Yesterday at work I overheard part of a consversation that hurt my brain.

Customer: It's so warm today!

Worker 1: Must be global warming.

Worker 2: Global warming isn't real.

Worker 1: Yes, it is.  Go back to school.

Worker 2: Do you believe in God?

Worker 1: Yeah.  Yeah. 

Worker 2:  [looks skeptical]

Worker 1: Yes, I do. Why would I lie about that?

To my great dismay, I missed the part where Worker 2 explains how his belief in God conteracts the Greenhouse Effect.  It kind of shocked me that they would talk about something politicized, like climate change, at work.  I was blown away when Worker 2 brought up God. 

Has anyone else encountered this kind of God-trumps-climate-change thinking?  What do you think the Climate Change Skeptic/Theist would have said next?  For my edification and general amusement, please tell me, how does this work?

Tags: Change, Climate, Global, Warming, change, climate, denial, unprofessional, work

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Then there is the Bull in the China Shop that you have to deal with Transportation.

As your own charts point out, cars, trucks, buses, trains are for the most part run on Hydrocarbon Fuels.  Replacing these millions of vehicles with electric will most likely run into the hundreds of Billions if not Trillions.  In addition there will be an immediate need for a few more Trillions of Kw hours in electrical power production ie. more fusion plants (ie. lots more investment dollars).

AREAIRES, ICAO airline code

As your own charts point out, cars, trucks, buses, trains are for the most part run on Hydrocarbon Fuels.  Replacing these millions of vehicles with electric will most likely run into the hundreds of Billions if not Trillions. 

Americans already replace millions of older vehicles with newer vehicles; costing billions or trillions when spread out over two or three decades. It's worth noting the Tesla Model S is the 2013 Motor Trend car of the year. They're already sold out through 2012. Tesla is selling them as fast as they can make them.

In addition there will be an immediate need for a few more Trillions of Kw hours in electrical power production ie. more fusion plants (ie. lots more investment dollars).

Yes. So where's the problem?

We have about 250 million fuel cars on the road today, next years sales of new cars estimated at 13 to 14 million of primarily fuel cars.

Tesla has 6,500 pre-orders not really a candidate for changing out 250 million fuel cars.

Yes. So where's the problem?

Money, money, money, where's the money going to come from?

Tesla has 6,500 pre-orders not really a candidate for changing out 250 million fuel cars.

Henry Ford sold 19,000 Model-T cars in 1910. Hardly a candidate for replacing millions of horse-drawn carriages and buggies. 

(ie. lots more investment dollars). Money, money, money, where's the money going to come from?

Money comes from the U.S Federal Reserve. We make it; literally. But let's assume we'd prefer not to print more, or not count on capitol from private investing. The latter would would be odd considering investing is a popular cornerstone of capitalism.

We could end the billion dollar corporate welfare program for Big Oil, and save billions more on health care associated with pollution, and billions more on the cost of dealing with climate change, billions more on the cost of defending pipelines and shipping lanes for oil, and billions more on supporting a national infrastructure designed for cheap oil.

Where does all that money come from? If we eliminate or mitigate the need to spend it that way, why can't it be spent elsewhere?

Then there is the Bull in the China Shop that you have to deal with Transportation.

As your own charts point out, cars, trucks, buses, trains are for the most part run on Hydrocarbon Fuels.  Replacing these millions of vehicles with electric will most likely run into the hundreds of Billions if not Trillions.  In addition there will be an immediate need for a few more Trillions of Kw hours in electrical power production ie. more fusion plants (ie. lots more investment dollars).

It is more than the bull in the china shop, it's the elephant in the room.

Unfortunately no current existing battery technology can possibly replace gasoline for anything but short trips... and you'd better live in a warm climate, too, as batteries don't like the cold (there is a reason GM tested their EV car in LA and Phoenix).  Also, making batteries is very much a chemical industry with all the attendant pollution it entails.  And it depends on rare minerals.  Most lithium comes from Bolivia, for example.  And notice the price of the cars... and the word is not in on how often you will end up having to replace all the batteries (thousands of dollars all at once) because they are worn out from being cycled over and over.

GM actually loses money on every Volt it sells in spite of heavy federal subsidies and a high price tag: http://www.nbcnews.com/business/gm-losing-much-49-000-volt-sold-989680 (please note this is NBC news, not the "right wing" media).  The correct sticker price for this car to recoup production costs is upwards of 89 thousand dollars.

