Happy Newtonmas!

When knowledge conquered fear …

And, what better way to celebrate than watching the National Geographic Cosmos episode, When knowledge conquered fear, hosted by the great Dr Neil deGrasse Tyson, Director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City.

NCAR reports on a teleconnection between the Pacific and continental USA

The National Center for Atmospheric Research (“NCAR”) reports on a newly substantiated teleconnection between positive sea surface temperature anomalies (“SSTA”) in the Pacific and the temperatures over the continental United States (“CONUS”) 50 days later. A teleconnection is:

A linkage between weather changes occurring in widely separated regions of the globe.

as defined by the American Meteorological Society (of which I am a member).

The basic evidence (but see the NCAR post is in the following figure:

(Click on image to see larger figure, and use browser Back Button to return to blog.)

So, let’s see. The Pacific area SSTAs now look like:

(Click on image to see larger figure, and use browser Back Button to return to blog.)

That’s modest warming. The teleconnection predicts that will influence temperatures in CONUS in the second week of February, 2017.

By the way, SSTAs near the East Coast of the U.S. now look like:

(Click on image to see larger figure, and use browser Back Button to return to blog.)

Those are hot. And you’ll note that large dark blue blob at the top right … A cold Arctic outflow. That stops the Gulf Stream flow northwards, slows it down, and piles the waters up against the Northeast, contributing to sea level rise there.

Climate Potpourri: Flooding and Solar (both from Ars)

And they who will not be ready, will suffer the economic consequences.

Ready for flooding: Boston analyzes how to tackle climate change

(That water is a foot deep, previously reported in a post here. Click on image to see larger picture, and use your browser Back Button to return to this blog.)

Solar is top source of new capacity on the US grid in 2016

Both articles from the great Ars Technica.

Sleeping Giant Awakening

Damn straight.

Update, 2016-12-18

Update, 2016-12-24

An interesting discussion of what a Trump administration could and could not do to repositories of climate data. The possibility of this kind of thing, and retaining control of data provenance and the sequence of transactions done to data is a reason why different flavors of trusted timestamping might be a good idea for all these sources, including blockchain techniques. It’s not clear if the courts and legal systems are up to trusting them yet. They do trust private-public key cryptography, due to changes in law. But Science might trust them.

And I think the various kinds of manipulations that geophysical and oceanographic data are subjected would pose a challenge to archivists and blockchain technologists, particularly when large sets are combined using a specific algorithm embodied in code to produce a result. It seems to me the chain of the code needs to be joined in the chain, too.

Isoroku Yamamoto’s sleeping giant quotation is a quote by the Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto regarding the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor by forces of Imperial Japan.

The quotation is portrayed at the very end of the 1970 film Tora! Tora! Tora! as:

I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve

Snapshots from the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting.
Above, California Governor Brown gave a rousing and defiant talk that was well received.

Below, updated animation from the Arctic Report Card.

LiveScience:

The year showed “a stronger, more pronounced signal of persistent warming than any other year in our observation record,” he said.

These changes have had considerable impacts…

View original post 639 more words

Global Carbon Dioxide in 3D

Your CO2, my CO2 doesn’t remain with you or me, but mixes broadly and thoroughly over the planet at large.

So, we all share responsibility for the damage.

Credit: NASA And brought to you by OCO-2.

The world in pictures

(Click on image for a larger figure, and use browser Back Button to return to blog.)

(Click on image for a larger figure, and use browser Back Button to return to blog.)

Hat tip to Ed Hawkins at the Climate Lab Book for the graph of temperature changes, and Green Tech Media for the graph of solar PV installations.

David Puttnam, in a moving appeal on climate

David Puttnum (yes, the producer-director) has a very moving appeal on climate:

Hat tip to Tamino.

President Lyndon Johnson was the first to receive a briefing regarding the looming crisis presented by abrupt climate change. That was in 1965. And we’ve been “waiting for more substantial evidence“ ever since.

Hah.

It’s pretty clear some people’s wishful thinking means they won’t change their minds until until they witness a sufficiently severe and unprecedented natural demonstration, and the threshold will differ. Unfortunately, by the time this happens or they succumb to acceptance, doing something about it will be horrifically expensive, and will be all the more expensive because wealth will be being destroyed by these changes in anything but a gradual manner.

My advice to kids? Get the most education, the best training you can, in the deep sciences, or engineering, or especially mathematics or medicine, and insulate yourself as much as you can.

To the aware us? We need to continue to fight for a human future.

And to the people who doubt, deny, delay, profit … you won’t have to answer to me: Nature will take your wealth, whether from you, or from your children. But you do have a lot of forgiveness to ask, of the millions around the world who suffer because of your pursuit of comfort.

[Ezekiel 16:49] Behold, this was the sin of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, surfeit of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and the needy. 

Energy Consumption with Air Source Heat Pumps and Water Heater

Once nice thing about having a net metered solar PV array is that, with a little diligence, you can figure out how much electricity your household is consuming each day, or at finer resolution if you like (*). Below is the report of that from mid-May through early December 2016 for ours. Recall we have a zero Carbon home, but no EV (see also). We heat and cool the house with air source heat pumps (“ductless minisplits”) as well as heat hot water with air source heat pump and sometimes hybrid electric element (50 gallon GE GeoSpring hot water heater, with hybrid element being a more efficient way at times of using electric energy).

(Click on image to see a larger figure, and use your browser Back Button to return to blog.)

This is the consumption as calculated by the change in meter readings day-over-day added to solar generation. Change in meter readings can be negative when we give back to the grid more than we use, and that’s when we earn towards a snowy or rainy day. Not all days were recorded, but when they were not the total energy consumed and generated in the gap was tallied, and an average energy per day used to impute the consumption.

The Thanksgiving Day spike is pronounced. Not a surprise: Claire did a bunch of baking, and roasted a turkey breast for guests. (We’re vegetarians.) We have an electric induction stovetop, and a conventional big oven. We typically use a small convection oven and our microwave really gets used a lot.

We have a dishwasher which is run nearly every day, and we shower every other day or so, depending upon our athletic exercise schedules.

Our lights are now mostly LEDs with a couple of lamps still using fluorescents. We do put up a small number of holiday lights.

Our washer and dryer are electric, and most of the year Claire air dries clothes on our deck, using the dryer for fluffing.

* Of course, with the proper meter, that is, one having sufficient resolution or a read-out port accessible from the Web, this can be done without solar PV as well. Or, better still, using an eMonitor, you can see and record energy usage on each circuit and on each (major) device in a home. The latter is available from Powerwise Systems or from The Energy Circle.

