Monday, May 30, 2011

Another Threat to Renewable Energy

The world is poised on the brink of  a "cheap gas" era that may undermine the viability of renewable energy options.   Not gas as in gasoline but as in natural gas, shale gas released by fracking.

"More gas [power plants] than wind and solar will be built [in the 10 to 20 years]," said Steve Bolze, chief executive of General Electric's  power and water division, which makes gas-fired turbines. "Gas is a good alternative to being 100% renewable."

...The International Energy Agency has predicted that if the anticipated   "dash for gas " goes ahead, the world will be far adrift of its greenhouse gas emissions targets. Laszlo Varro, head of gas, coal and power markets at the IEA, said:  "We have said repeatedly that on our current trajectory we will miss these targets ."

The gas industry is banking on a "cleaner than coal" argument to win over government resistance - if there is any.  This is another enormous hurdle in the path of alternative energy initiatives.  It reinforces the necessity of strict carbon taxes - the very idea embodied in Stephane Dion's "Green Shift" proposal - to curb fossil fuel consumption.  Of course our new leader of the official opposition was more than happy to trash Dion over carbon taxes and with Layton in the lap of a Petro-Pol prime minister, Canada's not going anywhere on carbon emissions.


Anonymous said...

Harper fully supports, the Alberta dirty tar sands.

The dirty tar sands are an abomination,the dirtiest energy source on the face of this earth. Harper is indeed, going to force the Enbridge pipeline and the dirty Chinese oil tankers, on the province of BC. China bought a huge chunk of the dirty tar sands. Harper and Campbell have very close ties with China.

The carbon tax!!!What a farce. Campbell forces the asinine carbon tax on the people, all the while, he is busy signing in favor of, the dirty oil tankers and the Enbridge pipeline.

Harper gives giant oil and gas corporations, millions of our tax dollars. He also gives them, huge tax reductions. I saw that exact motion pass, while watching, the House of Commons TV channel.

Canada has produced the worst crop of politicians, in all of our recorded history. This country needs a deep purge to get rid of, the rotten, greedy and corrupt governing officials.

Harper made a total a$$ of himself in Copenhagen, and embarrassed the Canadian people

Canada has become, a vast cesspool of corruption.

The Mound of Sound said...

Carbon taxation is hardly a farce. The specific way it has been implemented by the BC government isn't confidence-building but, then again, it was never more than a gesture anyway.

Why do you think ordinary citizens should be exempt from carbon taxes? Governments can employ rebates to offset harm to the most vulnerable while still retaining the tax impact for excessive energy use. When I see 60 foot yachts blasting their way up the Georgia Strait I sometimes wonder how many of those we'd see if they had to foot a carbon tax bill.

The merits of carbon taxation are obvious. Wouldn't you sooner pay carbon taxes if you knew it would be offset by reduced income taxes?

Home Inspector Training said...

Yes, of course the climate has changed in the past and each change has had specific causes. What is evident now, is the the current period of warming is being caused by human activity, primarily the burning of fossil fuels and that it will continue to get worse if we carry on the way we are. Unfortunately, some people will always deny warning signs, which is why human history is full of the misery of war, famine and collapsed civilizations.

Home Inspector Expert said...

From all that I have read, a 2 degree C rise would make most of the planet too hot to support agriculture, and it was chosen several years ago, before the full impacts were understood, as a reasonable attainable level. IIRC, 2 degrees C correlates to 450 ppm.
Here are some of the problems:
We (planet) are already at or have just passed the carrying capacity based on arable land and fossil fuels. This means disruptions in the weather or in fuel/fertilizer will send significant populations into famine. With last year’s wheat harvest destructions in Australia and Russia, and this year’s disaster, which is still unfolding, in the American Midwest, more people will face food insecurity this year.
Dmitry Orlov characterized excess deaths (mortality above the average rates for a cohort): Unless you work in a morgue, you don’t see it as it happens, but one year you go to a class reunion and you realize many of your classmates are gone.
So, we might not even see the excess deaths until several years after the fact just as we could not see peak oil when it occurred in 2005, but only the effect on the economy/housing market/debt system in 2008.
All this from just one half a degree (F) warming.
There is the problem of cascading effects. When one system breaks, the ones dependent on it may also break. We do not know how many instances of death via starvation this will cause.
At some point, the non-linear effects will kick in. Take sea level rise. When the wet process of glacier disintegration accelerates, then this previously unstipulated cause of sea level rise (because scientists do not know how to quantify it, they do not include it in their calculations) becomes a major factor. Hundreds millions more displaced onto non-arable land.
It just gets worsened and worsened.
So, all the dismal projections are based on linear effects, but the larger non-linear effects are not figured in because we do not know how to do so.