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Cook J.,University of Queensland | Cook J.,University of Western Australia | Nuccitelli D.,Skeptical Science | Nuccitelli D.,Tetra Tech Inc. | And 8 more authors.
Environmental Research Letters | Year: 2013

We analyze the evolution of the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming (AGW) in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, examining 11 944 climate abstracts from 1991-2011 matching the topics 'global climate change' or 'global warming'. We find that 66.4% of abstracts expressed no position on AGW, 32.6% endorsed AGW, 0.7% rejected AGW and 0.3% were uncertain about the cause of global warming. Among abstracts expressing a position on AGW, 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming. In a second phase of this study, we invited authors to rate their own papers. Compared to abstract ratings, a smaller percentage of self-rated papers expressed no position on AGW (35.5%). Among self-rated papers expressing a position on AGW, 97.2% endorsed the consensus. For both abstract ratings and authors' self-ratings, the percentage of endorsements among papers expressing a position on AGW marginally increased over time. Our analysis indicates that the number of papers rejecting the consensus on AGW is a vanishingly small proportion of the published research. © 2013 IOP Publishing Ltd.

Cook J.,University of Queensland | Cook J.,University of Western Australia | Nuccitelli D.,Skeptical Science | Skuce A.,Salt Spring Consulting Ltd. | And 8 more authors.
Energy Policy | Year: 2014

Cook et al. (2013) (C13) found that 97% of relevant climate papers endorse anthropogenic global warming (AGW), consistent with previous independent studies. Tol (in press) (T14) agrees that the scientific literature 'overwhelmingly supports' AGW, but disputes C13's methods. We show that T14's claims of a slightly lower consensus result from a basic calculation error that manufactures approximately 300 nonexistent rejection papers. T14's claimed impact on consensus due to the reconciliation process is of the wrong sign, with reconciliation resulting in a slight increase (<0.2%) in the consensus percentage. Allegations of data inconsistency are based on statistics unrelated to consensus. Running the same tests using appropriate consensus statistics shows no evidence of inconsistency. We confirm that the consensus is robust at 97±1%. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

News Article | June 23, 2016

In 2013, a team of citizen science volunteers who collaborate on the climate myth debunking website published a paper finding a 97% expert consensus on human-caused global warming in peer-reviewed research. Over the past 3 years, that paper has been downloaded more than 500,000 times. For perspective, that’s 4 times more than the second-most downloaded paper in the Institute of Physics journals (which includes Environmental Research Letters, where the 97% consensus paper was published). The statistic reveals a remarkable level of interest for a peer-reviewed scientific paper. Over a three-year period, the study has been downloaded an average of 440 times per day, and the pace has hardly slowed. Over the past year, the download rate has remained high, at 415 per day. The 97% study and other consensus research has been attacked and misrepresented, which led to a follow-up paper in which authors of seven previous climate consensus studies collaborated to settle the question once and for all. The two key conclusions from the paper were: 1) Depending on exactly how you measure the expert consensus, it’s somewhere between 90% and 100% that agree humans are responsible for climate change, with most of our studies finding 97% consensus among publishing climate scientists. 2) The greater the climate expertise among those surveyed, the higher the consensus on human-caused global warming. That follow-up paper, published two months ago, has already been downloaded 45,000 times. Interestingly, the 2013 consensus paper has returned to the top spot as currently the most-read paper in Environmental Research Letters, with the 2016 follow-up study coming in second. Those who want to preserve the status quo have continued to deny and attack the expert consensus because it’s a “gateway belief”: when people are aware of the high level of scientific agreement on human-caused global warming, they’re more likely to accept that climate change is happening, that humans are causing it, and support policies to reduce carbon pollution. As Republican strategist Frank Luntz said in an infamous memo leaked in 2003: Many contrarians have continued to follow this advice, and as a result, the public is still poorly misinformed about the magnitude of the expert consensus. Social scientists have coined the term “consensus gap” to describe the large discrepancy between the actual 97% consensus, and the public perception that just half to two-thirds of experts agree on human-caused global warming. The consensus gap is likely a result of a concerted decades-long misinformation campaign by the fossil fuel industry, and false balance in media climate coverage. However, since the publication of our 2013 paper, the consensus gap has modestly shrunk, and media coverage of the subject has become increasingly accurate. While only 11% of Americans realize the expert consensus is above 90%, the percentage who realize that global warming is happening and human-caused is on the rise over the past several years. The paper itself was not particularly novel. It was a follow-up to Naomi Oreskes’ 2004 study that similarly examined the expert consensus on human-caused global warming in the peer-reviewed literature. In her sample of 928 such papers, Oreskes was unable to find any that explicitly rejected human-caused global warming. Two subsequent papers published in 2009 and 2010 found a 97% expert consensus on the subject. Nevertheless, nearly a decade after Oreskes’ study, climate contrarians were claiming that a ‘growing number’ of scientists and papers were rejecting the expert consensus. “There is no consensus” has been the fourth-most popular myth in the Skeptical Science database. Our team decided it would be worthwhile to expand upon and update Oreskes’ study to test these claims. We found that instead of a growing denial, the percentage of peer-reviewed papers rejecting or minimizing the human role in global warming has declined over the past 20 years. In 2011, the last year we examined, 98% of papers endorsed the consensus. The good news is that there’s a remarkable amount of public interest in the expert consensus on human-caused global warming, and public awareness of the consensus has grown. However, with only 11% of Americans realizing that over 90% of experts agree on human-caused global warming, we still have a long way to go before the public becomes sufficiently aware of the magnitude of the consensus and urgency of the climate threat.