Why smooth?

I’ve encountered a number of blog posts this week which seem not to understand the Bias-Variance Tradeoff in regard to Mean-Squared-Error. These arose in connection with smoothing splines, which I was studying in connection with multivariate adaptive regression splines, that is actually something different than smoothing splines. (I will have a post here soon on multivariate adaptive regression splines, or the earth procedure as it’s called.)

The general notion some people seem to have is that smoothing splines throw away information and introduce correlation where there isn’t any, and it distorts scientific data. A particularly obnoxious example of this is at science denier William Briggs’ blog. Another, milder instance is at a blog post by a blogger called “Joseph” who specializes, he says, in “A closer look at scientific data and claims, with an emphasis on anthropogenic global warming.” I was going to put in a comment at the blog, but apparently comments there are closed, or at least no longer work. (So do some links to data from that post.) So, instead, I’m putting it here. I already answered a question at Stats Stackexchange which invoked Briggs.

Smoothing is not about making a picture nicer or losing information. It is about the bias-variance tradeoff. Given that minimizing mean squared error in fitting data with a non-parametric (or, for that matter, any) model is important, introducing a bias in a model, such as smoothing in a spline can reduce variability and, so, reduce overall mean squared error of a fit.

The Wikipedia page shows the connection with bias and variance, and the proof of their relationship.

It was an important finding by Stein in 1955, which gave rise to deliberately introducing some bias via things like James-Stein estimators in order to improve overall performance. Prior to Stein’s insight, classical statistics only considered unbiased estimators, and that insight showed that procedures like maximum likelihood estimation were not optimal, even if they work well a lot of the time.

And, accordingly, “Joseph”‘s criticism of the Law Dome CO2 data is not well founded. I bring his and the reader’s attention to a paper co-authored by Etheridge, one of the co-authors of the Law Dome work, about why smoothing splines are used.

Note mean-squared-error is disguised in various powerful measures of model fit, like the Akaike Information Criterion.

Update, 2016-12-27: Smooth, yes, but don’t ever expect to see the smoothed curve realized

While the smoothed version of a series can and often does provide an estimate with the least mean-squared-error, if properly chosen, it is a different question whether the presentation of such a smoothed curve is the best to convey the series, especially if communicating with the statistically uninitiated. The smoothed version of a curve is an idealization, intended for purposes of forecasting, or prediction (they are not the same), and sometimes for helping to tease out physical mechanisms giving rise to the observed phenomenon.

For one thing, the smoothed or idealized curve has zero probability of actually being realized, even on the span of support for which it is calculated. Actual realizations of the phenomenal or observed series will have excursions from the smooth guided by the distribution of its residuals, and it is entirely a part of the series to see these excursions and, moreover, expect that if (it were possible to draw) another realization of the series, there would be a different set of excursions applied.

For another, the general public does not seem to get the idea of a data series with random excursions atop a pattern, and appear to approach these matters as if they were entirely deterministic. That’s a very classical kind of notion: The Watchmaker’s Universe. In this view, the only reason why phenomena are not perfectly predicted is because we have but imperfect knowledge of the science involved, or of Nature, or something, and only a Deity knows these (notwithstanding the Deity knowing what all individuals will choose if Free Will is posited). A different view, more modern is that even a Deity cannot predict perfectly how another realization of these stochastic phenomena will play out.

So, the best way to communicate this variability to me is to present the observed data from the series, present the smoothed realization, and then present a cloud or ensemble of draws from the smoothed curve with excursions governed by residuals atop of it. For example,

(Click on image to see larger figure, and use browser Back Button to return to blog.

By the way, the example above shows two competing models for the smooth to the data.

If dependent data are to be emphasized, then using ensembles of tracks such as the reasonably famous hurricane tracks are useful:

(Click on image to see larger figure, and use browser Back Button to return to blog.

93% of year is free of cost, with heat, cooling, hot water, powered by free solar PHOTONS

A retrospective, something we all now need. Remember:

Well, today, we reached a landmark with our 10 kW solar array. The numbers aren’t completely in yet (*), since we don’t have a total for electrical energy consumption, but 93% of the days this year were powered by the energy generated by our 10 kW rooftop solar installation consisting of SunPower panels installed by RevoluSun.

This, admittedly, involves using the facilities of Eversource as a big energy storage facility, via net metering. It’s possible that, in the future, that role will be provided by someone or something else.

