Jeebus Polly!

The idea is to make us all stop and think. For example, we commentators on politics and society need to ask ourselves what’s wrong with us? Why is it that we mostly ignore this fast-approaching cataclysm, as we write about daily political dramas instead – Theresa May’s Brexit speech in Davos today, Jeremy Corbyn’s failed joke at PMQs yesterday, Boris Johnson comparing the potential behaviour of the French president to that of a Nazi prison camp guard.

The trouble with climate change as a political issue is that it’s too big to grasp, too ever-present. An occasional fixed point of global decision – the dramatic last-minute signing of the Paris climate change deal – briefly flashes up on the political grid, but once over, it falls back as if done and dusted. The planet is heating up fast – but not fast enough for the hungry 24-hour news cycle.

We already do too much about climate change. We’ve got solar down to cost comparison with coal, that’s the basic one thing that we needed to do. We’ve thus knocked the world off the RCP 8.5, or A1FI track. We’re onto something much more like A1T, or RCP 2 pointwhateveritis. And we’re done.

Haven’t you been paying attention?

34 comments on “Jeebus Polly!

  1. No one much gives a rat’s arse about lying Marxian eco-wank.

    We should be concerned with approaching leftist-created ECOnomic disaster –which there is plenty of potential for. And which the leftist scum who created it will blame on the market.

  2. They see climate change as an excuse for world socialism and ‘equality’. They have no interest in actually solving it or discovering that it is not a problem, as that would be the end of their agenda. Surely Tim, you didn’t expect these ideologues to follow the evidence.

  3. “Haven’t you been paying attention?”

    No, she hasn’t. Like many of her ilk, she sees mostly the narrative in her head and conflates it with reality.

  4. The planet is heating up fast – but not fast enough for the hungry 24-hour news cycle.

    The planet is not heating. That would be fake news. And in other news that might well be described as fixed points of global decision:

    1. The Scots are staying in,
    2. The British are leaving,
    3. Trump will be sworn in and
    4. Hillary Clinton will never be President of the United States.

    So I think the shorter version is that while I would like to be gentlemanly, at the moment I am more inclined to suggest Ms Toynbee manipulate my genital area with her vestibule and oral cavity proper.

    In a purely figurative sense of course. One may not be as gentlemanly as one would wish but one still needs to maintain a certain standard.

  5. Tim,
    Solar was cost-competitive with coal *in the right circumstances* a dozen years ago – that’s not enough. What is needed is for China to stop burning coal. Anything we do on this little island or you do in your modestly bigger peninsula is virtually irrelevant.
    China consumes a little less than one-quarter of the world’s *recorded* energy but 48% of the coal. 345 times as much as the UK (Portugal’s coal use is too small to be reported separately) and has increased its coal consumption in the last decade by 90-odd times as much as the UK currently uses.
    So if Polly is worried about climate change she needs to learn to write columns in Mandarin.,

  6. My numbers may (or may not) be wrong – a different table gives different figures suggesting that the growth in China’s coal consumption in the last decade is only twenty-odd times the UK’s current consumption and that we consume nearly one-sixtieth of the amount they do.
    That doesn’t alter my point – the only way to stop global warming is for China to reduce its coal-burning.. ;

  7. About a third of the land mass on this planet is too feckin cold to live on, a bit of global warming would make the place more inhabitable not less.
    The Chinese should burn less coal because it makes the quality of the air unfit for human consumption, not because the CO2 released might warm the globe.

    CO2 is released as the planet warms (by other means) and is absorbed as the planet cools, it is a trailing indicator not a leading one.

    Vostock Ice Core Data
    According to Barnola et al. (1991) and Petit et al. (1999) these measurements indicate that, at the beginning of the deglaciations, the CO2 increase either was in phase or lagged by less than ~1000 years with respect to the Antarctic temperature, whereas it clearly lagged behind the temperature at the onset of the glaciations.

  8. Xi Jingping in Davos telling everyone how we need to combat global warming while in Beijing people can’t see across the road for smog. Then goes on about being a champion of free trade while running one of the most protectionist economies in the world.

    You almost have to admire his sheer balls.

  9. john77
    January 20, 2017 at 10:24 am

    Solar was cost-competitive with coal *in the right circumstances* a dozen years ago – that’s not enough. What is needed is for China to stop burning coal.

    That was the claim, at the time. Unfortunately, it was nonsense.

    I also don’t believe solar – once all costs are included, is at parity with coal-fired generation now. If it really is, we would have to assume that China – the world’s largest producer of solar panels – is deliberately spending more on electricity generation than it needs to just so it can carry on producing smogs in its major cities.

    This seems unlikely.

    If Tim is right, though, we are, as he says, done.

  10. Jack,

    China actually has the world’s largest installed capacity of solar power, and it’s growing fast. But even if they wanted to switch to all-solar, they simply aren’t making solar panels fast enough. Mind you if they thought it was worthwhile, they’d be ramping up capacity a lot faster than they are.

    Financing is tricky too: for solar, you pay up front and recuperate the money over some 30 years; whereas coal is more pay-as-you-burn.

  11. @ Jack Hughes
    Off-grid in the tropics. I chose my words carefully.

    In California, roof-top solar was cheaper for the householder than buying electricity from the local utility whose prices included (i) generation cost (ii) profit margin thereon, (iii) transmission cost on high-voltage lines from, usually, Colorado (iv) profit margin on the sum of (i), (ii) and (iii), (v) cost of conversion to low-voltage and distribution to householder and (vi) profit margin on the sum of (i) to (v).

    China does not rely on solar for baseload generation because solar output is highly variable, dropping to zero every night. It isn’t just cost, it’s reliability.