Cawley G.C.,University of East Anglia | Cowtan K.,University of York | Way R.G.,University of Ottawa | Jacobs P.,George Mason University | Jokimaki A.,Skeptical Science
Ecological Modelling | Year: 2015

In a recent issue of this journal, Loehle (2014) presents a "minimal model" for estimating climate sensitivity, identical to that previously published by Loehle and Scafetta (2011). The novelty in the more recent paper lies in the straightforward calculation of an estimate of transient climate response based on the model and an estimate of equilibrium climate sensitivity derived therefrom, via a flawed methodology. We demonstrate that the Loehle and Scafetta model systematically underestimates the transient climate response, due to a number of unsupportable assumptions regarding the climate system. Once the flaws in Loehle and Scafetta's model are addressed, the estimates of transient climate response and equilibrium climate sensitivity derived from the model are entirely consistent with those obtained from general circulation models, and indeed exclude the possibility of low climate sensitivity, directly contradicting the principal conclusion drawn by Loehle. Further, we present an even more parsimonious model for estimating climate sensitivity. Our model is based on observed changes in radiative forcings, and is therefore constrained by physics, unlike the Loehle model, which is little more than a curve-fitting exercise. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.

Richardson M.,University of Reading | Stolpe M.B.,ETH Zurich | Jacobs P.,George Mason University | Jokimaki A.,Skeptical Science | Cowtan K.,University of York
Quaternary International | Year: 2014

In a recent paper (Chen et al., 2013), fractional changes in temperature were correlated with fractional changes in anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide in order to estimate the amount of warming attributable to CO2 emissions. No justification was given for using the emissions rate rather than cumulative changes in atmospheric CO2 and the assumptions are not physically-based. This leads to counter-physical predictions, such as cases where increased heating causes the Earth to cool. Furthermore, a 10-year shift in start date alters the calculated elasticity by a factor of 2. A standard energy balance model is physically-based and outperforms the Chen et al. (2013) model, and its fitted transient climate response is consistent with changes in atmospheric CO2 causing warming equivalent to approximately 100% of the temperature change observed since 1960, consistent with formal attribution analyses. It is cautioned that purely statistical correlations are not able to demonstrate cause, and that they are particularly poor at attribution when there is no physical basis for the selection of variables and functional forms used in the correlation analysis. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.