In addition, our nearly 10 MWh of generation this year will produce nearly 10 SRECs, which earn, per the Renewable Portfolio Standard incentives, an additional $2600 of income. And, note, we are heating, cooling, and heating hot water all with high efficiency zero Carbon energy. The additional 25 days or overage of energy we take comes from wind farms, by our choice, and paying a premium above the base rate from Eversource. Not too shabby. Not too shabby at all.﻿ And, yeah, we’re crazy about doin’ this. It’s awesome. Beat that, fossil fuels. You don’t need a Carbon Tax to be incentivized to do this. This is profitable right here and now. And this is snowy, cold Massachusetts. Think of what an Oklahoma could do? (*) I will update these results in a later post when we have the full year’s energy needs complete. Indigenous peoples win a reprieve, and, no matter what comes later, a solid victory “The Army has determined that additional discussion and analysis are warranted in light of the history of the Great Sioux Nation’s dispossessions of lands, the importance of Lake Oahe to the Tribe, our government-to-government relationship, and the statute governing easements through government property.” http://player.theplatform.com/p/7wvmTC/MSNBCEmbeddedOffSite?guid=n_msnbc_pipeline_161204 November 14, 2016 Moira Kelley (DOA) 703-614-3992, moira.l.kelley.civ@mail.mil Jessica Kershaw (DOI), interior_press@ios.doi.gov Washington, D.C. — Today, the Army informed the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Energy Transfer Partners, and Dakota Access, LLC, that it has completed the review that it launched on September 9, 2016. The Army has determined that additional discussion and analysis are warranted in light of the history of the Great Sioux Nation’s dispossessions of lands, the importance of Lake Oahe to the Tribe, our government-to-government relationship, and the statute governing easements through government property. The Army invites the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to engage in discussion regarding potential conditions on an easement for the pipeline crossing that would reduce the risk of a spill or rupture, hasten detection and response to any possible spill, or otherwise enhance the protection of Lake Oahe and the Tribe’s water supplies. The Army invites discussion of the risk of a spill in light of such conditions, and whether to grant an easement for the pipeline to cross Lake Oahe at the proposed location. The Army continues to welcome any input that the Tribe believes is relevant to the proposed pipeline crossing or the granting of an easement. While these discussions are ongoing, construction on or under Corps land bordering Lake Oahe cannot occur because the Army has not made a final decision on whether to grant an easement. The Army will work with the Tribe on a timeline that allows for robust discussion and analysis to be completed expeditiously. We fully support the rights of all Americans to assemble and speak freely, and urge everyone involved in protest or pipeline activities to adhere to the principles of nonviolence. Army POC: Moira Kelley (703) 614-3992, moira.l.kelley.civ@mail.mil The Department of the Army will not approve an easement that would allow the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe in North Dakota, the Army’s Assistant Secretary for Civil Works announced today. Jo-Ellen Darcy said she based her decision on a need to explore alternate routes for the Dakota Access Pipeline crossing. Her office had announced on November 14, 2016 that it was delaying the decision on the easement to allow for discussions with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, whose reservation lies 0.5 miles south of the proposed crossing. Tribal officials have expressed repeated concerns over the risk that a pipeline rupture or spill could pose to its water supply and treaty rights. “Although we have had continuing discussion and exchanges of new information with the Standing Rock Sioux and Dakota Access, it’s clear that there’s more work to do,” Darcy said. “The best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing.” Darcy said that the consideration of alternative routes would be best accomplished through an Environmental Impact Statement with full public input and analysis. The Dakota Access Pipeline is an approximately 1,172 mile pipeline that would connect the Bakken and Three Forks oil production areas in North Dakota to an existing crude oil terminal near Pakota, Illinois. The pipeline is 30 inches in diameter and is projected to transport approximately 470,000 barrels of oil per day, with a capacity as high as 570,000 barrels. The current proposed pipeline route would cross Lake Oahe, an Army Corps of Engineers project on the Missouri River. Statement from Attorney General Loretta Lynch: A little history, from The Daily Show: I love the rhetorical question, “What are we gonna do, just not use oil?”, from Trevor Noah. Update, 2016-12-06 For Energy Transfer Partners, which says the 1,170-mile pipeline is 92 percent complete, the move smacked of politics. In a statement Sunday night, the company said the “further delay is just the latest in a series of overt and transparent political actions by an administration which has abandoned the rule of law in favor of currying favor with a narrow and extreme political constituency.” The “rule of law.” What law? A law that has bought and sold jurists to decide against indigenous peoples of North American for two centuries? A law that has enabled stripping of forests and justified destruction of animals, of habitats, of systems upon which we, collectively and ultimately, depend? What constituency? One that is hurling itself headlong off a cliff, so it can get to work five minutes faster, to earn money to Buy More Junk in a season rationalized by appeal to a mere story about a deity who justifies that constituencies’ mistreatment of other peoples and the land and of Nature because, well, the deity wouldn’t come here otherwise, would he? Extreme? Energy companies who haphazardly subject their employees and their families to cancer? And to dangers of mine collapse? And risks of explosion? Who put delivery of energy above life? Energy forms we don’t even need? Am I angry? You bet. And I will delight in the day when the enablers, the stockholders of these companies lose their shirts when their assets are stranded because they’ve been beaten by technology in the open market. That will happen, no matter what party is in control or who is in the White House. (It may not happen fast enough to save our grandchildren, but, hey, a big chunk of the American public has shown they don’t give a flea’s ass care about that.) And the leaders of these companies? They’ll go off to some off-the-Florida coast island and live out their days on the legal profits of their scam, at the stockholders’ expense. Do I care? No. The stockholders deserve every moment of fear and discomfort. Cape Cod National Seashore: Testament to how fragile our collective hold is on any land IDL TIFF file (Click on photo to see larger image, and use browser Back Button to return to blog.) How Cape Cod changes. (Click on photo to see larger image, and use browser Back Button to return to blog.) “Climate Change and the Post-Election Blues” (a reblog of a post by Meredith Fowlie at The Energy Institute, BerkeleyHAAS) Re: Meredith Fowlie, “Climate change and the post-election blues”, from The Energy Institute, BerkeleyHAAS Some direction. My only comments regard Dr Fowlie’s LCoE analysis. While correct from its perspective, LCoE depends upon the viewpoint of the cost efficiency. For example, because residential PV is generated close to the consumption point, it avoids Sankey inefficiencies from upstream, primarily due to conversion losses when stepping up and down. So, from the perspective of cost of energy, there is a benefit to local generation. Note most wind generation does not have this efficiency either. The other efficiency which an “at delivery point” LCoE fails to see is use of capital. In particular, private capital is being deployed to construct residential PV and, to some extent, wind. Now, one can argue that capital costs of wind are recovered from ratepayers, but in the case of solar PV, unless some of those incentives like the ITC are factored into the CoE locally, seen as rewards for putting up capital, the price to the consumer using the PV is exaggerated. If they are not included, it seems that the social benefits of not having to raise or bear the cost of capital for that portion of generation ought to be reflected as well. I am living in a very blue state. The graph below charts Google searches for “stages of grief”. The spike in grief-stricken web/soul searching