guy is probably right, and until the public financing required to fund the transition is forthcoming, the second and third movers will do nothing more than to ensure their readiness to move when it does.

And I’ve no doubt that it will. With multiple EU legislatures laying out timelines for a ban on ICE vehicles, how can the EIB not fall in line? This is its one job.

Whether it starts pumping money soon enough, in the right places, to eat Tesla’s lunch is another, not particularly relevant question. (It would be personally relevant to us if we were gambling on Tesla shares … are we? I’m not…)

23 09 2020
Simon Michaux

Currently all battery development projects and discussions across all levels of action from universities to European Commission to private sector companies are heavily invested in lithium ion battery tech. They may look at alternatives briefly but then will force all work to be done on Li-ion chemistry. NMC-811 is considered the next widespread application. I am advising a private group in them investing in technology that is not Li-ion. The push back they got back from other commercial entities that was so savage that the project was shut down. “we understand what you are saying but we are so heavily invested in lithium chemistry, we cannot consider anything else, you are on your own”.

So market forces are indeed at work, where the market has a group think and a self funded eco chamber. The problem with this is society at large will industrially develop on a solution that will not work in a wide enough scope to be accessible for society at large. It takes time to re-engineer to a different solution. It will take years. Meanwhile supply and demand economic forces will result in disruption. This whole system thinks it can go back to oil and gas anytime they want if the EV thing does not work out. The purpose of this work is to get the right people actually looking at the practical logistics. When limitations become clear, steps can be taken to develop parallel systems.

26 09 2020
Jonathan Maddox

Variations of lithium-ion will work just fine for many millions of vehicles. Perhaps not so great for farmers depending on the subterranean aquifers of the semi-arid altiplano, of course.

It will be long enough before the EV industry has to scale to the hundreds of millions of vehicles, that it probably won’t have to try to do so using lithium chemistries exclusively. Life will go on without us keeping multiple billions of vehicles on the road.

I’m impressed to hear you were working on one of the alternate chemistries, and sorry to hear that it has missed out on funding now. But the chemistry won’t go away.

Neither will oil and gas go away altogether, not for a very long time. The market volume — both demand and supply — will be slashed, by de-growth and by electrification, but not to zero overnight.

23 09 2020
Simon Michaux

The oil price model I proposed to me is common sense. There is a point when the market cannot support a higher price. There is also a point where producers lose money and are not viable. This is basic price discovery. Supply and demand is a dynamic system that interacts. There comes a point when a market like oil becomes not useful anymore and we are required to go and find something else.

26 09 2020
Jonathan Maddox

You wrote “too expensive for all consumers” and “too cheap for all producers”.

The price was never too expensive for all consumers. The price was too expensive for the least useful marginal consumption. The activities, not the consumers themselves. Other activities and many people proceeded with no change, or only slight behaviour adjustments in response to changes in income and expenses. A few, whose incomes were deeply affected by the downturn in travel and tourism industries, or whose livelihoods depended on marginal energy consumption in other ways (such as long-distance commutes), suffered greatly. Most did not.

The price has never been too low for all producers. Only marginal producers have gone bankrupt. Their financial risks have been managed quite separately from the real resources of the major oil corporations and oil-producing nations. Despite the bankruptcies, the physical assets still exist, obviously oil too expensive to extract remains in the ground, but in some cases even the pumps have kept pumping. Investment has stopped, the active “rig count” has plummeted, and people who worked “in the oil patch” are finding themselves out of work. Some suffer and must change behaviour, most do not. Well, almost everyone has changed behaviour thanks to the pandemic, but a typical pandemic-free response to very low oil prices would have been to discount air tickets. I finished school in 1992 and a few of my 17-year-old classmates bought seats on one-way charter flights to Europe for a couple of hundred bucks, because that was a thing.

23 09 2020
Simon Michaux

The chart shown at 25:31 minutes shows how the metal price market changed structurally in early 2005. The 2008 GFC, a large economic correction did not resolve the volatility. Since then the whole system has been held up by quantitative easing, or the printing of money. There are many historical examples of where this kind of problem solving leads to. Hyperinflation is now a very real risk. That most central banks around the world are taking on more debt each year for some time now is a marker for this. This is the equivalent of living on our credit card. At some point the debt has to be paid. We are going backwards not forwards in debt profile. I have found over the years that many economists do not like this logic chain and insist that this is perfectly normal. Each to their own.

