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Thu Mar 2, 2017, 06:43 PM

ORNL Carbon Dioxide Information Center to Shut 9/30/17. View the Emissions Data While You Can.

Last edited Fri Mar 3, 2017, 07:46 AM - Edit history (1)

One of the earliest thinkers to reflect on climate change was the great engineering scientist Alvin Weinberg, who headed the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) from 1955 until 1973, when he was fired by the Nixon Administration.

Here is one of his papers, from 1977 on the subject of climate change How long is coal's future?

In case you're laboring under the illusion that coal has, um, gone away, ORNL maintains a database of carbon emissions from various sources, which, now that we live in a world ruled by liars and lies, will disappear forever on September 30, 2017. (Welcome to the future). Here is the webpage of this database: CDIAC, Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Fossil Carbon Dioxide Emissions

By clicking on this link, one can be directed to a page with links to spreadsheets, papers, and other data about how we're doing with carbon dioxide emissions. Global Carbon Project - Full Global Carbon Budget (1959-2015)

Let's click together on November 2016's carbon budget xls file to see how we're doing with doing away with coal. To do this click on the tab on the bottom, "Fossil Fuel Emissions by Fuel Type." The numbers you see are in millions of tons of carbon. To convert this to carbon dioxide one should take the ratio - assuming you're not in Greenpeace and therefore can do math - between the molecular weight of carbon dioxide (44.0098 amu) and the atomic weight of carbon (12.011 amu), which as noted in the header, leads to a factor of 3.664.

Doing this, one can see that the world total for carbon dioxide emissions from dangerous fossil fuels now stands at 36.262 billion tons (with a few billion tons thrown in to make concrete). This is the highest emission rate ever observed since the data started being tabulated in 1959.

Carbon dioxide emissions from coal peaked in 2014, and fell by 0.279 billion tons, or by 1.8% in 2015 to 15.030 billion tons. However we were emitting 170% of the coal waste carbon dioxide in 2015 than we were in the year 2000, and emitting 239% as much coal waste as we were in 1976 when Amory Lovins predicted that the world would soon be saved by conservation and so called "renewable energy."

The decreases in carbon dioxide from dangerous coal were more than made up by increases in carbon dioxide emissions from petroleum, (+0.225 billion tons) and dangerous natural gas (+0.115 billion tons). Thus 2015 was the worst year ever, which is also reflected in the readings at Mauna Loa where we passed 400 ppm in 2015. No one alive will ever see a reading lower than 400 ppm, and the reason is we lie to ourselves.

If you've been checking in to this forum over the years - I started in the early 2000's - you've been reading all kinds of happy horseshit about "solar breakthroughs" "world's largest solar plant" "wind briefly produces 60% of Spain's electricity on 'such and such a date'." So on and so on.

Maybe these kinds of announcements made you happy.

Everybody loves so called "renewable energy" except a few cranks like me. It, um, didn't work. It's not working. And as noted recently in a paper in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change, it won't work.

(They phrase it far more diplomatically than I do by writing:

Despite the extraordinary growth rates of wind and solar in recent years, greatly accelerated expansion is required in the next decades. Most scenarios have limited scope for large-scale hydropower expansion due to geophysical constraints. Further, most scenarios indicate strong growth in nuclear energy, but there is renewed uncertainty from the drop in public support since the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi accident. Scenarios indicate that renewables alone may not be sufficient to stay below 2 C given physical constraints to large-scale deployment and the need to offset emissions in some sectors20, such as agriculture.


The um, "extraordinary growth" to which they refer, represented a two trillion dollar investment in wind and solar alone over the last ten years. Wind and solar combined, do not supply even 5 of the 570 exajoules of energy humanity generates and consumes each year.)

Their gentle phrasing doesn't stop me from saying that "renewable energy" won't work, and, um, it won't. (The reason is physics, with a little bit of materials science thrown in.)

The nuclear "disaster" at Fukushima Daiichi mentioned by the Nature Climate Change paper's authors was a trivial event, given that 7 million people die each year from direct health effects of air pollution, deaths from climate change not included. One has to love selective attention; it does such wonderful things, at least if you're into maintaining jobs in the coal industry. If 1000 people were to die from Fukushima radiation - they won't - it wouldn't represent even two hours worth of air pollution deaths from dangerous fossil fuels and biomass combustion, deaths that continue unabated hour after hour, day after day, and decade after decade with no hope for ending them in sight.

The public, though, doesn't support nuclear energy.

Alvin Weinberg saved more than a million lives that otherwise would have been lost to air pollution by overseeing the invention the pressurized water nuclear reactor. Other work of his is popular in pro-nuclear circles, the famous liquid fluoride thorium reactor. (I used to be a big fan of this reactor myself, but I changed my mind. Better reactors are possible and were even built - albeit using primitive technology - years before the MSRE - Molten Salt Reactor Experiment.)

Anyway. Don't worry. Be happy. If you find yourself being fond of lies, like, um "coal is dead" you're hardly the only one, as we all know by observing the orange slime mold that's infected the White House.

Have a nice evening.

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