Kevin Anderson & Hugh Hunt – A Rule Book for the Climate Casino

14 12 2018

https://ScientistsWarning.TV – Kevin and Hugh are back with us this year discussing the new ‘climate glitterati’ that come annually to Davos to feign concern about the climate while they discuss techno-fixes that might allow the (in their minds at least) to continue their excessive lifestyle that is heading us directly for runaway climate change and collapse.

Hat Tip to Chris Harries for this COPOUT chart…..
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Kevin Anderson tells it like it is…..

26 05 2018

 





Paris, climate and surrealism

27 07 2017

Speaker: Prof. Kevin Anderson, Professor of energy and climate change

Title: Paris, climate and surrealism: how numbers reveal an alternate reality

The Paris Agreement’s inclusion of “well below 2°C” and “pursue … 1.5°C” has catalysed fervent activity amongst many within the scientific community keen to understand what this more ambitious objective implies for mitigation. However, this activity has demonstrated little in the way of plurality of responses. Instead there remains an almost exclusive focus on how future ‘negative emissions technologies’ (NETs) may offer a beguiling and almost free “get out of jail card”.
This presentation argues that such a dominant focus reveals an endemic bias across much of the academic climate change community determined to voice a politically palatable framing of the mitigation landscape – almost regardless of scientific credibility. The inclusion of carbon budgets within the IPCC’s latest report reveals just how few years remain within which to meet even the “well below 2°C” objective.

Making optimistic assumptions on the rapid cessation of deforestation and uptake of carbon capture technologies on cement/steel production, sees a urgent need to accelerate the transformation of the energy system away from fossil fuels by the mid 2030s in the wealthier nations and 2050 globally. To put this in context, the national mitigation pledges submitted to Paris see an ongoing rise in emissions till 2030 and are not scheduled to undergo major review until 2023 – eight years, or 300 billion tonnes of CO2, after the Paris Agreement.

Despite the enormity and urgency of 1.5°C and “well below 2°C” mitigation challenge, the academic community has barely considered delivering deep and early reductions in emissions through the rapid penetration of existing end-use technologies and profound social change. At best it dismisses such options as too expensive compared to the discounted future costs of a technology that does not yet exist. At worst, it has simply been unprepared to countenance approaches that risk destabilising the political hegemony.

Ignoring such sensibilities, the presentation concludes with a draft vision of what an alternative mitigation agenda may comprise.





Who cares………?

2 06 2017

Trump has just declared he’s taking the USA out of the Paris accord, and everyone’s freaking out…….. I personally don’t care much, and here’s why…..

Most people don’t realize, because they’re asleep at the wheel, read too many mainstream media headlines, and rather than do their own research before holding opinions believe what they are spoon fed by their TV screens that…..:

The Paris climate agreement:

1) had absolutely no binding language in it whatsoever, nor any repercussions for any countries that did not abide by it…..

2) required an increase in fossil fuel use up to the year 2100

3) would have already at this point required absolutely no new development of fossil fuels – only what was already “proven reserves”

4) has already been violated so badly that we absolutely cannot, by their own reckoning, keep levels below a 2 degree rise by 2050

5) completely and entirely relied on “carbon capture” – a technology which doesn’t yet exist in any form and is only dreamt of – to come along by mid-century and save us from catastrophic climate change.

 Professor Kevin Anderson has this to say about the Paris agreement….

The Paris Agreement is a genuine triumph of international diplomacy and of how the French people brought an often-fractious world together to see beyond national self interest. Moreover, the agreement is testament to how assiduous and painstaking science ultimately defeated the unremitting programme of misinformation by powerful vested interests. It is the twenty-first century’s equivalent to the success of Heliocentrism over the malign and unscientific inquisition.

The international community not only acknowledged the seriousness of climate change, but demonstrated sufficient unanimity to quantitatively define it: to hold “the increase in … temperature to well below 2°C … and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C”. But, as the time-weary idiom suggests, “the devil is in the detail” – or perhaps more importantly, the lack of it.