News Article | September 2, 2016

Special thanks to Bob Wallace and Globi for leading this project/article. There are many questions about renewable energy and electric transport that people who haven’t been following these industries for years or decades often have, and there are also many recurring myths that many of us spend a lot of time addressing. A few commenters have proposed that what is needed is one central resource where people can find information that answers common questions about solar energy, wind energy, and electric vehicles; and that dissolves numerous cleantech myths. There are many topics to cover, and it’s probably best if they are answered by many people. Here’s how we’re thinking it might work: On this page, we’re listing many popular cleantech topics and answers to common myths (grouped under these 4 categories: 1) Solar + Wind + Other Renewables, 2) Solar Energy, 3) Wind Energy, 4) Electric Vehicles). If there are other topics you think we should add (of course there are), then list them in the comments section below. From time to time, we’ll rewrite this page and add new topics based on your proposals. For each topic, we’ll link to either 1) an existing CleanTechnica article that provides detailed answers/responses, or 2) a new document (in Google Docs) where we can crowdwrite (if others are interested) the article. Further down this page, there are all the same topics and links but also short answers for each of them. For any of the topic-specific pages, add any information you have or any suggested corrections in the comments section below this article (in the future, feedback forms will be included on each article). At some point, a new version will be created for many of these topics — a more accurate and complete version based on feedback and new information. If you’ve got other ideas/suggestions of how this system might work, let us know via the comments section below this page. Again, if you want to suggest new topics, please do so in the comments below. On to the content … and note that we don’t just allow you to copy & paste these responses when useful — we encourage you to do so! A healthy free-market democracy is built on correct and useful information being widely distributed. This first section is for one-liners linked to long articles or article drafts. For 1–2 paragraph statements on each matter (still with links to the longer pieces), scroll down further. Wind and solar electricity have become some of our least expensive ways to generate electricity (in several markets around the world). Wind is now the cheapest way to bring new electricity generation to the grid in the US as well as many other countries. Solar PV costs are rapidly dropping and solar is expected to join wind over the next few years. The levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) for solar actually beats all other sources of electricity other than wind. Furthermore, low-cost utility-scale solar is already beating out all other sources of electricity in some bidding processes, and home solar power beats the price of retail electricity (on average) in many markets. 2. Wind and solar power account for a large portion of new electricity generation capacity. In the US and elsewhere, low-priced and zero-emission solar and wind power plants are accounting for a large portion (sometimes the majority) of new power capacity additions. At the same time, coal power plants are being retired at a rapid rate. 3. Climate action is trillions of dollars cheaper than climate inaction. Investing in a clean energy economy is not cheap. It is projected to cost trillions of dollars. However, sticking with a dirty energy economy will cost society much more — many trillions of dollars more — than investing in a clean energy economy. If you actually care about costs, you should be pushing for us to make the transition quicker rather than slower. 4. We do not need baseload power, and inflexible baseload power is actually problematic. Massive renewable energy adoption and integration will rely on “load following,” not “baseload power.” In a renewable-dominated grid, inflexible baseload power gets in the way. What is actually needed is a varied system of solutions that match electricity demand with electricity supply. This includes demand response solutions, flexible electricity generation sources, a larger and more integrated transmission network, and some energy storage. It does not require an energy storage breakthrough or nuclear power. 5. Integration of renewable energy into the electricity grid is not a problem, and it’s cheaper than sticking with dirty energy sources. We can build a 24/365 reliable grid using either coal, gas, and nuclear; or with wind, solar, and other renewables. The techniques differ somewhat, but the real issue is cost. Renewables win in terms of both direct (generation) costs and external costs. Take a look at how a 100% renewable grid would operate and give us cheaper electricity. 6. There are many ways to get the majority of our electricity from renewable energy sources. According to an NREL study examining high renewable energy integration in the US, 80% of US electricity could be coming from renewables by 2050. Different regions would do best to rely on different resources. A large variety of renewable energy generation technologies combined with a good transmission network seems to be the most practical way to change to a renewable-dominated grid. 7. On the whole, comparing various electricity options based on a wide variety of factors, solar and wind are society’s best choice. Discussions of electrical generation technologies frequently fall into the trap of considering a single factor. One way this occurs is with advocates of a specific legacy technology pointing out a single downside of wind or solar generation as if it’s a gotcha. This is equally true of wind and solar advocates who point at single-factor issues with nuclear or coal, as examples, making the comparison to the more virtuous renewables. However, there is no single technology which will prevail on all grids in the future. There will be multiple generation technologies at any given time, the mix will change over time, and the specific mix will vary for specific