26 09 2020
Jonathan Maddox

I’m very interested what you think the cause of this “structural” change in the metal price market might have been. Wasn’t it just the resources boom of China’s rapid industrialisation? Or was it so early that traders began to bet on a change to a mineral-based energy system? Or were speculators just looking for hedges against the volatility of oil, as oil demand hit a (temporary) ceiling in oil production capacity?

High inflation or hyperinflation does not result in any increased obligation to repay financial debts. Quite the contrary: the debt is reduced to insignificance by the decline in purchasing power of the currency it’s denominated in, or forgiven in whole or in part, or the indebted party ceases to exist. The burden of debts is drastically reduced by high inflation, and exacerbated by deflation (hence “debt deflation”: a spiral every bit as painful for working people as hyperinflation).

Sovereign public debts never have to be paid in full. The UK’s public debt has been outstanding for at least 330 years. Each individual bond is paid on time at maturity, but the total amount outstanding has never been reduced to zero. Most governments of developed economies rarely run a surplus. Public spending is required to impart the confidence in demand that businesses need to be able to invest. Counter-cyclical changes in public spending are required, in deficit much of the time unless a country has a steady source of foreign income, to keep a capitalist economy on an even keel. The debt needs to grow, not shrink, because it is the lowest-risk financial asset which can back the growing savings pool of the private sector. Surpluses, even brief ones, are often promptly followed by financial crises because money has been taken out of the market.

The very large figures and “money printing” seen in QE represented nothing more than a swap of one form of public sector financial obligation (already-outstanding interest-bearing bonds) for another (reserve balances), denominated in the money issued by the public sector, at prices chosen by the public sector. Far more important and iniquitous in terms of rewarding the wealthy for fleecing the less wealthy, were the public bailouts of private-sector banks turned casinos, some of which were unconventionally conducted by central banks (the purchase of certain private-sector bonds and shares by Maiden Lane LLC, a subsidiary of the US Federal Reserve, for instance) and some of which were perfectly normal public spending by the executive government (the nationalisation of Northern Rock). None of those involved the printing of money.

De-growth is a real, unprecedented thing and there is no question that there will have to be some additional price increases to go along with it: products and services will genuinely cost more because there’ll be less of them to go around. Rationing may be an option to avoid significant inflation in the essentials of life. Indeed rationing may be an obligation to achieve de-growth in the first place. Any attempt to cut production and/or keep general price inflation low by the traditional neoliberal means of cutting public spending or hiking interest rates would cause mass unemployment, deep poverty and the risk of spiralling debt deflation. Hyperinflation is of course a possibility if there is an abrupt collapse in supply and if the policy response is (as it probably has to be) drastically increased spending to compensate. Yet is is not an inevitability: the Covid-19 pandemic has caused a large drop in supply, but demand has also been cut by a comparable amount, and the public spending to maintain lives and livelihoods is barely enough to keep demand for basic essentials steady. General price inflation is just not happening.

A hyper-degrowth would trigger hyperinflation. A managed decline in industrial turnover would see managed, not hyper, inflation.

26 09 2020
Simon Michaux

I did a systems analysis that came back with a change in the oil industry. In Jan 2005 Saudi oil production decreased a little and they tried really hard to raise production (added rigs) and did not get results for 36 months. In that time, global oil production plateaued. Demand kept growing (in line with population growth, and desired economic growth). So supply and demand separated for a short time. Oil is the master resource in context of physical systems. This formed a chain reaction. Now fracking has been applied industrially, but the cost of fracking is much higher than conventional oil (mostly).

26 09 2020
Jonathan Maddox

Agreed. 2005-2008 was a period when oil demand hit a production ceiling. Fracking is the dominant way in which oil supply capacity has been increased since, but it is not the only one. With declining demand from this year onwards, it’s possible we will never hit a supply ceiling like that again.

26 09 2020
Simon Michaux

Everything points to all large economic blocks understanding that the system will structurally change disruptively. All entities are taking strategic steps to be the dominant group after the reset, where the average person is hung out to dry. The Chinese have been most successful. their place as the industrial superpower is pretty secure, now they have to manage the erosion of the system. Russia was also successful in a smaller way but have yet to insulate themselves from China in the future. The Americans have really screwed the pooch. the Europeans are still asleep.

23 09 2020
Simon Michaux

These are the numbers, going steadily in one direction. Pure and simple.