The deepest challenge to whether the Agreement succeeds or fails, will not come from the incessant sniping of sceptics and luke-warmers or those politicians favouring a literal reading of Genesis over Darwin. Instead, it was set in train many years ago by a cadre of well-meaning scientists, engineers and economists investigating a Plan B. What if the international community fails to recognise that temperatures relate to ongoing cumulative emissions of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide? What if world leaders remain doggedly committed to a scientifically illiterate focus on 2050 (“not in my term of office”)? By then, any ‘carbon budget’ for even an outside chance of 2°C will have been squandered – and our global experiment will be hurtling towards 4°C or more. Hence the need to develop a Plan B.

Well the answer was simple. If we choose to continue our love affair with oil, coal and gas, loading the atmosphere with evermore carbon dioxide, then at some later date when sense prevails, we’ll be forced to attempt sucking our carbon back out of the atmosphere. Whilst a plethora of exotic Dr Strangelove options vie for supremacy to deliver on such a grand project, those with the ear of governments have plumped for BECCS (biomass energy carbon capture and storage) as the most promising “negative emission technology”. However these government advisors (Integrated Assessment Modellers – clever folk developing ‘cost-optimised’ solutions to 2°C by combining physics with economic and behavioural modelling) no longer see negative emission technologies as a last ditch Plan B – but rather now promote it as central pivot of the one and only Plan.

The speed and scale of emissions reduction that is actually required probably cannot be achieved while preserving the economic status quo. As climate scientist Kevin Anderson points out in a recent Nature Geoscience paper:

According to the IPCC’s Synthesis Report, no more than 1,000 billion tonnes (1,000 Gt) of CO2 can be emitted between 2011 and 2100 for a 66% chance (or better) of remaining below 2° C of warming (over preindustrial times). . . . However, between 2011 and 2014 CO2 emissions from energy production alone amounted to about 140 Gt of CO2. . . .” [Subtracting realistic emissions budgets for deforestation and cement production,] “the remaining budget for energy-only emissions over the period 2015–2100, for a ‘likely’ chance of staying below 2° C, is about 650 Gt of CO2.

To put this into perspective, recent data shows global food production (itself a major CO2 emitter), was 3.9Gt; Coal production was 9Gt; Iron Ore was 3.22Gt. The simple fact is that if we want to capture and store CO2, it will have to be done on a scale we do nothing else at……. not feeding the world, and not even feeding it its fossil fuels. ‘They’ expect to do this within less than twenty years, with technology that doesn’t yet exist, and anything remotely like what is needed,

Definition of Insanity

The world’s first commercial CO2 capture plant will be used to increase economic activity and will therefore actually increase CO2 emissions.

“It’s important to note that they will not be permanently storing the CO2 that will be captured,” she said. “Instead, it will be used for greenhouses, producing synfuels, etc. No negative emissions will be generated.”

“The captured carbon dioxide could also be used to manufacture transportation fuel, carbonated soft drinks and other products, Gebald said.”

“In order to meet the goal of removing the equivalent of 1 percent of annual global carbon dioxide emissions, 250,000 similar direct-air capture plants would have to be built, Gebald said.”

In other words, because we need to reduce our emissions by more than 50%, means we need to build over 12,500,000 of these CO2 removal machines. In under twenty years…… Think about the CO2 and debt required to accomplish this. Obviously it won’t happen, and if we try it will make things worse, because it appears that everyone’s oblivious to the fact that it is cumulative emissions that are doing the harm.

Until we get an ‘agreement’ to cease economic growth, nothing worthwhile will happen, and I therefore still hold to the conclusion nothing less than an economic collapse will ‘save us’ from climate change….. because I just cannot see any such agreement ever coming forth.





The modern version of ‘Let them eat cake’

19 11 2016

In this spontaneous conversation between two of Britain’s most vocal scientists on climate change and engineering, we see a frank analysis of the details that belie inconvenient truths for each one us……

Our current carbon pollution rate is taking us towards a planet that is on average 4ªC warmer than today with regional variations far exceeding this and changes to the natural world that will be so profound that it is fair to say, this will not be the same planet.

Carbon sequestering technologies

Anderson: “Carbon sequestration works at very small levels. Whether you could scale it up to 35 billion tonnes… this is where you suck the CO2 either out of the atmosphere or out of chimneys from power stations and then you store this as liquid CO2 somewhere for the next thousand plus years. To store this quantity of CO2, this is a huge challenge. Yet, this is normalised in almost all of the models that are advising policymakers… every single scenario that has been discussed, at this event in Paris that I have heard, assumes, without actually mentioning it up front, that this technology works. It is highly speculative!”