geographies. In a multi-factorial assessment, though, solar and wind power come out with the highest score. It is cheaper to save fuel than to buy fuel (efficiency measures & renewables save fuel); renewables drive the development of new technologies, drive local investment, create local jobs, reduce wholesale electricity prices, reduce dependence on price-fluctuating fuels (insurance/hedge against high fuel prices), reduce trade deficits, reduce cash flow into dubious destabilizing/warmongering regimes, reduce pollution (reduce health costs), preserve nature and biodiversity (secure alimentation (more area for food production instead of fossil fuel/uranium mining), grow the tourism industry, etc.). Germany has grown its renewable power share by a factor of 5 and at the same time reached a record export surplus. Besides efficiency measures including electrification of the transportation and heat sectors, renewables are the best and fastest option to reduce CO2 emissions and thus to mitigate climate change. 10. A 70–100% renewable electricity grid is possible and even cost-competitive to build. Several studies examining the question in different ways have concluded that transforming electricity grids to 70–100% renewable energy is practical and could even save society money (without even taking externalities related to health and global warming into account). 11. It wouldn’t take a lot of land to get 40% of our electricity from solar panels. Article being drafted. (Chime in if you want to help out.) 12. Renewables are being installed not just because of subsidies. Article being drafted. (Chime in if you want to help out.) 13. Renewables are very easily and quickly scalable. (draft) Renewables can grow fast because they can be installed practically everywhere rapidly and simultaneously. Renewable capacity in the magnitude of 1 TW can in principle be added every year. Germany installed 3 GW of PV in one single month in December 2011. Germany has roughly 1% of the world’s population. So, if the entire world installs only 20% the amount of PV that Germany did 5 years ago, it would be at 720 GW per year. At a single utility-scale-PV plant, 120 MWp per month was installed. If only 10% of all cities worldwide installed utility-scale-solar at this scale at the same time, it would lead to approximately the same number just for utility-scale-solar (the world has 4,412 cities with a population of at least 150,000). In fact, if the world only installs one PV module per person per year, this already leads to 1,850 GW per year. As opposed to nuclear, which uses a scarce element even as fuel, renewables don’t depend on scarce elements. Over 90% of the PV market is silicon based, and silicon-based PV doesn’t depend on scarce elements. In fact, silicon is the second most common element in the earth’s crust. Even the cost of silver has little influence on manufacturing costs and, if necessary, silver can be replaced with more abundant metals such as copper. While some wind turbine manufacturers with direct drive turbines use permanent magnets containing rare earths, they don’t depend on it. For example, Enercon does build direct drive turbines without using any rare earths. According to the largest wind turbine manufacturer, Vestas: The contribution of rare earth elements used in the turbine generator magnets, and also in the magnets used in the tower, make a negligible contribution to total resource depletion, contributing below 0.1% of total life cycle impacts. Besides, rare earth metals are neither rare, nor earths, and permanent magnets can be made without using rare earths. 15. Renewable energy doesn’t get more in subsidies than fossil and nuclear sources have gotten, and continue to get. Fossil fuels and nuclear have received and are still receiving far more subsidies than renewables. In addition, they don’t pay for their externalized costs, which are massive forms of subsidy that society provides to fossil fuel and nuclear companies. There are so many useful articles on this topic that we didn’t choose to link just one. Here’s a list of articles to choose from: 16. The ERoEI of wind and solar is actually quite good. Article being drafted. (Chime in if you want to help out.) 17. We don’t need huge advances in energy storage to switch to renewable energy. The world already has large hydro storage and methane (power-to-gas) storage resources, and the electrification of the hot water, heating, and transportation sectors provides significant demand response flexibility. Besides, heat energy can be stored inexpensively and curtailing renewables is inexpensive and doesn’t even waste brake pads. Even if storage was entirely missing, it wouldn’t be needed until a high renewable electricity share is reached. According to VDE, Germany requires 7 TWh of storage at 80% renewable share. (And a 100% renewable share is only reasonable once the entire heating and hot water sector is electrified). For comparison: Tiny Switzerland already has 8.8 TWh of storage and Norway has even 84 TWh of storage. Germany has been trading electricity with Switzerland since 1958. 1. Solar panels aren’t free or even cheap, but they can still save you a ton of money. The question should not be about how much solar panels cost, but about how much solar power will save you. Many people think solar power is “expensive,” but that’s often only true if you look at half of the equation. In reality, solar power often saves homeowners tens of thousands of dollars. If you go solar with a straight purchase (no loan), you’re going to save the most money … but it will also be a longer period of time before you get your money back and start putting extra cash in your pocket. On the other hand, if you get a good (perhaps $0-down) solar loan, solar lease, or solar PPA, you can start saving money immediately or almost immediately. You just won’t save as much money down the road. Nonetheless, you can often still save tens of thousands of dollars (compared to buying all of your electricity from the grid and not producing any electricity yourself). Solar power prices are already low (see above) and are projected to get much lower in the coming decades simply through incremental improvements. The Bloomberg New Energy Finance solar analysis team projects that the cost of solar panels will fall from 62¢/watt at the end of 2015 to 21¢/watt in 2040 “by incremental improvements in crystalline silicon technology (thinner wafers, better-shaped busbars, better AR coating, more targeted doping, better contact technology).” No other option for electricity is projected to be competitive with solar by that time, and that is without any “breakthroughs” in solar technology. 