corresponds with- you guessed it- the 2016 election. The map shows where, in the days following the election, these searches were happening. Not surprisingly, post-election blues show up disproportionately in blue states. Graph: Generated by Google trends (search term = “stages of grief”, region = United States). The numbers represent search interest (by week) relative to the highest point over the past 5 years. A value of 100 is the peak popularity for the term. Map: Also generated by Google trends, measures search term popularity as a fraction of total searches in that state. Deeper blue indicates higher popularity of Trump grief in the week following the election. Many of us who are feeling blue about what a Trump presidency could usher in (or throw… View original post 981 more words “… The Green-Feminine stereotype and its effect on sustainable consumption” Updated, 2016-11-28 I heard about this study earlier this year, and queued it up for a careful examination. I got to that today. The article is: A R Brough, J E B Wilkie, J Ma, M S Isaac, D Gal, “Is Eco-Friendly unmanly? The Green-Feminine stereotype and its effect on sustainable consumption”, Journal of Consumer Research, December 2016, 43(4) 567-582. It’s not a study I would draw deep conclusions from, and I find their generalizations unwarranted. Sample smudges: • Based upon 7 studies. One study had 127 university students, using a hypothesis drawn from the literature. 52% are male. A second had “… 194 students (45.9% male; mean age = 23.05) simultaneously recruited from two private universities to participate in an online survey.” (Emphasis added.) A third had “… 131 individuals (58.0% male; mean age = 35.21) recruited on Mechanical Turk to participate in an online study session.” A fourth had 403 “… American men (mean age = 32.68) were recruited from Mechanical Turk to participate in the study.” (Note that on the fourth study, the scholars qualified the results with “Although only males had been recruited to participate in this study, fourteen participants reported their gender as female and were therefore excluded. This left 389 participants for the analysis.”) A fifth had 472 “… participants (49.4% male; mean age = 35.29 recruited from Mechanical Turk completed the study.” There were also studies 6A and 6B, whose descriptions add no insight. • For the interpretation of the first study, “There was no difference in IAT D-score by participant gender; F(1, 57) = .11, p = .74, ηp2 < .01, suggesting that both men and women cognitively associate the concepts of greenness and femininity.'' I need not say more. They are erroneously interpreting a high p-value as meaning the null is confirmed. Later “… the target’s gender and environmental behavior remained significant predictors of femininity (p’s .37).” • The litany of woes continues in later summaries: “Because the two dependent measures were highly correlated (α = .87), we averaged them to form a composite evaluation measure.” The scholars draw overly strong conclusions from the limited data in hand. For example, they write: … [W]e provide the first experimental evidence of the implicit cognitive association between the concepts of greenness and femininity (study 1), and show that this association can affect both social judgments (study 2) and self-perception (study 3) among both men and women. Focusing on the downstream consequences of this green-feminine stereotype, studies 4-6 suggest that as a result of gender identity maintenance, gender cues (e.g., those that threaten or affirm a consumer’s gender identity or that influence a brand’s gender associations) are more likely to affect men’s (vs. women’s) preferences for green products and willingness to engage in green behaviors. Further, they have the audacity to claim “More generally, our findings also add to a growing body of research pointing to a link between identity and consumers’ tendency to engage in sustainable behavior.” What “growing body of research?” A correlation-only-based study like J A Lee, S J S Holden, “Understanding the determinants of environmentally conscious behavior,” Psychology and Marketing, 1999, 16(5), 373-92? Apart from the sampling issues (Mechanical Turk? Really?), the wholesale neglect of repeated uses of the same population for successive tests with no corrections (even if this passes a smell test’ in their field, and, obviously, satisfies their peer reviewers), and the failure to estimate in-sample versus out-of-sample effects through some kind of bootstrap or cross-validation means that, for all we know, these conclusions are limited to the samples the scholars took. Since Turk was used in most of the tests, it could not have hurt to repeat the same study with another draw for each from the general population, or seeing how much their p-values varied with matched subset of the samples they had. In the very first study, the scholars reported a p-value less than 0.001. That is extraordinary with a sample size of only 127. Posted in Frequentist, statistics | Leave a comment Getting back to 350 ppm CO2: You can’t go home again (Major update of this piece included below.) You can’t. It’ll cost much more than 23 times 40 times the Gross World Product to do it. And, in any case, you need to go to where you need to be to avoid the problem in the first place. But I get ahead of myself … [A qualification: The techniques described here are limited to those where the technology is identified well enough to be able to assign a cost estimate per tonne of CO2 for removal. I did not treat any speculative, as yet undeveloped techniques.] Update, 2016-11-27 J Hansen, M Sato, P Kharecha, K von Schuckmann, D J Beerling, J Cao, S Marcott, V Masson-Delmotte, M J Prather, E J Rohling, J Shakun, P Smith, “Young People’s Burden: Requirement of Negative CO2 Emissions”, Earth System Dynamics Discussions, 2016, 1-40. Update, 2016-11-28 Updated with footnote (*) addressing other geoengineering techniques like terraforming. From time to time I’ve posted on technical efforts to reduce CO2 concentrations after having exceeded some viscerally objectionable level. I put up another post here. However, despite discussions of this available on blogs, in technical literature, and in peer-reviewed journals, there is little discussion of the sheer cost and magnitude of doing this. There has been some discussion of the pitfalls of doing the cheaper solar radiation management, which limits warming but does nothing for ocean acidification which, as the recent episode of Years of Living Dangerously testifies, will deprive at least hundreds of millions of people around Earth their food supply. I won’t repeat here why CO2 cannot reasonably be scrubbed by natural processes on any time scale which matters to people, or why the only way to stop the increase in concentration in atmosphere is to zero all CO2 emissions and related ones, like methane (CH4) which decompose into CO2. This is purely a look at the economic feasibility of doing something after the fact should people decide, collectively, that the consequences of emitting greenhouse gases at a rate faster than any time in a hundred million years or so was a bad idea. And I won’t address how long it would take Earth to get sane again once such a project succeeded. Needless to say there are time lags involved, and anyone with experience shooting skeet should well know what happens if time lags are not considered during the exercise. To begin with, the idea of clear air capture or direct capture of carbon dioxide is explained and argued by the great oceanographer and climate scientist, Professor Wally Broecker, in an article titled “Does air capture constitute a viable backstop against a bad CO2 trip?” Broecker concludes in that article Because of this very wide range, it is widely believed that the cost would lie somewhere in the middle, leading to a consensus cost of about 600 dollars a ton of CO2 (American Physical Society, 2011). If this proves to be the price, then air capture of CO2 is unlikely to be viable. Professor Broecker does go on to urge research and development in such a massive global apparatus, concluding As much of the world’s GNP goes into producing CO2, reversing the trend by air capture will be a very expensive proposition. But looked at in a positive way, the capture and storage of CO2 would create an industry 10 to 20 percent the size of the energy industry (i.e., lots of jobs). Once implemented, it would raise the price of fossil fuel energy, supplying an additional edge for renewable sources. But let’s see what’s meant here in terms of investment, using the American Physical Society price of US$600/tonne (2010 dollars) as a start, and how low the price per captured tonne of CO2 needs to be in order to be plausible.