Carbon Budget

One of the big omissions from the Paris Accord is the mention of the carbon budget. Anderson discusses why this is so important. The remaining 900 billion tonnes that analysts say we can burn before exceeding the carbon budget for safe climate change (a figure that should not be taken as absolute fact, but rather, based on ‘scenarios’ that are themselves dependent on carbon negative technologies, that currently do not exist, and emissions reductions that should have started years ago) is meant to be divided up in a fair and equitable way, placing emphasis on the world’s poor to give them a better quality of life and resilience to climate changes in their region.

By taking out the mention of the carbon budget in the early stages of the Paris negotiations, the implication is that the conversation over who burns what can be sidestepped and the wealthy nations do not have to tackle this central issue straight on.

It is worth adding to this that achieving 1.5ºC as a safe limit of global mean temperature rise to ensure the safety of exposed regions (such as low lying lands and small island states), is only possible with aggressive and immediate decarbonisation over the next ten years. Thus, the number is only being treated as “aspirational” and not realistic.

Anderson: “The problem with carbon, it is in the dyes in my shirt. It is in the ship that brought my shirt here, it’s how we got to this event, it keeps the lights on, it’s keeping your computer running. Carbon is completely pervasive.”

The +2ºC world

Anderson: “It is highly unlikely that we will hold to 2º Centigrade. It is a choice. We know how to do this today but it does require this social and political change in the short-term.”

The reality of the issue is that we are losing the window of opportunity to stay below 2ºC. As we start looking to a 2-4ºC world, we are looking at planet that is likely to be wrought with famine, conflict, overwhelming migration and huge degradation of natural systems.

There are worrying feedbacks to warming the planet that should concern us all. One example is the collapse of global forests. A scientific study has shown that at 2.5ºC increase in temperature many of the worlds forests will collapse. These are huge carbon sinks and sources of oxygen. The world without trees is certain to be challenging.

Of course, we can add in all kinds of other impacts such as the collapse of ice sheets, melting permafrost, dying off of oceans, and they are all severely bad for life on Earth.

Social values and climate justice?

Hunt: “So, why is the mood here quite optimistic? It seems to me we may well have passed some tipping points. Time will tell in the next few decades.”

Anderson: “Part of the optimism comes from rich people in the northern hemisphere who think we can buy our way out of it…. you hear people use this kind of language… what this means is, ‘we’ll muddle through because we are rich enough to buy our way out of it, and the poor will die!’ If you look at the language we use and peel away the layers, and look beneath it, what we are saying is fairly savage!”

Hunt: “This is the modern version of ‘Let them eat cake’. We seem to be accepting that our lifestyles will not change very much. Somehow we have to put in a political framework, a legal framework, a governance framework to solve the problem, without affecting our lifestyles.”

“Geoengineering” the climate

Anderson: “Personally, my view on this is that we should do the research on these techniques and we should do the research on the techniques for sucking the CO2 out of the air, but all of our policy framing should assume they don’t work. So it is an insurance policy that has a very high probability of never paying out. So we should do the research and assume that they will never work. The problem is that we are not doing very much research and we are assuming that they work.”

Hunt: “The research that I have been involved in on the SPICE project (Stratospheric Particle Injection for Climate Engineering), a small test that we want to do, had to be stopped because of the concerns about the perception of what we were doing. It was not because of the concerns about what we were actually doing, but about the perception of what we were doing.”

“I think that this is a bit worry that the perception of what we are doing in pumping 35 billion tonnes of CO2 in the atmosphere seems not to be of any great concern, but the perception of research we might do into climate engineering is of great concern. I’m not saying that it is not a great concern but let’s get a balance.”

Anderson: “I take the view that we can actually make a big difference by making social changes now. We can still just make the 2ºC but it needs rapid and deep reductions by this relatively small set of big emitters. Because we are saying we’re not prepared to do that, therefor we have to think about the other sets of issues. I think we do need to reinvigorate the debate about social change in the short to medium term, whilst we put the low carbon energy supply in place.”

“All these other techniques are contentious and they may not work. If we could reduce our energy consumption today, that is not everybody on the planet but just a relatively small number of us. Then that definitely would have an impact on our carbon emissions very quickly.”

Optimism?