3. Solar panels definitely don’t take more energy to manufacturer than they produce. Article being drafted. (Chime in if you want to help out.) 4. Solar works well far beyond deserts and sunny climates. Article being drafted. (Chime in if you want to help out.) Article being drafted. (Chime in if you want to help out.) 6. How practical/likely are cars that incorporate solar panels into the vehicle body? Article being drafted. (Chime in if you want to help out.) While wind turbines can’t produce electricity if the wind isn’t blowing, the electricity they produce is worth exactly as much as the electricity produced by any other type of power plant. When a wind turbine produces a kilowatt-hour of electricity, it’s fundamentally worth as much as a kilowatt-hour of electricity from nuclear power, coal power, solar power, or anything else. There is a slight externality from the variability of wind energy and its “integration costs,” but those are determined to be just 4 tenths of a cent per kWh (not even half a cent per kWh). For sure, this extra cost isn’t even worth mentioning compared to the health and environmental externalities that come from coal and natural gas power plants, or the economic risk that comes with nuclear power plants. Even at very high percentages of wind power (such as seen in Denmark, northern Germany, Scotland, Portugal, and Iowa), wind energy can be integrated into the grid without extra backup energy or costly investments. 2. Wind works well in many, many locations. Article being drafted. (Chime in if you want to help out.) Article being drafted. (Chime in if you want to help out.) In the meantime, here are some of the articles that will feed into the in-depth piece: Electric cars produce zero emissions themselves, but even if you don’t have solar panels and you get your electricity from the grid, driving an electric car results in fewer emissions than driving a gasmobile or conventional hybrid in almost every case. Electric cars themselves produce zero emissions when driven, but even if you factor in the emissions from electricity produced in your region that is utilized to power your electric car, it’s extremely likely your electric car is cleaner than a Toyota Prius. Furthermore, these emissions are not “local” — they’re likely not occurring in your neighborhood, in your town, or in your city. Of course, if you have solar panels on your roof that produce as much electricity as you use, you are essentially driving on sunshine and producing no emissions from any source when you drive. It’s also important to remember that the grid is getting cleaner every day, so electric cars charged from the grid will just keep getting cleaner and cleaner. 2. How much land would it take to produce enough electricity to power EVs (powering all of them with wind energy)? In actuality, not a lot of land area is needed for the extra electricity generation that would be required if all of our cars were EVs. And that doesn’t even account for the land you would regain from oil/gas-related activities. Norway is a Scandinavian country with more than its fair share of cold weather, yet it is far ahead of any other nation in electric car adoption. 24% of new car registrations were electric car registrations in the first half of 2016 in Norway, while no other country has reached 3% market share. Norway’s electric car market share has been steadily growing for years. Of course, electric cars work fine in Norway’s cold climate and in other cold climates as well. Few grids are dominated by coal electricity at this point, and coal is on the downtrend in markets around the world. Coal has seen a monumental collapse in the USA, and now accounts for only 28% of electricity production. 0% of new electricity capacity in the USA in the first half of 2016 came from coal, while electricity production from the polluting energy source dropped by 15 GWh. In 2015 as well, 0% of new US electricity capacity came from coal. Aside from grid electricity, many electric car drivers decide to go solar. 6. Even with current electric cars, 87% of vehicles on the road today could be replaced by a low-cost electric car even if there is no possibility of recharging it during the day. A study by MIT and the Santa Fe Institute published in the journal Nature Energy on August 15 found that electric car range anxiety is overstated in most cases. The study analyzed the driving habits of drivers on a second-by-second basis. It concluded that 87% of vehicles on the road today could be replaced by a low-cost electric car even if there is no possibility of recharging it during the day. 7. Electric cars often actually save owners a great deal of time. Among current EV drivers, the vast majority of charging is done at home or work. In such places, it takes a few seconds to plug in the car and a few seconds to unplug it. In actuality, it is often easy to leave with a “full tank” (full battery) most of the time. Drivers no longer have to find gas stations on or near their travel routes, don’t have to spend time getting off the road and into the gas station, don’t have to get out and pump gas, don’t have to go inside or pull out their credit card and pay for gasoline, and don’t have to take their cars in for oil changes & smog checks. In the end, this saves them a lot of time, even if you take into account the times when they have to charge in public (during which they can often eat, play, or engage in other useful activities). For climate topics, we highly recommend this Skeptical Science page. However, we are dealing with some of the common claims repeatedly as well and may also create a list for these topics.   Drive an electric car? Complete one of our short surveys for our next electric car report.   Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.  

