Thursday, March 26, 2015

Rest of World Is Past Peak Oil (*)

Here is world oil production per capita, in barrels per person per year. The green curve includes US oil production and population, and the red line omits them. It seems only US production is keeping the world above Peak Oil(*).

* I don't think it's quite this simple, though, because if the US hadn't increased its production in recent years, other countries, most notably Saudi Arabia, might have stepped up their production to keep the red curve reasonably flat after 2006. And other countries might have taken up fracking more than they have, even though it's controversial. I'd suspect they probably will do more fracking, more than they are already, if oil production starts to seriously decline.

data sources:
monthly oil production, by country and for the world
World Population
US Population

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Californians, Lawns and God

"I believe it is a God-given right as Californians to be able to water gardens and lawns."

-- Diane Feinstein, Democratic Senator from California, as quoted in the Sacramento Bee, November 21, 2004.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Patrick Moore Bravely Comes Out Against a World with "no carbon dioxide"

Patrick Moore is back, writing for the Heartland Institute, with gems like this:
The IPCC’s followers have given us a vision of a world dying because of carbon-dioxide emissions. I say the Earth would be a lot deader with no carbon dioxide, and more of it will be a very positive factor in feeding the world. 
Except not a single soul is arguing there should be no carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The Heartland Institute is really scraping the bottom of the barrel these days....

And it seems Moore missed this bit of science about CO2 and food: "Wheat's Nutritive Value Decreases Under Elevated CO2."

N.b: Patrick, there is no hyphen in "carbon dioxide." Jeez.

Science Image of the Day

"Yet animal experiments support the idea that light is protective. Researchers first demonstrated
this in chicks, a common lab model for studying vision. By fitting chicks with goggles that alter the resolution and contrast of incoming images, it is possible to induce the development of myopia while raising the birds under controlled conditions in which only light intensity is changed."

- from "The myopia boom," Elie Dolgin, Nature 3/18/15

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Climate Scientists Should Not Be Drawing Up Carbon Divestment Principles

I think this is a huge mistake:

They include academics at Oxford, Imperial College London and Harvard.

Prof Myles Allen, of Oxford University, said the move was similar to principles governing investment in South Africa under apartheid in the 1980s.

"This is a challenging question being put to universities," he told BBC News.

"We have the opportunity here to think about the most constructive approach to the divestment issue."
This will exponentially increase the concerns and crys about scientists having conflicted positions and a financial stake in the outcome of their science.

Amazingly, the BBC reporter didn't even broach this idea.

Large positions in carbon-free investment vehicles has already led to the marginalization of Al Gore. Now it will spread.

And frankly, I can't really blame anyone for thinking that about a scientist drawing up "investment principles." By participating in such discussions, they are invariably going to have (or appear to have) the inside track on who might adopt those principles -- mutual funds, retirement accounts, banks, etc. That gives them the opportunity to quietly shift their personal investments in response to that knowledge, and whether they do or not, whether they say they do or do not, it will raise suspicisions, and thus suspicions about their science.

Nor do climate scientists have the expertise to draw up investment "principles." That's for bankers, economists, investment houses, individual investors. What do they need to know besides "we need to eliminate CO2 emissions?" They're in a much better position to make decisions about how to most efficiently make that transition. I'm sure they have smart people who can do the energy and CO2 calculations.

This throws gasoline on a roaring fire, and in the US at least it will be used by opponents of action on climate change. And frankly I can't blame them one bit, insofar as it involves any scientists work on these divestment plans. (And it will give rise to suspicisons about all other climate scientists too, regardless of their nonparticipation in such efforts.)

I just don't get this at all.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Marijuana's Carbon Footprint

The article "When It Comes To Energy, Indoor Marijuana Isn’t Green" on Talking Points Memo says
Image result for indoor pot growBy some estimates, indoor marijuana cultivation is accountable for producing some 15 million metric tons of carbon emissions annually—the equivalent to the amount of emissions produced by three million American cars. Put another way, one single kilogram of processed marijuana is responsible for the same amount of emissions as driving a 44 mpg car across the country five times. How can this be? It’s due in most part to the significant amount of electricity required to grow marijuana indoors.
Since there are now 320 million Americans, the first number comes to 0.05 ton CO2/person/year.

The second set of numbers gives, with 2900 miles between San Francisco and New York at 44 mpg, gasoline usage of 330 gallons. Since gasoline emits 8.92e-3 t CO2/gallon, that comes to 2.94 t CO2 per kilogram of pot, or 0.08 t CO2 per ounce, or 2,940 grams CO2/gram-of-pot*.

An ounce of pot is about 28 joints, so pot's carbon footprint is 2,980 g CO2/joint.

American per capita emissions are now 17.0 t CO2/yr, so a joint's footprint is 1.5 hours of per capita emissions*.

Assuming the entire event lasts for more than an hour and a half, you're reducing your carbon footprint by smoking. (If it comes from an indoor grow.)

To that you need to add the carbon footprint of a couple of bags of Doritos, and most of a day's worth of television, but hopefully you can subtract out the driving.

These numbers also imply Americans are partaking of 5,100 tons of indoor-pot per year, or an average of 16 indoor-joints/person/yr*. Which isn't obviously unbelievable.

Some, of course, more than others.  

* If I did the math correctly. Corrections welcome.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

America Needs 4.68 Americas to Support Its Lifestyle

An Oregonian article about the future of farming quotes a digital image seller:
"...the American middle class enjoys a lifestyle that needs 33 global acres per person."
The Popclock says we now consist of 320,544,000 people, so we need 10.58 billion acres to support our lifestyle.

Unfortunately, America has only 3,531,905 square miles of land area, which is 2.26 billion acres.

So it takes 4.68 Americas to support the lifestyle of all Americans.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Gov. Rick Scott Also Not an Accountant

"Now climate change is perhaps the most important long-term issue the next American president will have to deal with. Our international enemies will come and go; our deficits will rise and fall. But if the atmosphere keeps getting clogged with greenhouse gases, future generations will be too busy with the floods and droughts to care.

"If you were seriously thinking about running for president of the United States, wouldn’t this be something you’d want to have studied up on? Have you ever heard anybody say he couldn’t comment on tax policy because he wasn’t an accountant?"

-- Gail Collins, NY Times, March 13, 2015