Hunt: “We are coming into a period of great stress. I think that our young kids at school now are going to be our new generation of inspirational people. I am not just relying on them rather hopefully. I just believe that the world we are going into will be very stressful and that people will rise to the challenge and great things will happen.”

Anderson: “I think we have all the tools we need to resolve this problem, pretty much at our fingertips, but we are not prepared to use them now. And the two I have mentioned are: Very significant social change for the few in the short to medium term, and engineers doing what engineers have been very good at doing for decades, if not centuries, and that is changing our infrastructure towards a very low carbon future going forward.”

“If you put those two together I think that 2ºC is still a viable goal for our society.”





Kevin Anderson on Climate Change and models

31 12 2015

Interview with Professor Kevin Anderson about the Paris Conference and what it will probably achieve, what is still possible, and the problems with the pledges and the assumptions underlying them





Why Are Climate Scientists Ignoring Peak Oil and Coal?

9 02 2014

While looking for evidence of whether Kevin Anderson realises we have problems with resources constraints, I found the below article (written three years ago mind you) which goes some way towards explaining why Climate Scientists are ignoring Peak Oil and Coal……

Climate scientists often make assumptions about large-scale growth in resource extraction without thoroughly referring to relevant studies in other disciplines. This is partially understandable given that they are not economists or political scientists. Yet I believe it is cause for concern.

While criticising the pervasive obsession with infinite growth of our political and economic institutions, it appears that many (albeit not all) climate scientists hold the belief that human ingenuity will somehow substitute declining oil with different forms of natural-gas, liquefied-coal, shale gas, and other carbon fuels at prices that can sustain growth.

For example, at the Cancun climate summit there was a paper by Professor Kevin Anderson that stated that “the only way to reduce global emissions enough, while allowing the poor nations to continue to grow, is to halt economic growth in the rich world over the next twenty years. There is compelling evidence that economic growth has already reached its global peak and that any strong return to growth (manifested by countries in the OECD or emerging economies such as China or India) will be met by a wall of triple-digit oil prices triggering another economic collapse. Continuing economic growth will also depend heavily on heavy fossil fuels, such as coal.

However, according to a study by Tadeusz W. Patzek and Gregory D. Croft, the world could also face peak coal in 2011, after which “the production rates of coal and CO2 decline, reaching 1990 levels by the year 2037″.

This estimate of the peak is early compared to other studies predicting peaks over the next few decades, but the report authors claim that this is because the world will seek to consume the highest-quality and most accessible coal first and leave the less energy-dense and least accessible coal to burn later (and most likely only for certain critical economic/military sectors).

The crucial point is that all our theoretically large supplies will not become economically viable because of a lower energy return on energy invested (or EROEI).  This will ultimately have repercussions for economic growth and affordable prices.

A piece written by Uppsala University physics professor Kjell Aleklett also criticizes the level of economic awareness of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scientists with respect to coal.

“Our conclusion is that the assumptions of coal use that the IPCC recommended that climate researchers refer to in calculating their future horror scenarios are completely unrealistic. The question is why at all these gigantic volumes of carbon dioxide emission are to be found among the possible scenarios. The IPCC bears a great responsibility for the fact that thousands of climate researchers around the world have dedicated years of research to calculating temperature increases for scenarios that are completely unrealistic.”

The question is, how much impact will coal have on CO2 given how dependent the global economy is on oil? Dave Cohen of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas writes concerning the projected “business as usual” (BAU) scenario in a world of peak oil:

“In all BAU scenarios, it is presumed that energy technology (coal-to-liquids, biofuels, electric cars, any or all of these) will seamlessly step up to replace oil as the need arises. This assumption is not yet proven, and it appears to be tragically unrealistic.”

Cohen also mentions how CO2 emissions fell in the United States as a response to the recession, and they also fell in many industrialized nations in 2008 (albeit global emissions rose slightly overall due to Chinese and Indian growth), but with a global fall being confirmed for 2009.

[NOTE: they have significantly risen since 2009…]

Importantly, any significant prospect of economic growth is likely to trigger another oil price-hike and another recession with its associated emissions declines. Obviously though, the emission declines are nowhere near enough to prevent growth in overall CO2 concentration in the atmosphere.