23 09 2020
No name

Brandon Young, please elaborate. Describe the brave new world after the tweaked capitalism that you recommend has worked out its wonders. What is then the year, 2050? How does the civilization power itself? How does it feed itself without agricultural emissions? How many happy consumers will be there on the planet? Where did the emissions, biodiversity decline and loss of soil go? What happened to the carbon that has been already released into the environment?

24 09 2020
Brandon Young

Happy to elaborate, although I am very busy for the next couple of days. I presume you found the outline of the scheme in the Global Carbon Sinking Fund post on my blog. I will post a considered response there in the coming days if Mike doesn’t want my response to appear here. For now I can offer some short answers to your good questions:

I can imagine a path towards global agreement in 2025 for a scheme to control greenhouse gas concentrations through a very simple carbon price and a very simple carbon sinking reward price. The scheme start date could be as soon as say 2027, probably excluding the neoliberal basket cases like the US and Australia. This outcome could only be achieved with a sustained effort by an increasing online collaboration, and I can propose a plan for that.

Civilisation will power itself under whatever mix of energy sources proves most efficient and profitable under the new pricing dynamics. Fossil fuels will probably still be a fair portion of the mix in the beginning, but the mix will certainly evolve over time, and pick up any new technologies that become more feasible, because more research and development will be funded in pursuit of a share of the assured large income streams.

Negative emissions are already a reality in regenerative agriculture. There are existing processes that build up soil carbon in enormous quantities and for most if not all cropping and pasture systems, not just creating negative emissions but also increasing crop yield, nutrient density of food grains, and the amount of water retained in soils, while dramatically reducing input costs, especially chemicals, and improving fire and drought resistance of farmlands.

Governments have resisted advocating or supporting the transition to more sustainable and more profitable regenerative agriculture because the economics and politics currently work against it. National governments need the enormous volumes of toxic chemicals used in destructive industrial agricultural practices to be counted as GDP, and the banking system depends on enormous volumes of farm debt to keep its profits flowing. The global pricing scheme would completely reverse these dynamics, making it in the interest of banks and politicians alike to help farmers overcome the old destructive ways. The world would be fed by farming systems that build up rich healthy soils and don’t overdose on toxic chemicals that kill land over time and spread out to poison local rivers and ecosystems. The change in agriculture under a proper carbon pricing scheme will be profound. The world will have much greater capacity to feed itself while reversing the destruction of the agricultural lands.

Countries will also receive large revenue streams for carbon sequestered by their natural carbon sinks, so there will be enormous economic and political incentives to protect them and restore them where possible. There is enough potential in the combination of agriculture switching to regenerative practices on a large scale and restoration of natural carbon sinks under the pricing scheme to create zero emissions over the whole planet, even with no other action by the industrial system.

Fortunately, agriculture and reforestation do not need to do all of the heavy lifting, because there is plenty of capacity for the industrial system to transition away from the most carbon inefficient processes, as long as the businesses involved are given significant economic incentive to make the switch. With a serious global price on carbon emissions, the global race will be on, and the countries that can get their businesses to adapt most rapidly will gain the most benefit. The pricing signals will generate wave after wave of market innovation and greatly increase the urgency of market competition. As I said above, the pricing signals are not really about what individual people do, but how businesses adapt, and the greater the pricing signals grow, the more impetus for constructive change. It may prove the case that recalcitrant nations like Australia and the US that fail to get on board in the beginning would fall so far behind in the race that they would never be able to catch up … giving even more impetus for the rest of the world to adopt the scheme early and start transforming their economies for the negative emissions era.

As to how many “happy consumers” I think that phrase is an oxymoron. The world may or may not need to set goals on population. With the increasing sustainability of agriculture and industry that comes with dynamic carbon pricing, there may not be any need to deliberately target population growth. It is possible that the increased prosperity under a far more efficient system and a far more circular economy actually lead to population decline even in developing countries.

Obviously biodiversity loss will be reversed as natural carbon sinks like rainforests, forests, wetlands and mangrove systems are protected and restored where possible. The deliberate building up of soil carbon volumes via regenerative agriculture and reforestation is covered in detail in my post about Boosting Nature’s Cooling System if you have time to absorb that too.

As to “What happened to the carbon that has been already released into the environment?” you will discover in that post that water is responsible for the overwhelming share of the heat dynamics that govern the planet, not carbon dioxide, and there is more than enough power in the soil-carbon sponge via natural hydrological processes to remove the excess heat from the Earth-atmosphere system.