We are currently at 404 ppm CO2:

(Click on image to see a larger figure, and use browser Back Button to return to blog.)
Depending upon success with curtailing emissions, represented by concentration pathways, these are the concentrations we might see:

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What this means in terms of forcings is summarized at Wikipedia with the conservative values** presented in the table below:

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(Details about RCPs are available here.)

To complete the picture, here are the latest forcing estimates, from Potsdam:

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The sea level rise impacts are probably understated in the Wikipedia table, due to underestimates of ice sheet effects, and poor constraints on process.

The figures suggest that if RCP 8.5 (“business as usual”) is pursued, 1220 ppm CO2 by 2100 is completely within reach. But to show how expensive clear air capture is, I’ll use RCP 6.0, which ends up, in 2100, emitting per year just half per year that RCP 8.5 does. Overall, RCP 6.0 ends up with 55% of the total cumulative CO2 emissions that RCP 8.5 does, and reaches 730 ppm at 2100. I’ll assume no negative emissions technology has been deployed at that point, and then assume it is instantaneously operational at 2100. I’ll further assume that the target of direct air capture is to reduce CO2 concentrations to the relatively benign but still not completely safe 350 ppm that the hard-working proponents of 350.org espouse. (If 350 ppm had never been exceeded, we’d still witness the eventual melt of a lot of ice sheets, although this would be slower.)

The first thing to realize is that direct air capture necessarily assumes emissions of CO2 have stopped and the job is draw down the emissions that are there. While there is a natural decline of emissions, about 200 ppm in 400 years, and 250 ppm in 1000 years, it plateaus and decreases very slowly afterwards. The rule of thumb is that 40% of cumulative carbon dioxide remains in atmosphere after 1000 years. If direct air capture were deployed, it would need to counter the ongoing emissions and work to draw down preexisting concentrations of CO2. Worse, to the degree that, for instance, fugitive CH4 and other species which decompose into CO2 are released, these would not be available for removal immediately, but would continue to contribute over their decay cycles.

Accordingly, deployment of direct air capture means that the entire economic cost of going to zero Carbon emissions is borne at the outset.

Then, assuming the climatic conditions associated with 730 ppm at 2100 for RCP 6.0 are intolerable, I assume the globe deploys direct air capture at US$600/tonne CO2. Note that such scrubbing of atmosphere will not reverse sea level rise, since heat in oceans (and, in general, in water) is released only on time scales of tens of thousands of years. Moreover, there is a slow outgassing of CO2 from oceans once atmospheric concentrations diminish, and this outgassing proceeds only at a natural rate, one which may not be consistent with engineering targets. So, 730 ppm to 350 ppm involves direct capture and permanent sequestration of 380 ppm of CO2. Each 0.127 ppm corresponds to a billion tonnes of CO2. Accordingly, $\frac{380 \text{ppm}}{0.127 \text{ppm/GtCO2}}$ = 2992 GtCO2 = 3 trillion tonnes CO2. At US$600 per tonne, that’s US$1800 trillion in 2010 dollars. To give you an idea of the size of this number, the entire gross world product in 2014 was$78 trillion dollars. Accordingly, the cost of coming down 380 ppm after we zero CO2 emissions is $\frac {\1800}{\78} = 23$ times the gross world product in 2014. That’s simply not feasible in any scenario.

How much cheaper must direct air capture get in order for it to be feasible? Well, let’s take a megaproject, like the construction of the Chunnel across the English channel. This cost about US$7 billion in 1994 dollars. In 2010 dollars that’s US$10.3 billion. So, suppose we are willing to spend the equivalent of 100 Chunnel projects to make civilization viable on Earth again. That’s about US$1 trillion in 2010 dollars. Assume this measure of feasibility and plausibility, direct air capture of CO2 with sequestration needs to be $\frac{\600\text{per tonne}}{1800}$ or US$0.33 per tonne in 2010 dollars.

I don’t care what technology you have in mind, that ain’t gonna happen.

Direct air capture of CO2 is tough because there are so few molecules per unit volume to catch.

Update, 2017-01-13

One important aspect the above neglects is CO2 dissolved in the oceans and captured by the soils. The point is made most directly in a 2015 paper by Tokarska and Zickfield and in its supplemment. The same idea was discussed earlier, not in the context of geoengineering through CO2 capture, but in terms of the lifetime of atmospheric CO2 and its effects after human emissions were zeroed. See Archer, et al, 2009, and Solomon, et al. The implications for global containment policy were described in a 2012 paper by Matthews, Solomon and Pierrehumbert where they argue (a) atmospheric concentrations and emissions intensity are, for physical reasons, not really useful gauges of progress in containing the effects of human-created climate change, and (b) there should be a renewed emphasis upon cumulative Carbon emissions. Their arguments seemed to have been missed by many who seem to think that if emission rates plateau we’ll see some useful response from the climate system.

In short, oceans and soils are, in the long run, in equilibrium with atmosphere with respect to any particular gaseous species like CO2. In the short run, they are not, because it takes time (decades) for oceans to take up their share of free CO2 because of complicated mixing processes. Similarly with soils, although I’ve never seen a time constant for that process. Not sure there is one. But in the end, oceans pick up 30% of human CO2 emissions. (Eli Rabett does a nice review of the chemistry here.) Soils and trees and things, primarily old growth forests and other terrestrial ecosystems, pick up another 25%. These figures are the result of careful Carbon accounting and measurements. (See also.) Assuming these continue picking excess CO2 up at these rates, should emissions stop, and then reverse with negative emissions technology, what would happen?

As concentrations of CO2 in atmosphere decrease, oceans and terrestrial ecosystems are out-of-equilibrium, so the process reverses: CO2 there eventually begins coming back out into the atmosphere. The net effect of this, and why my calculations here understate the cost of clear air capture, is that what needs to be removed is not just the concentration of CO2 in atmosphere, but essentially all that people have ever released to the climate system!

If these additional reservoirs are included, then the total cost of extraction and sequestration nearly doubles, giving the 40 times number quoted at the revised outset. There’s nothing special about that. This simply reflects the fossil fuel carbon dioxide that has been so far stored in oceans and forest soils of the total amount emitted, which is at least 50% of emissions.

And if that isn’t bad enough, there is some evidence (see Section 2.7) that these sinks of CO2 are slowing down in their ability to temporarily hold CO2 meaning that more, as a fraction, will go into the atmosphere.

There’s an amazing group of people who keep track of Carbon accounts year over year. (Thanks to Glen Peters for pointing me to this.)

Now, it’s clear who is at fault and who, properly speaking, should bear the burden of doing these crazy things if they were needed and if they were feasible.

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Pick on China all you want, but since radiative forcing of atmosphere and oceans is due to cumulative emissions, not instantaneous emissions, Europe and the United States carry the greatest responsibility, including contributing their share of deforestation. Moreover, if China were excessively penalized, effectively this would be a tariff on products manufactured there, and, in the end, the consumers of North America and Europe would end up paying.

(Click on image to see a larger figure, and use browser Back Button to return to blog.)