Growth misunderstandings

Looking at the predictions of climate scientists, we see certain assumptions about growth without factoring in the economic impacts that occurred as a result of the 2007-08 recession. For example, Climate Progress’s Joseph Romm reports that “[c]onsequently, and with tentative signs of global emissions returning to their earlier levels of growth, 2010 represents a political tipping point.”

It is hard to tell when such strong growth will occur once more. But what seems clear is that any strong increase in demand will quickly tell us that we are at the end of growth — particularly when we have a global derivatives debt that is almost 20 times the size of the world economy. These derivatives are basically a complex form of financial gambling and future risk-taking. They are part of our hugely problematic debt-based money system which seemingly insists on infinite growth; a perverse concept which violates the limits of our biosphere.

So, are most climate scientists aware that the world has likely hit the limits to industrial economic growth already? It seems that global warming scenarios are based around assumptions of continuing emissions growth facilitated by a world where political, monetary, and energy systems are not in a state of turmoil. Romm makes the following assumptions:

“We’re at about 30 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year — and notwithstanding the global economic slowdown, probably poised to rise 2% per year (the exact future growth rate is quite hard to project because it depends so much on what China does and how quickly peak oil kicks in). We have to average below 18 billion tons (below 5 GtC) a year for the entire century if we’re going to stabilize at 450 ppm (see “Nature publishes my climate analysis and solution“). We need to peak around 2015 to 2020 at the latest, then drop at least 60% by 2050 to at most 15 billion tons (4 billion tons of carbon), and then go to near zero net carbon emissions by 2100.”

We now know that the IEA has admitted that conventional crude reached its all-time peak in 2006. In their 2010 report they state the following:

“Crude oil output reaches an undulating plateau of around 68-69 mb/d [million barrels per day] by 2020, but never regains its all-time peak of 70 mb/d reached in 2006, while production of natural gas liquids (NGL) and unconventional oil grows quickly.”

A German think-tank also stated a few years ago that conventional crude oil peaked in 2006.  And, when considering “unconventional” liquid-fuels as a possible measure to alleviate the impact of the peak in conventional crude, it is important to realise that there is no real evidence to suggest that  these  alternatives (such as Canada’s tar sands) can fill the gap at prices that we can afford to burn.

Facing reality

Perhaps, it is worth highlighting here that speculative assumptions leave much room for error when it comes to mathematical modelling of a system that is highly dynamic and/or based on certain unknowns. Nevertheless, the current scientific predictions make it clear that we face a hostile climate in the coming decades. Many places are likely to become badly affected by higher temperatures with global average increases of between 2-2.8 degrees Celsius (assuming a rapid decline as depicted by the Hadley Centre).

However, the triggering of any climate feedback tipping points may depend on human economic activities that are helping to perpetuate these mechanisms; and these activities in turn are dependent on affordable oil prices in a global economy.

In the worst case, triple-digit oil prices and demand-destruction, political crises and wars, etc., will likely contract the GDP of industrial nations by a large amount. For example, a possible conflict with Iran could cause oil prices to soar rapidly. Also, the US Joint Forces Command 2010 report has warned that “surplus oil production capacity could entirely disappear” by 2012 as well as warning of potential energy-based conflicts. Unfortunately, these factors are not included in the climate change projections made by bodies like the IPCC.

In a world of peak oil and of escalating political volatility, the fears and worries expressed by climate change scientists (such as those at the recent Cancun summit) concerning catastrophic climate scenarios, are looking less justified. However, as discussed above, a rapid decline in CO2 output can still potentially lead to a 2.8ºC global average temperature increase by the end of this century. Although, one could argue that even this level of CO2 growth may not come to fruition if conflicts break out over energy resources in the next few decades. This could end up forcing governments to ration energy to be used only for bare essentials.

In order for any energy system in the future to work, there must be an end to the “just-in-time” market inventory system that makes us very vulnerable to shortages. (The just-in-time system is one in which the materials needed for the manufacture of a good are delivered to the factory just as they are needed. This reduces in-process inventory and carrying costs, freeing up cash for other purposes.)

Better still, instead of waiting around for governments and businesses to move beyond their growth-fetishes, people can consider getting involved in the Transition movement as a way of empowering themselves in a world where large-scale economies can no longer operate.

Why Are Climate Scientists Ignoring Peak Oil and Coal? by Hossein Turner is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.