All of this is just about arming a global scheme with the singular goal of controlling greenhouse gas concentrations. Any other goal that can be agreed at the global level can be achieved in the same way. Any goal that could be agreed at the national level could be achieved with exactly the scheme, charging businesses a penalty price for activities that work against economic, social or environmental goals, and paying out the revenues to organisations that contribute to delivering those goals.

24 09 2020

“Civilisation will power itself under whatever mix of energy sources proves most efficient and profitable under the new pricing dynamics”

See, THIS is your problem…. The efficiency of energy has NOTHING to do with pricing. If renewables cannot supply enough energy to run your capitalism, then it doesn’t even matter if it’s free. The whole world stops….

24 09 2020
Brandon Young

“The efficiency of energy has NOTHING to do with pricing.”

Actually it does. The higher the price on carbon emissions, the more expensive fossil fuel based energy becomes, and the greater the market incentives to drive up energy efficiency in all products and industrial processes. With any price on carbon, the total volume of energy consumed will be reduced. With a large dynamic price on carbon, one great enough to drive negative net emissions over time, the mix of energy sources will be dominated more and more by energy sources with low emissions footprints, and the overall volume of energy consumed will be reduced significantly.

A lot of excessive consumption of consumerist crap will be eliminated, as it simply becomes uneconomic when the true cost of energy production is included in the prices of all goods and services. The focus will move from empty headed public policy that aims to maximise the volume of consumption in GDP terms, to far more selective consumption that actually improves quality of life.

It is true that there is generally a presumption that any alternative energy policy will need to provide a volume for volume replacement of fossil fuel based energy. This presumption has to go, and that is one of the primary objectives of the marketing of the messaging about a serious carbon sinking scheme.

24 09 2020

For God’s sake, WHEN will you understand energy return is not dependent on money, it’s how many Joules or kWhours generated that matters. If you taxed the hell out of fossil fuels and we all switched to renewables, the economy would completely collapse from lack of energy when the sun don’t shine and the wind don’t blow and the batteries are flat…..

It’s not an economic predicament, it’s a physical one….

24 09 2020
Brandon Young

“It’s not am economic predicament, it’s a physical one….”

It is both, and more. It is also a financial predicament, a social predicament, an ecological predicament, and an existential predicament for industrialised human civilisation. There may be a fixed physical relationship between each individual energy source and the volume of production and consumption it can support, but the relationship with the mix of energy sources is not physically static, it is dynamic and able to change according to the economics applied.

The freedom to impose pricing signals is the power we have to change the reality of the energy mix and what the industrial system does with it. We cannot change the laws of physics, but we sure as hell can change the politics and the economics that govern the system, if we collectively turn our minds to it.

24 09 2020
Brandon Young

I have posted a response but it hasn’t appeared yet. If it doesn’t make it past moderation I will post it on my site under Global Carbon Sinking Fund.

24 09 2020

I didn’t moderate you, WordPress did. And if you post while I am asleep (yes, I do sleep…) then you have to wait until I wake up to fix it. WordPress filters out an outstanding amount of spam none of you would want to read, but for reasons it only knows, occasionally frequent posters have their comments sent to trash or spam…. It pains me as much as you…

24 09 2020
Simon Michaux

The problem is the real system practical needs are not discussed openly. Any problem solving system you might propose cannot function without clear information

12 01 2021

SEPTEMBER 20, 2020
• Green Fraud • Ozone Fraud
• Pollution Fraud • Extinction Fraud
• Tipping Point Fraud • Tree Fraud
• Academic Fraud • Loki Fraud
• Comments

All Loki’s serious research sources are in the links above
Loki is my dog and does all my homework, don’t trust him he’s been wrong about everything since 1977

The 2020s is the decade of failling supply chains. No food no water makes Johnny a dull boy. Yanks pump freshwater underground for gas to charge EVs in a megdrought. China builds more urban infrastructure in 3 yrs than America ever did in 100

