Monday, November 21, 2011

Climate related comments elsewhere

At Same Facts, James Wimberley continues to do a good job IMHO of defending the "solar on track to be cheaper than coal" idea. I wrote:

What I’d be most interested in knowing is the rate of starts for new coal power plants, especially in countries with no local coal supplies (therefore no coal lobby). A new plant takes a couple years to build and 30-50 years to pay off, so [Efficient Market Hypothesis] (if accurate) would expect to see a significant dropoff for these.

At Nature, on a post about whether mastodons got stuck in post-earthquake mud and starved over a period of months, I skepticized:

I follow climate change denialism closely, so I'm very suspicious when non-experts proclaim themselves to be personally incredulous regarding a conclusion by experts. 
That said, as a non-expert, I am personally incredulous that partially submerged mammoths couldn't pull themselves out of the soil when liquefaction had ended. 
Tar pits I can believe. Full submersion and immediate suffocation I can believe. But being stuck in one spot and slowly starving to death without being able to pull their legs out of the soil, is something that needs to be a little more convincing. Maybe they need to a mechanical analysis of soil strength and compare it to an elephant's strength.

Sure felt like an article I would read on April Fool's Day, but what do I know. (UPDATE:  the teeming hordes of pro-stuck-mammoth factionalists attack in the comments, all two of them, and I guess they have a point.)

Finally, not a comment but a link to an interesting NY Times article on growing crops underneath trees.  No mention of albedo issues from trees being darker than typical ag, though.


EliRabett said...

Crops under trees = coffee and tea. What is not to like?:) (Yes, you can grow them in full sun also . . .:(

On new coal fired power plants try this

Tom Curtis said...

As a non-expert on elephant (or mammoths) getting stuck, I am incredulous about your incredulity. As I understand it, elephants frequently get stuck in mud holes. Like horses, they have difficulty extricating themselves because their legs provide very poor leverage in that situation. Hence, a similar scenario for mammoths given liquifaction of the mud by an earthquake is entirely plausible:

J Bowers said...

The hackers have done it again. Just before Durban. What a coincidence. Freedom of information? My arse.

J Bowers said...

I say the hackers have done it again. Of course, the self-declared sceptics are just publishing them on face value.

Holly Stick said...

Yeah, the other shoe has dropped. The Guardian suggests the new emails are from the same group of stolen ones since there are no recent emails.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.

You know what's funny is that coal is a newer technology than solar but you joyfully rely on the stupidity of your readers. Class, there was an invention called the sun dial you might want to research. For you see, we have known about wind and solar for far longer than we've known about coal. What do we have to show for it? 0-1%. That's how much of the worlds energy comes from solar, 0-1%. Nice job, Eli.

Mark said...

From Wikipedia: "Outcrop coal was used in Britain during the Bronze Age (3000–2000 BC), where it has been detected as forming part of the composition of funeral pyres."

Add history to the ever-growing list of things you know nothing about.

J Bowers said...

Coal's been used as fuel thousands of years (look up Theophrastus). I never saw a sun dial that heated water.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Jay Cadbury

@J Bowers and Mark

Really, Mark? Coal came before the sundial? Apparently you're the one with a severe case of down syndrome. J Bowers I don't really care about because I know he's a Romm Bot and is probably paid to hype the hoax.

Anonymous said...

I never saw a sun dial that heated water.

Place one glass of cool to cold water on a sundial in (preferably) sunny weather. Wait a suitable length of time. Result ... ;-) (but I know what you mean).

Oh, and BTW ... apparently, so I heard once, the Ancient Egyptians (~3 Ma) used the shadow from an obelisk to partition the day(time) into two parts. A proto-sundial? Pre-dating Theophrastus's use of coal somewhat.

But as to first coal use, that was probably in Bronze Age China (~3 Ma), though most of the rest of the world probably used charcoal and/or peat at that time for their metallurgical needs. Domestic heating use? Who knows?!