Until batteries last longer, hold much more charge per unit weight, don't lose half their power just because it's cold, and recharge quickly, they will only be useful in certain niches.
But here is an idea that is somewhat interesting.  What if fusion power were used to take CO2 out of the air, combine it with water, and produce.... gasoline!  (Or methanol.  Or propane.)  This would take a LOT of energy to do, but we are assuming plentiful fusion power, right?  Burning this gasoline would not increase CO2 levels in the atmosphere, because the carbon in the gasoline came from the atmosphere in the first place!
Of course there is one tiny problem with that--fusion power is probably even further off than a battery that doesn't suck.  It's estimated that it's 30 years off.  Well that has been the estimate since the 1970s!  So I am afraid I won't believe it until ten years afterwards when they are calling for it to be around in only 20 more years.
Gallup's Mirror has called for a Manhattan project for Fusion power.  I would maintain that we already have one.  The Manhattan Project cost about 2 billion dollars, that's 26 billion in today's dollars.  The total amount of money spent on fusion research over the last 57 years of it being only 30 years away, is 29 billion (or more:  http://focusfusion.org/index.php/site/reframe/373 these folks seem uncertain about their inflation adjustment, but they are sure they want to see more money spent).   We have already spent more on fusion research than was spent on the Manhattan Project, and it is STILL 30 years away.
It's still worth pursuing both better batteries and fusion power... but I wouldn't hold my breath waiting.for either of them.
On the other hand, there is always the chance of an unexpected breakthrough in one or both of these categories.  No, I don't know what it would be--it would be unexpected after all.  The one thing I do know is that doing no research at all would be the wrong thing to do.

Yep, elephant.

I'm glad you opened the battery can-o-worms, I didn't want to add that one into an already crowded mix.

But your are correct sir, that is indeed another missing piece of the puzzle.

Unfortunately no current existing battery technology can possibly replace gasoline for anything but short trips...

The Tesla Model S with an 85 kWh battery pack has an EPA tested range of 265 miles. The technology is improving rapidly enough to expect batteries within another decade capable of going much longer distances.

But that doesn't matter. Electric cars can be engineered with removable batteries, so you'd stop at a battery swapping station instead of a gas station. Then the only range limitation is the availability of those stations. Somebody's going to make a lot of money on them.

and you'd better live in a warm climate, too, as batteries don't like the cold (there is a reason GM tested their EV car in LA and Phoenix). 

Or you could integrate a heating element into the battery. 

Also, making batteries is very much a chemical industry with all the attendant pollution it entails.

A zero-emission vehicle produces a net result of significantly less pollution over its usable lifetime than the pollution involved in making the car and the battery for it. Electric cars also last longer because they're extremely simple machines compared with motor cars. The engine in the Tesla is the size of a watermelon and has 5 moving parts.

And it depends on rare minerals. Most lithium comes from Bolivia, for example. 

Chile, Australia, and China produce the most lithium, and Chile has the largest known reserves in the world.   

And notice the price of the cars... and the word is not in on how often you will end up having to replace all the batteries (thousands of dollars all at once) because they are worn out from being cycled over and over.

Tesla estimates an average battery life of seven years, noting that frequently topping off the battery charge significantly increases its lifespan. The Tesla Roadster battery costs $12,000 pre-purchased. Driving 40 miles daily for seven years or 102,200 miles equates to a battery consumption cost of US $0.1174 per mile or $4.70 per 40 miles. 

It's worth noting those estimates are based on battery technology that is four years old, and battery cost has been decreasing rapidly while efficiency and lifespan are increasing rapidly.

GM actually loses money on every Volt it sells in spite of heavy federal subsidies and a high price tag: http://www.nbcnews.com/business/gm-losing-much-49-000-volt-sold-989680 (please note this is NBC news, not the "right wing" media).  The correct sticker price for this car to recoup production costs is upwards of 89 thousand dollars.

The average home PC in 1990 cost $2000 dollars and contained a 12 MHz (not Ghz) 386 processor, 4 megabytes of RAM, Windows 3.0, and didn't have a modem, network card, video card, CD drive, or sound card. Technology advances and prices come down with economies of scale.

Of course there is one tiny problem with that--fusion power is probably even further off than a battery that doesn't suck.  It's estimated that it's 30 years off.  Well that has been the estimate since the 1970s!  So I am afraid I won't believe it until ten years afterwards when they are calling for it to be around in only 20 more years. [...] We have already spent more on fusion research than was spent on the Manhattan Project, and it is STILL 30 years away.
Fusion power is already here, Steve. It works. The challenge is not about making it work but rather making it work on a larger scale. The smaller models work but they don't produce a net energy output. But the net energy output improves when the reactor is larger. The engineering challenge is learning to build fusion reactors on a scale large enough to get a net energy output.  
The one thing I do know is that doing no research at all would be the wrong thing to do.