News Article | September 6, 2016

On a recent article about California’s carbon reduction progress, Kurt Lowder dropped the comment, “I am surprised that I have not read much about how California will benefit economically for switching to EVs.” Although I’m fond of using the following chart when writing or presenting about the benefits of electric vehicles, this comment made me realize that we’ve never written a deep dive (or even a shallow dive) on the economic benefits of EVs. So, here we are — below is an initial look at how electric transport could considerably boost certain economies — especially Europe and the USA. If anyone wants to take the idea further with California, Florida, the UK, Australia, or other locations, I’d love to see the results. Notably, if certain economies are benefiting from a switch to electrification (away from oil-based fuels), that means others are losing out. Oil-rich countries and billionaire oil barons are the most obvious parties that will have a tough time adjusting, but there will also be ramifications in many other sectors of society, as oil company investors lose cash, oil industry workers lose their jobs, etc. That said, it seems extremely likely that the net effect will be broader distribution of wealth — which I count as a good thing. Starting with Europe, since that’s the focus of the chart above, you can see that at one point Europe was exporting approximately €1 billion of cash each day in return for oil. With oil prices falling, among other things, the daily price tag has apparently dropped to ~€525 million a day for the European Union (including the UK). That’s still nothing to scoff at. That comes to ~€200 billion per year. It’s approximately 1–1.5% of European Union GDP. EU consumers wouldn’t simply save €525 million of cash each day if they switched over to electric transport — they will have to pay for the electricity to power their electric cars, buses, scooters, bikes, etc. However, the thing about electricity is that it’s generated locally or regionally — it can even be generated on the roof of your home (via solar panels, of course). So, rather than sending €525 million each day to Saudi Arabia, Russia, Nigeria, the UAE, Canada, Iraq, Angola, Libya, etc., consumers would theoretically send cash to national or regional utilities, regional power plant owners, community solar and wind farms, or just their kids’ savings accounts. The total wouldn’t come to €525 million, though, since electric drivetrains are approximately 3–4 times more efficient than gasoline engines. Of course, it’s hard to have a strong clue as to how transport patterns will change, which electric cars will dominate, how much electricity will cost, etc., but we can be pretty certain we will be saving money on transport once we switch 100% to electrification. Michael Liebreich and Angus McCrone noted in a recent article that 7% of tax revenue comes from gasoline (petrol) and diesel taxes in Europe. Naturally, governments will need to find ways to get tax revenue from other sources to replace that revenue, but this matter is just about taxpayer money going to the government to go back to taxpayers via various services and infrastructure, so it’s not about net societal gains/losses from electrification. Of course, Europe also exports oil. The thought experiment above assumes that Europe leads the way in adoption of electric vehicles and is still able to export oil. As the whole world switches to electric transport and Europe’s exports lose out in the global oil market, you have to subtract the lost export revenue from the €525 million a day noted above. However, if Europe moves to EVs more quickly than others, it could theoretically export more oil than it is exporting now, which would boost revenue for a while, pushing the net benefit above €525 million a day. Either way, as it stands right now, Europe imports a lot more oil than it exports, so a global shift to electrification in which Europe was average would be a net benefit for the region. Beyond cutting €525 million a day in imports, there are many more economic benefits that I will discuss further down the article, after introducing the US situation. Don’t assume that’s the end of the story! In the USA, we import ~9,401,000 barrels of oil a day (compared to ~629,000 barrels a day in exports). Those 9.4 million barrels a day come to an import tab of approximately $425 million/day. That’s approximately $155 billion a year. In other words, we are in a similar boat as the EU. The countries we’re importing the most oil from (based on 2015 oil imports) are Canada, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Mexico, Colombia, Russia, Ecuador, Iraq, Brazil, and Kuwait. Much of that money isn’t going to make it back into the US economy in any way, shape, or form. $155 billion a year comes to nearly 1% of US GDP. That’s approximately 5 times more than Obama’s US Department of Energy FY2016 budget — $30 billion. It’s approximately 19 times more than the US EPA’s 2015 budget — $8.1 billion. Of course, the EPA’s budget could also be reduced substantially thanks to much less pollution from transportation, and that leads me into the final section. Oil imports are only one chapter of the story. The fact is, we spend or lose an insane amount of money, time, productivity, and quality of life from burning oil-based fuels. All of this strikes into our economy and extracts money or comfort, pleasure, and time that we can try to quantify. Here are some points related to that: Image by Skeptical Science. Data sources: German Institute for Economic Research and Watkiss et al. 2005 The health costs, the climate catastrophe costs, and the national security costs can all be cut by switching to electric transport (and cut further by switching to clean electricity production), and that could provide a great economic boon to the USA, Europe, and basically every country in the world. The amount of money we spend importing oil is alone enough to compel a societal shift to electric transport, but the economic benefits related to health, climate stability, and national security make electrification of transport one of the most obvious solutions we should be pursuing at the quickest pace possible.   Drive an electric car? Complete one of our short surveys for our next electric car report.   Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.  

News Article | April 21, 2010

Along with the ash and lava, there have been many interesting asides tossed into the air for our consideration by the Eyjafjallajokull volcano. We have noticed just how reliant our globalised systems are on air travel. We have been reminded of nature's brute force and primordial beauty. And we have been intrigued by what a wonderfully complex language Icelandic appears to be – to Anglo-Saxon ears, at least. But one opportunity the volcano has gifted us in particular is the chance to put to bed once and for all that barrel-aged climate sceptic canard which maintains that volcanoes emit far more carbon dioxide than anthropogenic sources. It's always been a favourite, but has been pushed even further up the charts of popularity in recent months by the repeated claims of Ian Plimer, the Australian mining geologist who wrote the climate sceptic bible Heaven and Earth last year. Here, for example, is what Plimer wrote on Australia's ABC Network website last August: John Cook of the increasingly popular Skeptical Science website currently lists the "volcanoes emit more CO2 than humans" viewpoint as number 54 on his ever-growing list - 107, to date - of debunked sceptic arguments. It was also a point picked up by my colleague James Randerson when he interviewed Plimer last December. In Heaven and Earth, Plimer says: "Volcanoes produce more CO2 than the world's cars and industries combined." Randerson challenged Plimer on this point, stating that the US Geological Survey (USGS) states: "Human activities release more than 130 times the amount of CO2 emitted by volcanoes." Plimer responded by saying that this does not account for undersea eruptions. However, when Randerson checked this point with USGS volcanologist Dr Terrence Gerlach, he received this reply: Despite having seemingly lanced this festering boil for good, the focus on Eyjafjallajokull over the past week has allowed this question to bubble back up to the forefront of people's minds. It was enough to trigger the Paris-based AFP news agency to seek some answers: So, please, can we now put this hoary old chestnut to bed? One extra volcano-related aside: with European carbon market prices fluctuating around the €14 per tonne mark at present, this would mean that Eyjafjallajokull would theoretically be liable to a maximum daily bill of €4.2m if it were a fully fledged, carbon-trading nation or corporation. But who would dare get close enough to present it with an invoice?