Note that OCO-2, the satellite system*** which produced these figures, data products which support state efforts to manage their fossil fuel emissions, may be on President-elect Trump’s “hit list” of systems to be terminated because of his commitment to shut down “the politicized science” of climate. (I’ll have more to say about that soon.)

* This post does not address terraforming techniques like those proposed by Ornstein, Aleinov, and Rind in the 2009 paper “Irrigated afforestation of the Sahara and Australian Outback to end global warming”, Climatic Change 97:409–437, or that by Becker, Wulfmeyer, Berger, Gebel, Munch in 2013, “Carbon farming in hot, dry coastal areas: an option for climate change mitigation”, Earth System Dynamaics, 4, 237–251. For a discussion of these proposals along with solar radiation management and other proposals like iron fertilization of oceans, see Keller, Feng, and Oschlies, “Potential climate engineering effectiveness and side effects during a high carbon dioxide-emission scenario”, Nature Communications, 5 3304 (2014).

** As mentioned a bit later in the post, these are conservative because they do not reflect
the full contribution of ice sheet disintegration and our scientific failure to account for all contributers.

*** A satellite does not suffice for producing such informative data. There are ground stations, previous calibration data, registration sets, and, of course, lots of talented people who operate such equipment and process data to produce usable products. This is the same with any set of scientific or, for that matter, intelligence community products.

“Negative emissions” (from ATTP)

Key quote-within-a-quote from article at And Then There’s Physics:

If the expected negative emissions cannot ultimately be achieved, the decades in which society had allowed itself a slower, softer transition would turn out to be a dangerous delay of much-needed rapid emission reductions. Saddled with a fossil fuel-dependent energy infrastructure, society would face a much more abrupt and disruptive transition than the one it had sought to avoid. Having exceeded its available carbon budget, and unable to compensate with negative emissions, it could also face more severe climate change impacts than it had prepared for.

I went to some Departmental talks recently and discovered that some of my colleagues are researchering possible carbon sequestration technologies. This could be very important, but appealing to negative emission technologies is often quite strongly criticised. The basic argument (which has some merit) is that providing this as a possibility can provide policy makers with an argument for delaying action that might reduce emissions sooner.

Although I have some sympathy with these criticisms, I do have some issues with them. One is that it often involves criticising climate models that include negative emission pathways. The problem I have with this is that they seem to use “climate model” as a catch all for any kind of model associated with climate change. However, there are a large number of different models. Some are trying to understand how our climate responds to changes, and – typically – use concentration pathways. Others try…

View original post 442 more words

the Pale Blue Dot, once again

No other perspective matters, however disenfranchised some may feel. For, ignoring that perspective, they will fight Something they cannot beat.

Remember, Nature Bats Last.

Obviously, sea level rise and climate change are a hoax …

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The seawater in that parking lot is a foot deep.

People can deny what’s happening in any of several varied ways. They can claim it does not affect them.

In the end, Nature will speak and, as Richard Feynman insisted, the “truth will out.”

(Photo credit and story to the Scituate Wicked Local of 15th November 2016.)

Update, 2016-11-17

More photos and a story from the Capital Weather Gang at the Washington Post.

Should choice belong to those who contribute the most?

When running a corporation there are various kinds of productivity measures that can be used. There are bizzare ones like return on controllable assets (ROCA), and typical ones like overall revenue, or overall profit. When judging productivity of employees and divisions, measures like revenue per division, or revenue per employee are used.

If the United States were a corporation, and we further imagine states are comparable to divisions, the most valuable states are those who have a high gross state product per person. This means that, in terms of the overall United States domestic product, these individuals are contributing more to overall wealth than are citizens in other states. Gross state product itself is interesting, but it is less a fair comparison since states having simply large numbers of people win over smaller ones.

What’s interesting is that, while there are exceptions, most of the high GSP-per-capita states voted Democratic in the recent 2016 Presidential election. In fact 70% did. These are the top 20, from the most productive per capita to the least:

 Washington, DC D Delaware D Alaska R North Dakota R Connecticut D Wyoming R Massachusetts D New York D New Jersey D Oregon D Washington D Virginia D Maryland D Texas R Colorado D Illinois D California D Nebraska R Hawaii D South Dakota R

It is interesting that D.C., while not a state, ranks above them all.

So, in all the explaining that Trump won because people feel left out of the discourse, there are two points to be made.

First, it’s possible that those who have influence do so because they are, in fact, more productive. There is an argument, from a capitalist mindset, that those who contribute the most to the common enterprise should indeed have the most say.

And, second, people who feel left out could choose to move to a state where they contribute and, on average, earn more. That they don’t is actually their own choice.

So, ironically, it is not that states which vote Democratic have a lock on politics at the expense of those who do not. They also contribute to the common wealth the most. Shareholders in corporations with more shares have more say. Oughtn’t voters in such states do the same?

(Figure deleted, 4 December 2016.)

Update, 2016-11-20

I added something related to this in a comment at FT today:

I also think that the “elitism” of which some Trump supporters complain is itself a myth and a mirage. A possible response, noting that a substantial chunk of the GDP of the USA comes from those states accused of being elitist, is to, for a chance, actually exert there power and influence as elites rather than trying to get along with everyone else.

If some people are going to claim they don’t want to have certain kinds of people in their states and their communities, some of those same people should understand very very clearly that their behaviors, attitudes, and expressed opinions will not be tolerated in communities and states which try to be open to all nationalities and outlooks from everywhere, whether Muslim, gay, Jewish, atheist, trans, bisexual, queer, or otherwise.

And, should there be an attempt at some kind of punitive response from the new Presidency and Congress, they need us more than we need them. We can find other customers. And they cannot replace the skills and capabilities of these “elitist” regions without, ironically, buying those skills from outside the United States. They can develop them elsewhere in the country, but that would take years and years, and could not, without diversity in origin and outlook, be successful. Just look at the makeup of any major university: MIT, Harvard, UC Berkeley, Duke, CalTech, University of Massachusetts, University of Texas, University of Chicago, and so on.

Moreover, corporations affected by such measures can work against them.

Hopefully it won’t come to that, but, as the reason for my FT comment shows, the Trump entourage has a really thin skin, and puts “winning” and it’s own image ahead of sense. They could really misfire in a big way, say, in cybersecurity.

Update, 2016-12-04

From The New York Times, 3rd December 2016.

Posted in capitalism, corporations, elitism, politics, United States | 1 Comment

Overreaction to the Trumpistas?

Anyone who thinks the reaction of people in the streets against the election of Donald Trump to be President is an overreaction, or, by extension, the fierce opposition to voters who chose to elect him is somehow lacking understanding or is unfair, needs to have a good look at the responses of many other people unfiltered by what’s called U.S. media journalism.