Agreed. Right now the ITER project seems grossly underfunded considering the great promise and revolutionary potential of fusion power. 

Are we talking of 500 billion dollars a year, or just 500 billion in total - spread across ten years that might not be too painful...

Are we talking of 500 billion dollars a year, or just 500 billion in total - spread across ten years that might not be too painful...

The Manhattan Project took 4 years, 130,000 people, and $26 billion (in today's dollars) to produce nuclear power and nuclear weapons. 

I randomly chose a hypothetical $500 billion cost to develop fusion power in ten years. That's in comparison to the actual 15 billion Euro ($19 billion US) budget for the international ITER fusion project in France, which started in 1985 to last  30 years.

500 B against 70 T is .7 not .1.

I really need to stop doing the math in my head while I type.

That's correct but irrelevant. The point is that the cost of a 'Manhattan Project' approach to fusion power is nominal compared to spending on other national priorities. Note the $500 billion is still a fraction of US spending on defense, foreign wars, and Bush's tax cuts. 

Let's talk about how many Kilowatt hours your 500 B investment represents. The US uses around 4T Kw's per year, about 3T of this is Hydrocarbon Fuel, so the question is;  How much of this is your 500 B dollar investment going to replace?

It wouldn't be "my" $500 billion investment. It would be an investment for every American who lives while the United States exists and benefits from fusion power. For the sake of the model you're proposing, let's be pessimistic and assume the United States only exists for another 250 years. Thus we're talking about an investment for billions of Americans, present and future, not just for me. 

Let's also assume in constructing our model that $500 billion in ten years produces a commercial-grade fusion reactor with an output of 2 gigawatts.

The answer to your question then is: as much as possible, as quickly as possible. 

How much do you think each 2 gigawatt reactor will cost to build?

You will need 500 of them to replace the 3T Kw currently being produced by Hydrocarbon Fuels.

For the sake of argument let's say that we can built a 2GW fusion plant for $20 B @ 500 plants that's $10 T.  Not an insurmountable problem but still a very large one and that's just the US.

It still remains a global problem requiring a global solution with a very short window before it becomes an insurmountable problem.

Given the history of humankind I am very doubtful that we will see a solution before the SHTF day.

How much do you think each 2 gigawatt reactor will cost to build?

Well, that's the burning question. The truth is that it's educated guesswork at this point. But for the sake of this exercise let's take a stab at it. 

ITER cost $20 billion but they started from the drawing board which is more expensive than duplication. The average cost of a new (conventional) nuclear power plant is $5 billion to $9 billion, with half going to financing. 

Note that the 2 gigawatt output would be from the prototype. The 2 gigawatt figure was chosen because it's comparable to the output of a conventional power plant. To that end the prototype fusion reactor essentially would be a box which contains a star the size of a gumdrop.

Subsequent larger models could produce significantly more energy; the net energy output increases with size, although it's not clear how far this goes. But say for an (admittedly thin air) example the box contains a 'star' the size of an orange and produces 20 gigawatts. 

That makes the cost estimate very tough. You might need fewer plants that cost more, or maybe a larger reactor wouldn't cost all that more. But let's assume the lower end of the energy output and the higher end of the cost of building a conventional nuclear reactor: 2 gigawatts @ $9 billion.  

For the sake of argument let's say that we can built a 2GW fusion plant for $20 B @ 500 plants that's $10 T.  Not an insurmountable problem but still a very large one and that's just the US.

Plug the revised figures into your estimate: 500 plants @ $9 billion each. That's $4.5 trillion. Let's say we build twenty plants per year and spread the cost over 25 years. That's $180 billion per year. (Check my math. I did that in my head again!)

The capital cost is the biggest challenge. Once built, the operating costs of the plant are small: cheap electricity. Then build a power grid that spans the continent or the globe, not unlike the global internet, and export electricity as a commodity.   

It still remains a global problem requiring a global solution with a very short window before it becomes an insurmountable problem. Given the history of humankind I am very doubtful that we will see a solution before the SHTF day.

I agree it's highly unlikely any of this will happen quickly. But I do think it'll happen slowly. I don't know how much difference those 50 or 100 years will make to the planet.

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