  12. john77

    China does not rely on solar for baseload generation because solar output is highly variable, dropping to zero every night. It isn’t just cost, it’s reliability.

    Indeed so. And the costs of storage or back-up generation ought to be included in the cost of solar, but never is.

    Hence, it isn’t even remotely competitive (IMHO).

  13. It doesn’t matter how cheap solar (PV) becomes, it still consumes more energy in its manufacture than it will generate during its working lifetime at temperate latitudes – EROEI is about 0.83, whereas for conventional oil it’s around 7. So in Dubai or Arizona it can help reduce total CO2 emissions; in the UK or Germany, not so much.

  14. The planet is heating up fast – but not fast enough for the hungry 24-hour news cycle.

    Tell that to the Russian icebreakers!

  15. @ Jack Hughes
    It just needs the brainpower of two rabbits to see uses where neither storage nor back-up is needed and others where so little is needed that solar *is* actually competitive with coal.
    All office, factory and school air-conditioning should be solar-powered by on-site panels.
    We have a “lido” (outdoor heated swim,ming pool) in our town which is only used in summer and overwhelmingly on hoy sunny days so its power needs 90+% conicide with peak solar PV outputs.
    Farmer’s irrigation systems, especially in the third world, are most needed on sunny summer days.
    Hotels in “holiday destinations”, apart from ski resorts, have peak demand in summer so solar PV will minimise the variability of their drawdown from the grid – in fact the rest of those “holiday destinations” also see peak electricity demand in summer so that could reduce the country’s need for standby back-up generators.
    The Dutch use their windmills for non-time-sensitive intermittent jobs like pumping water out of polders. There are plenty of such tasks.
    There are also tasks for which the cost of storage is lower than the cost of connecting to the grid.

  16. @ Chris Miller
    Is that why Ed Miliband wanted to hand out such huge subsidies to those installing roof-top solar panels?
    But I had been told that EROEI was above 1 in England. It is just that the only economic use of unsubsidised solar power in the UK is solar water heating panels and stuff where the cost of connecting to the grid is greater than that of buying a stand-alone unit (e.g. these “garden lights”).

  17. @john77

    And, as I say, if they are competitive in those situations (which they may be) then they will be used in those situations.

    For the production of wholesale grid electricity, though, they won’t be, as they solar & wind remain uncompetitive and are only ever installed with a subsidy, usually several, many of them hidden.

  18. “We’ve got solar down to cost comparison with coal, that’s the basic one thing that we needed to do. ”

    I connect to the grid and my first kWh costs 10p.

    I install solar and my first kWh costs £10 000.

    After 100 000 kWh my electricity will still not be ‘free’ because I shall still have to buy from the grid when the solar is unable to capture enough solar energy for most of the time I need electricity.

    And nothing like comparing apples and oranges to get the answer, pears: Capital cost may not be compared with consumption cost.

    The problem with solar is not the economics but the physics – it is a problem of solar energy capture and storage.

    And Oh look… the problem of solar energy capture and storage has long been solve – coal.

  19. j77,

    > the only economic use of unsubsidised solar power in the UK is solar water heating panels

    Even that I’d question. The installation costs alone are significant; I hate to think what the maintenance costs must be; or the failure rates if there are several days of below-freezing temperatures. I note that we don’t see it much on commercial buildings in this country, even though they would benefit most from economies of scale.

  20. ‘All office, factory and school air-conditioning should be solar-powered by on-site panels.’

    Releasing your inner Pol Pot?

  21. @ Andrew M
    I used to read an engineering-oriented blog site: guy In Harlow had built and installed his own for a couple of £hundred.
    Maintenance costs and failure rates are zilch – I’ve had one for nearly twenty years, with five-yearly visits to check it it’s OK – just one bit of repair needed in all that time.

  22. @ Jack Hughes
    Sadly the answer is not that they *will* be used but that they *should* be used. Where they *are* used is more often down to politics than engineering.

    For the production of wholesale grid electricity their unreliability means that they need close to 100% back-up capability from reliable sources (except when partnering solar power with pumped storage schemes – we have three, just three, of those in the UK).

  23. ‘No, just elementary commonsense, matching supply to demand.’

    Nonsense. The cost of the land alone makes it impractical.

  24. It’s always fun, in a rather aggravating way, to see a scientific analphabet like Toynbee preaching to the equally innumerate Leftists that comprise the bulk of her readership. Sadly, scientific edification has seldom come about as the result of mutual masturbation.

  25. “Farmer’s irrigation systems, especially in the third world, are most needed on sunny summer days” That’s odd: in our garden it works out better to irrigate overnight in hot summer weather.

  26. @ Gamecock
    The cost of the land is the same whether or not the building’s roof and three walls are covered with solar PV panels.
    And since when did the building cost matter much to office developers?

  27. @ dearieme
    Dripfeed into irrigation channels not using a watering can over plants that can thereby get leafburn.

  28. We must have a lot bigger schools, John77.

    But since you can’t run a house on PV solar, what makes you think you could run something as big as a school? I’m telling you, you will need to clear many acres around the school for you PV solar, then it still can’t do the job. It is, and will always be, at best supplemental.

  29. @ Gamecock
    I did *not* say that we must the school by solar PV panels – I said they should power the *air-conditioning* with solar PV panels which will produce most power when the air conditioning demands most power..
    So you are making what would be a valid argument against something that I never said.

  30. @ Gamecock
    (i) Solar PV still works, to a reduced extent on cloudy days as some sunlight gets through the clouds
    (ii) On a cloudy day there is less need for air conditioning because it isn’t as hot.
    The sunlight that makes it hot is the same as the sunlight that is converted into electricity by the solar PV cells.

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