I am shooting snaps of these sources and placing them here, partly because they are volatile and are likely to change in a day, and partly because some of them are behind paywalls.

In my reviews, some of the most startling one can be found on the international page of Der Spiegel/Spiegel ONLINE:

Accordingly, the reaction of people in the streets is not simply the response of some hot heads, or sore losers. There’s a large chunk of the world population as concerned, even if they are not demonstrating. Some governments are reacting and posturing, too.

It’s also interesting to see Der Spiegel blame new media in part for this development, in their article on Google and Facebook.

It is self-delusion to take any comfort from the technical majority being in support of Clinton, since however way you slice it, almost half voted for Trump.

Trump’s supporters cannot change natural reality, even through Trump; we can and should continue to act, in hope

I like his emphasis upon Remember residual damage, and that’s There’s no rewind button.

That’s Alex Steffen, who has the most optimistic post-Trump spiel I’ve read.

And there’s always the optimism that comes with China’s warning Trump about not taking action on climate.

Another Secretary of State showing “poor judgment” regarding classified information

Henry Kissinger was caught at the UN having a Top Secret document on his desk, improperly and carelessly, a photo which appeared in Newsweek on 22 November 22 1971:

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Where was Congress and the FBI then?

The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer.

— Secretary of State and UN Ambassador Henry Kissinger

“Trump can’t stop the energy revolution” (Bloomberg)

Excerpt:

Onshore wind is already cost-competitive with natural gas in the U.S. and solar costs are falling rapidly. This chart shows the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) for various generating technologies entering service in 2022, taking into account capital, fuel, financing, maintenance and other costs. It’s subject to a lot of assumptions, but you’ll get the general idea.

Prescience and Response

I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time — when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness…

The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance.

Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, 1997 (Emphasis added)

I’ve often thought that Sagan’s Science as a Candle ought to be required reading for UUs, if anything could be made required reading. 😉

On climate, our task now is not to put our heads down, save what little we can.
Our task is to raise our vision, and fight for everything.

Alex Steffen, 12:42 EST, 9 November 2016

On the rise of the Trumpistas …

Just a couple of things to write about The Obvious. I have written a couple of longer thoughts as Comments, here and here, at … And Then There’s Physics.

I reiterate that I don’t believe any voter was hoodwinked, that they knew exactly what they were getting with the Trump junta, and that it represents a significant portion of America becoming unhinged from reality. It’s possible to speculate why, but probably not really constructive, just consoling: The United States seems more and more an empire in decline*, and it is not that it isn’t a great country — of course, it is — it’s just that when you’ve been an empire, there’s a certain kind of self-imaging and set of expectations that comes with that, and when things seem powerless, not “on top of the hill” any longer, whether economically or internationally, based upon history, notably Great Britain, the public does not like that. I think people want the lifestyle and economy they came to expect, and it is not in hand. I say this has nothing to do with cultural changes or immigration or increased numbers of guaranteed social goods or government spending but, rather, that we, as a country, have used up our technological and creative capital which came with a generation of kids, now upper middle aged adults, who sought after and were trained in engineering and science, and gave us the best productivity ever seen. That time is past. And we are paying for it.

I entirely expect Science in the United States will suffer, and that’s all the more reason to support your favorite institution yourself (see the Donate) and support organizations which defend Science, like AAAS and UCS. It’s only logical that federal support for climate science will be hobbled, now that Smith and Imhofe have free reign. It might even be made illegal for a federal worker to utter “climate change” as it was in Florida. I expect a flight of scientists from the federal establishment to other places, and probably to other countries where they can.

I entirely expect the line that scientists are “climate alarmists” will get tremendous play, from leaders and in media, because, for the most part, the media are cowards.

And, unfortunately, the Trumpistas will assure that serious action on climate mitigation will be delayed yet another 8 years, even if Democrats regain in 2020, and that a bunch of fossil fuel infrastructure with half century lifetimes will get built. The United States already has a lot to answer for in creating the climate emergency. It will have a great deal more.

But, no matter, reality is reality, and Nature will respond, eventually.

There are some things which won’t change.

While the solar energy stocks today are taking a hit (but, by the way, as is the entire energy sector, like Exxon-Mobil, although they aren’t taking as big a hit), and I’m sure the solar ETF TAN will sell off substantially, the facts are that unsubsidized solar PV and unsubsidized solar PV+storage are on track to dominate fossil fuels and conventional energy generation, based purely on cost. Adoption will slow, but the areas which have the wisdom to invest in these technologies, even in the absence of incentives, will come out ahead after these Dark Times.

And, especially in a world where people are encouraged to pursue the RCP 8.5 scenario, it’s entirely possibly we’ll hear “bigly” from Nature sooner rather than later. One thing that has changed with the ascendence of the Trumpistas is that this could, unfortunately, in the end be a very good thing, especially if the Midwest United States suffers from it. That’s cruel, but I don’t know how else to knock sense into people. Discussion and politics and other compassionate means obviously do not work. The Trumpistas will no doubt label such events as unfortunate natural occurrences.’

Personal choice and action are more important than ever.

Welcome, by the way, to the zombie apocalypse.

* This is a new view on my part.

Westwood Solar & Energy Fair

Today.

Position yourself to ride the Energy Revolution. Adapt to warming due to human-caused climate change in the Northeast U.S. by changing over your heating and cooling sources. Make Money. Increase the value of your home. Move towards your residential independence from the grid. Have a softer imprint on ecosystems.

How?

Come and find out.

Update, 2016-11-06

Update, 2016-11-07

Why natural gas is a problem for the Massachusetts GWSA

The Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act (“GWSA”) requires that Massachusetts must limit its emissions in four important sectors to less than 80% of emissions in the year 1990 beginning in 2050, and its emissions must decrease year after year beginning from when the law went into effect in 2009. The figure below, based upon just released data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration through December 2014, shows why increasing use of natural gas is a problem for compliance with the GWSA, even if it provides temporary relief by weaning Massachusetts off coal and oil:

(Click on graph to see a bigger picture, and use browser Back Button to return to blog.)
The data are shown in dots, and a smoothing spline is used to interpolate and then extrapolate the trends. The spar (or regularizing coefficient) for the smoothing splines used was always 0.7.