So we are probably talking near-contemporaneous use of coal and the proto-sundial.

Cymraeg llygoden

J Bowers said...

Accused of being someone I'd never even heard of and twice accused of being paid, all today. "If only", on the latter.

Shorter JC -- "Duh, I didn't know coal was used for fuel since at least the time of the ancient Greeks."

I see he's dumped the PhD, bit.

J Bowers said...

Cymraeg llygoden -- "Oh, and BTW ... apparently, so I heard once, the Ancient Egyptians (~3 Ma) used the shadow from an obelisk to partition the day(time) into two parts. A proto-sundial?"

If you're gonna do it, do it big. Just look at those Egyptian pointy-hat boxes.

Russell said...

Dumb bunnies notwithstanding, Fossil clinker deposits attest that coal fires lit by brush and forest fires have been smouldering in North America since at least 4,000,000 BC, and must have greeted the first human arrivals here,

Of course, since mammoths stuck in earthquake mud make fine gnomons, who can deny that glyptodonts may have abandoned their study of metallurgy to use them to tell time?

Dr Idiot, PHD said...

Well I think the fact that the Sundial was invented before coal was found is obvious evidence that Coal power is superior to solar power and that climate change is a hoax.

David B. Benson said...

Plenty of evidence of mastodons mired in mudholes and expiring in western North America and Siberia. Don't know about the liquification part.

Richard Mercer said...

"I'd put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don't have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that."

Thomas Edison

Brian said...

Tom and David - okay, good evidence that elephants can get stuck in mud, so you've overcome a big chunk of my incredulity. That these particular mammoths were 1. caught by an earthquake and 2. survived being stuck in mud for months before dying in place still seems hard to swallow.

Marion Delgado said...

Never know what you'll find Eli, when I did a guest post on Ibsen and climate change on Greenfyre's I found out that there is some sort of low-level Shakespeare controversy about Ibsen in Denmark. Perhaps.

Anonymous said...

Eli: Crops under trees = coffee and tea. What is not to like?:)

I'm all for intercroping. How about wind & solar?

Pete Dunkelberg

Anonymous said...

Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.

Can I just offer you all an alternative to accomplishing your goals? Ditch the co2 argument and focus on pollution. Nobody likes soot, smog and smoke. If you all focus on pollution reduction, you will be much more successful and a side effect of the benefit will be a smaller carbon footprint. The problem with the co2 argument is that there just isn't very much in the atmosphere, historically. And the argument has been to frame it within the timeframe of humanity. You might prefer this timeframe but it is a huge confirmation bias. The historical record devastates the co2 warming theory. That is all, have a nice thanksgiving.

NnN said...

Dr Cadbury, like most skeptics on this matter you couldn't be more wrong.

The period 500 million or so years ago that you guys often cite was too long ago to be of any relevance.

Life on Earth today is adapted for near present conditions. We can probably safely assume life is at least adapted to the range and rates of changes typified by interglacial and glacial periods, simply by virtue of any species not so adapted would have already been wiped out.

But both CO2 and temperature threaten to go far above this range in the near future, taking us back to the Miocene or even the Eocene.

If this happened over a million of years it *might* not be so bad. A bulk of species might be able to adapt on that timescale. But switching the climate like this in mere centuries is really asking for trouble. Notwithstanding the potential warming, in the case of elevating CO2 levels so fast the oceans don't have enough time to buffer the change and the resulting pH drop threatens to be one the sharpest this planet has ever seen.

So I for one reject your offer as not being thought out properly. I recommend you familiarize yourselves with the geological data a bit more and consider how recent changes contrast with it.

Brian said...

I disagree with Jay about dropping the CO2 argument, but OTOH, if he's willing to support efforts to reduce fossil fuel pollution, then I'm happy with that. I'll take any support wherever I can find it.

Anonymous said...

Well, I have no idea about mammoths but I'm aware that bears can be highly adept at getting out of quicksand.


J Bowers said...

Leaked climate emails force carbon dioxide to resign