News Article | December 8, 2016

Originally published on Think Progress. By Joe Romm Given the result of the presidential election, a lot of people have been asking me: “What can I do?” I have a feeling many of you reading this are still going through the famous five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Maybe all at once. After a lot of listening and reading, here’s my take: Activism is the sixth stage of grief. Major environmental groups are reporting “exponential increases” in post-election activism and support. If you are not part of this movement, it is time to join. President-elect Donald Trump and his den of deniers pose an existential threat to America, the world, and, sadly, the next 50 generations. Whatever warming, sea level rise, ocean acidification, and Dust-Bowlification that we commit to because of his anti-science, pro-pollution policies will be irreversible on a timescale of a thousand years. I also agree with those who argue Trump is an existential threat to American democracy and the core values that make it possible, such as pluralism and freedom of the press. If you agree, that is yet more motivation to act. This list naturally has a climate focus, and it is not exhaustive, but here goes: 1. Activism, activism, activism. The Sierra Club “reported signing up more new members in the eight days after the election than the whole rest of the year,” according to Politico. The Natural Resources Defense Council has seen “exponential increases” in online action and donations. The Environmental Defense Fund has seen a post-election jump in support, with EDF’s Sam Perry saying, “Apparently the sixth stage of grief is activism.” If you like your activism very active, consider joining 2. Support the Trump Investigative fund. Help us hold Trump accountable by supporting ThinkProgress and Climate Progress. If you’re reading this, you already see value in the work we do here. We need your help to do more. We launched this effort a week ago and are now more than half way to our $100,000 goal. As ThinkProgress Editor-In-Chief Judd Legum explained, “We need your support for Freedom of Information Act requests, deep-dive investigations, and rapid-fire reporting that ensures Trump’s vision for America is not normalized.” If you donate $40, we’ll send you the “Resist” T-shirt featured above. 3. Figure out what you are fighting for. The forces lined up against progressive values are overwhelming — especially when you toss Putin’s hacking and disinformation team on the scale. Progressives won’t win — and you won’t stay motivated for the many battles ahead — if you can’t figure out exactly what you are fighting for. Recent setbacks certainly make it easy to become disillusioned and lose one’s ideals. But remember, team Trump and his allies have no illusions and no ideals to lose. Worse, they spread lies and fakes news and suppress million of votes specifically to get us to quit fighting. Always remember, however, who got the most votes by far despite all this. As Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) put it, “The American people didn’t give Democrats majority support so we could come back to Washington and play dead.” 4. Find your message, learn how to deliver it, and then keep repeating it. Conservatives are much better at developing a winning narrative and repeating it endlessly than progressives. A must-hear podcast on that, “How Trump Won the Election by Using Core Narrative Techniques,” features an interview with Randy Olson. You should read his book, “Houston, We Have a Narrative” and mine. If you’re wondering what the winning climate message is, “Here’s What Science Has To Say About Convincing People To Do Something About Climate Change.” And always remember the words of Frank Luntz, the GOP’s top messaging strategist: “There’s a simple rule: You say it again, and you say it again, and you say it again, and you say it again, and you say it again, and then again and again and again and again, and about the time that you’re absolutely sick of saying it is about the time that your target audience has heard it for the first time.” 5. End climate silence. Talk about climate change and its solutions with everyone you know a lot more than you are doing now. The need to have more conversations about an uncomfortable subject is, I believe, one of two crucial messaging lessons the climate movement can learn from the LGBT community (the other is to focus on the immorality of inaction). While two thirds of Americans are moderately or very interested in global warming,” research finds an even larger fraction “rarely or never discuss” it with family or friends. The result is a “spiral of silence” in which “even people who care about the issue shy away from discussing it because they so infrequently hear other people talking about it — reinforcing the spiral,” researchers said. You can break that spiral. 6. Only support politicians who actively campaign on climate. Given the setback of the Trump election, our only chance to save a livable climate is to elect leaders in 2018, 2020, and beyond who make climate action their priority. Also, politicians who actually campaign on climate change are another key to ending climate silence. The polling could not be clearer that this is a winning issue for progressive candidates — inspiring key voting groups (like millennials) while serving as a wedge between the extreme GOP voters and moderate GOPers and independents. 7. Don’t debunk Trump’s lies by repeating them and don’t read news outlets that do. Repeating lies and myths — even to debunk them — simply ends up reinforcing them, as countless studies have shown. If you want to debunk a lie, you should focus on stating the truth, not repeating the lie. For more tips, see Skeptical Science’s “Debunking Handbook.” As for the major media, they have no idea how to cover Trump. They blew the election and are now blowing the transition. Besides reading ThinkProgress, I recommend you follow James Fallows at The Atlantic, author of such recent must reads as “How to Deal With the Lies of Donald Trump: Guidelines for the Media” and “A More Detailed Guide to Dealing With Trump’s Lies.” 8. Change your TV viewing habits. Stop watching cable news. The net useful information per hour spent watching is probably negative (so the opportunity cost is off the charts). Half the people on it spread misinformation for a living, and much of the other half do so unintentionally. Also, if you are one of those who don’t watch popular TV and reality shows, it’s time to start. How else can you hope to understand and ultimately move the American people? It was, after all, reality TV that gave us Trump and helped him master the art of entertaining reality-free BS. And pick some things Trump voters watch — not Clinton voters (sorry “Madame Secretary”). I’d suggest “NCIS” and “The Walking Dead.” They are popular shows for a reason AND “Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner says the campaign’s marketing team specifically focused on running ads” during both of them!! As you watch, consider who the zombie horde is a stand in for many Trump voters…. 9. Never give in. “Never give in. Never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” — Winston Churchill If you are still overstressed from the election, your top priority should be to take care of yourself, eat healthy, and get plenty of rest. But if you are reading this, you’re probably in a fairly comfortable position compared to the vast majority of people who will suffer the most because of Trump now and in the future. So get out of your comfort zone and get active. Resist! Buy a cool T-shirt or mug in the CleanTechnica store!   Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech daily newsletter or weekly newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.