Point update, 2016-11-05, 10:39 EDT
[Due to a question from Paul Lauenstein, I am adding that, apparently, the emissions above include methane emissions from leaks, as the cited page states “These leaks were the source of about 29% of total U.S. methane emissions, but only about 2% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2013”. The latter is a little disingenuous, since in 2013 natural gas was a relative small part of the energy mix and long term it will be larger. But, nevertheless, the chart apparently includes these leaks in its trending for natural gas. Note that if these leaks were to be fixed, to the extent they can be, then the natural gas trendline will be shallower.]

Massachusetts seems to be doing well on its targets, as long as it can keep reductions going, and there isn’t too much uncertainty (“variability behind the scenes”) in the CO2 emissions. Unfortunately, natural gas use is increasing, and at some point, emissions from burning natural gas will predominate in the Commonwealth’s emissions. At that point, natural gas infrastructure will need to be retired if the trend is to continue. None of the existing natural gas infrastructure built in the last decade has built into its price early retirements or accelerated depreciation. I made that point in my testimony from yesterday. Some time around 2030, natural gas is going to have to begin to rapidly go away, to be replaced by zero Carbon sources.

We might as well transition rapidly to zero Carbon source for energy now. Even allocating just a significant fraction of the investments proposed for natural gas infrastructure would yield a great deal of efficiency measures, energy storage, and zero Carbon generation, allowing the Northeast United States and Massachusetts in particular to continue as a champion of clean energy.

Update, 2016-11-04

The choice of spar in the above was somewhat arbitrary, so I re-did the calculation using an evidence-based metric, and penalized spline regression via the R package pspline. The message turns out the same:

(Click on graph to see a bigger picture, and use browser Back Button to return to blog.)

The code, data, and the above figure are available.

Update, 2016-11-06

(Click on graph to see a bigger picture, and use browser Back Button to return to blog.)

Confidence and prediction intervals derived from the U.S. EIA data for Massachusetts overall emissions and natural gas emissions. Intervals were obtained by 3-fold validation, sometimes called 3-fold jackknifing. Essentially all combinations of the 35 data points in each set taken 35-3 or 32 at a time were taken, and splines constructed in each case. These then were each plotted. The draws from the natural gas set were independent of those from the MA emissions set.

A surprise is that the data itself contains suggestions that both MA emissions could increase, and natural gas emissions decrease. Also, the prediction interval densities are strikingly multimodal.

Testimony to MassDEP, M.G.L. chapter 21N, section 3(d) (from the Global Warming Solutions Act)

I testified to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (“MassDEP”) yesterday regarding means of enforcing limits as required by the Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 21N, Section 3(d), otherwise known as (a portion of) the Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act, as recently interpreted by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, in Kain & Others vs the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. Below are my verbal comments, although I presented them ad libitum to keep them shorter, so others would have time to speak. (I was the first one to testify.) I have also submitted written comments which are available as a PDF document here.

Thank you for this opportunity to testify regarding the Global Warming Solutions Act (“GWSA”) and the roles of MassDEP and EER.

I would like to make three points, and I will leave further details and documentation to the
written version of my testimony.

1. Measure emissions, don’t merely accumulate self-reported numbers and project trends.
2. Compliance with GWSA is a large challenge for the Commonwealth. Its management and administration deserves additional people and additional funding. The Department and its allied teams in DPU and DOER should propose such in the next budget cycle.
3. Use the markets, and stop getting in their way when they can help achieve the purposes of the GWSA.

On the ﬁrst point, the 2020 Plan for implementing GWSA as recently clariﬁed by the Supreme Judicial Court continues to only make sense if only goals were being pursued, but not limits. I mean these terms narrowly, in the manner they were used in the SJC case. To assure annual reductions in emissions, assessments of their point-in-time volumes must necessarily take much less than a year to complete. I urge the Deparment to pursue a campaign of scientiﬁcally monitoring emissions independently of its established system of reporting, even if such reports are based upon ANSI standards. Language to support such monitoring activities is in the GWSA itself and in the SJC’s decision. There are several ways this can be done, which I have detailed in my written statement. For example, such a system is in place in California, operated by that state’s EPA and its Air Resources Board. Such measurement is cheaper than onerous life cycle inventories of greenhouse gas emissions and reporting.

On the second point, compliance with GWSA limits is a big job. It is bigger than compliance with mercury reduction two decades ago, when the MassDEP staff was double what it is presently. The legislature cannot seriously expect such enforcement without providing adequate stafﬁng and funding to the Department and its allied teams, DPU and DOER. This administration can begin by proposing additional staff in its budget. The means by which these funds are raised might help nudge us collectively towards the GWSA’s limits. Staff can be thinned as GWSA limits are met.

On the third point, in my opinion, the legislature and the administration are indirectly making the achievement of GWSA limits more difﬁcult. By leaving and sometimes creating obstacles in the way of the markets and technological innovators, they are costing the Department and the Commonwealth more time and treasure than otherwise would be needed to achieve GWSA limits. I speak of the energy revolution which attends the dramatic improvements exempliﬁed by the experience curves for solar PV and storage. While administration and legislature have done much to introduce the Commonwealth to these technologies, and they should be thanked for their efforts, they also support and introduce roadblocks, such as caps on incentivized participation. These impede free market competitive challenges and aggressive innovation, primarily by small companies. The road to the 2050 GWSA limits is made all the much harder by equivocating about how we can continue to use fossil fuels and still decarbonize. No company has the early retirement of their fossil fuel infrastructure on their depreciation schedules.

Thank you for listening.

An example of technology the future will bring … Solpad.

In a recent interview, Professor Tony Seba of Stanford University predicted that solar+storage was going to achieve parity with average grid transmission costs by 2022. This is what he called “god parity”, because even if utilities generated at zero cents per kWh, they could not compete with when energy was available.

Well, today I learned of the second revolutionary technology, after SonnenCommunity, that comes packaged and disruptive, ready to tell utilities and regulatory agencies to Go Away when they become, uh, difficult.

I’m not saying it works. I’m not saying it will win. I don’t know how efficient it is. But it is an example of the kind of high technology competition electric and gas utilities will be facing in the next several years. They are, as I’ve written before, the walking dead. If they want a future, they need to get with the program, and start supporting solar PV+storage in a big way. Otherwise, they deserve the oblivion they deserve, as do all that continue to support them.

Introducing Solpad, the residential microgrid, by SunCulture Solar.

Take that, Elon Musk.

Note that a modular system like Solpad, with its trivial interconnections, threatens to disrupt not only fossil fuel energy, but existing solar installation companies. The simplicity of interconnect might be worth some efficiency loss.