Solar & Wind < 3% of energy
— We must cut emissions 50% in 10 yrs to delay 1.5 °C
— 2 °C can’t be stopped but can be delayed
— But, electricity is only 20% of energy
— So, 100% renewable electricity = 20% of energy
— Fossil fuels have been 85-91% of energy since 1980
— Wind turbine plans for 2030 = 800 million tons of coal says Vaclav Smil
— Wind turbine demand for rare earth will grow up to 26X by 2040
— The market for magnetic rare earth oxides is to increase 5X by 2030
— EVs will fuel a 275% increase in demand for rare earths by 2025
— Basic resource depletion threats are up — RE demand will exceed supply
— Batteries and hydrogen can’t scale up in time to prevent 1.5 °C
— EV and Wind rare earth demands alone will overwhelm supplies
— If batteries were 60% more efficient we would use 60X more of them
— Over 60 yrs jets are 68% more efficient fly 60X more passengers
— 2.63 billion air trips were taken in 2010
— 4.4 billion trips in 2018 — 8 billion trips /year planned for 2050
— Euros burn imported trees, seed oils for enery — plastic & paper for electricity
— Yanks pump fresh water underground for gas to charge EVs in a megadrought
— Fracking and conventional enhanced oil and gas use lots of water
— 66% of humanity will live in water stressed areas by 2025
— EV battery and bio-energy extraction harms water & wildlife
— By 2035 US farms will lose up to 8X the soil of the Dust Bowl
— Wetland loss is greater than tree loss
— Inland sea & lake levels will drop globally — ofen dramatically
— 40% of Amazon rainforests don’t know their ass is grass yet
— Cooling demand will grow 3X by 2050 = US EU Japan electricty use
— 24% of energy will be electricity by 2040
— Not even 3% of energy is solar & wind
— 1.5 °C is likely by 2030 — 2 °C is locked in
— Earth is heating by 400,000 Hiroshima nukes / day
— Earth was heating 1 nuke /sec 60 years ago — 5 nukes /sec now
— 1971 – 2018 global heat forcing averaged 0.47 watss/m²
— 2010 – 2018 global heat forcing averaged 0.87 watts/m²
— Earth jumped a 50 yr (0.18 °C /decade) trendline in 5 years
— Hansen speaks of meters per decade sea level rise by mid century
— 4% of mammals are wild by weight — 96% of mammals are livestock and human
— With 23 billion chickens on earth, if one sneezes we all get the flu
— Greenhouse gases went up 45% in 30 yrs
— 30% of energy from algae would use land the size of Argentina
— We kill trees 2X faster than we plant them
— Net tree loss is reaching as high as 1 football field per second
— Trees grow faster die younger in heat fire flood & drought
— Battery & Bio-energy extraction destroys native land water & wildlife

Global energy expert Vaclav Smil says:
— North Euro offshore wind turbines work 30% of the time
— North Euro onshore wind turbines work 22% of the time
— One of those offshore Texas would work 35% of the time
— North Euro solar panels work 11% of the time

Green Energy Harms Native Freedom Land Water & Wildlife
— Europe get over 50% of its renewable energy burning trees & seed oils
— Europe burns 80% of global wood pellets for renewable electricity
— Europe burns 40% of its recycled plastic & paper for electricity
— Europe burns 65% of its palm oil for bio-energy
— Dams destroy river wildlife up and down the rivers
— Shipping trees and palm oil overseas for green energy is criminal
— Europe’s carbon credit cap & trade system is old and corrupt
— Europe’s global carbon fund is rife with corruption


Support James Hansen’s monthly private carbon dividends
— 100% to you 0% to governments & corporations
— That’s why both governments and corporations hate it
— That’s why both socialists and capitalists hate it
— This is where scales of efficiency actually pay off

Monthly Private Dividends = Real Climate Racial Justice
(not the academic kind)

26 Nobel Prize winning economists support James Hansen’s monthly dividends, including: 3,589 U.S. Economists, 4 Former Chairs of the Federal Reserve and ALL 15 Former Chairs of the Council of Economic Adviser

zz zzz zzzz

Global Supply Chain Insecurity Intensified by Water

National Soil Erosion Rates on Track to Repeat Dust Bowl-era Losses Eight Times Over
— UCS 2020
Expect More Mega-Droughts
— Science Daily 2020
Fresh Water Per Person Plunges 20% In 20 Yrs
– FAO 2020
By 2025 66% of people will live in water stressed areas
– Nat Geo 2020
4 billion people live one month per year in water shressed areas
– Sci Adv 2016
1.9 billion people at risk from mountain water shortages
— Guardian 2019
50% of Global Thermal Electric Capacity Threatened By Water Shortages
– WRI 2017
30% of planned hydro projects threatened by water stress
– WWF 2020
Climate change: US megadrought ‘already under way’
— BBC 2020
Water use for fracking has risen by up to 770% since 2011
– Science Daily 2018
44% of Coal Plants Risk Global Water Shortage
– Unearthed 2016

12 01 2021

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