News Article | February 2, 2017

We know the climate is changing, the Earth is warming, and humans are the cause. As a scientist who studies this daily, I know the evidence is compelling and mutually reinforcing. In fact, the evidence is so compelling that it’s almost impossible to find scientists who disagree. We also know that it’s possible to solve this problem using today’s technology. We don’t need to wait for fairy dust or cold fusion. Using energy more wisely, increasing renewable energy, modernizing nuclear power, and other actions are all things we can do right now to make the future better. But we also know that there are many groups and companies that are trying to stop meaningful action on climate change. Sure, many are fossil fuel companies that want to continue to sell their product. Others are ideological groups and people that for various reasons reject the compelling science. They cannot bring themselves to understand the facts because it conflicts with their belief system. These groups and people spread misinformation and purposely try to muddy the waters by creating a “fake news” environment of sorts. For the rest of us who are interested in making this world better but not experts on climate change, it’s a real challenge to separate the science from the baloney. Not only do you have to know the science, but you may have to communicate it in a very concise situation. We scientists are trained to bloviate, not to persuade. Fortunately, there is help. For anyone who wants easy to access, short elevator-speech responses to the most common questions and myths about climate change, a new resource is available. Interestingly, it was authored not by a climate scientist but by a citizen scientist. I’ve read the text and can vouch for its scientific accuracy. The book is entitled Twenty-eight Climate Change Elevator Pitches written by Rob Honeycutt - a contributor to Skeptical Science. This book covers topics typically in 2-3 pages. Really short, really concise, always on point. Rob uses analogies to help describe climate science in ways that the rest of us can relate. He includes both basic science chapters as well as myth debunking. For instance, he relates geological climate change to a boxing match The basic science topics he covers include titles such as “Ancient Sunlight”, “Radiative Gases”, and “The Climate System”. He also includes 2-3 page discussions on temperature measurements, ocean warming and sea level rise, acidification, ice, past climate change, tipping points, and more. Included with each chapter are rich and engaging graphics. Why do I like this book so much? Well, part of it is that the discussions are short and punchy. They really are elevator speeches. They don’t get bogged down in too much detail. Crucially, his science is correct. Rob finds a way to identify what are the essential things people need to know and focuses on those items. I also like that this book is simultaneously a warning but also optimistic. He is correct that climate change is a serious problem that we need to face. But, he is also right on in recognizing that there are solutions to this problem that can be implemented immediately. Furthermore, as Rob writes, ignoring the problem will be more injurious than facing it head on. I asked Rob why he decided to write this book and he responded: The book is available on the iBooks store and through Blurb.

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