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Reduce CO2 and Slow Global Warming?

Willem Post's picture
President Willem Post Energy Consuling

Willem Post, BSME'63 New Jersey Institute of Technology, MSME'66 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, MBA'75, University of Connecticut. P.E. Connecticut. Consulting Engineer and Project Manager....

  • Member since 2018
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  • Apr 30, 2012

People have been concerned about what global warming, GW, may do to their future well-being for at least the past 50 years. Governments and academia responded by performing studies to identify the causes and holding international meetings to get agreement on future actions.


Current annual spending has risen to about $200 billion to implement reductions of fossil fuel combustion and increases of renewable energy, RE; a very small percentage of the world’s gross product, GWP, of about $70 trillion. 


Considering the magnitude of the problem, this spending would need to increase to 5 to 10 percent of GWP. Germany, a rich nation, is the only nation that spends about 2% of its GDP on renewable energy and energy efficiency.


Global Climate: The world’s climate is affected by combinations of major factors, such as variations of: 


– the earth’s tilt angle and elliptical orbit. 

– cosmic and solar radiation. 

– snow and ice coverage. 

– aerosols, greenhouse gases and soot from manmade activities

– greenhouse gases and soot from volcanic activities, 

– greenhouse gases from plant decay, frozen tundra melting, etc.

– ocean current directions and ocean temperatures.

– urbanization and agricultural land use. 

– refrigerant gases from air-conditioning units. See note.


NOTE: If CO2 heat trapping effect is set at 1, then HCFC = 1810, HFC-410a = 2088, HFC-32 = 675, HFO-123yf = 4, R-600a = 3.


NOTE: The Montreal Protocol, effective 1 January, 1989, deals with protecting the ozone layer, not GW.

These factors have different time constants. For example, it takes many years to increase and decrease the average temperature of the oceans, to build up and melt the polar ice caps, etc.


Additional factors are various cyclic events, such as the 1,000 year cycle; the Roman Warm Period, the Medieval Warm Period and the Present Warm Period are 1,000 years apart and each coincided with strong solar activity, whereas the in-between periods, the cold Dark Ages and the Little Ice Age, LIA, coincided with weak solar activity. Other cycles are the 210-year, 87-year and 11-year solar cycles, and the 60-year Pacific Oscillation. 


To more or less ignore these factors and assign all or most of the GW to CO2 ppm is simplistic, i.e., not good science. The resulting opportunistic scare-mongering regarding GW and climate change, CC, by RE promoters has lead to hasty, ill-advised, expensive, inefficient RE policies and buildouts. Germany’s foray into PV solar comes to mind.


Glacier Shortening Rate UNAFFECTED by CO2: Here is an article showing the LOWEST glacier shortening RATE was in the late 1700s – early 1800s (the coldest period of the Little Ice Age), and the shortening RATE has been steadily INCREASING since then, even though WORLD coal was barely used until the LATE 1800s, and WORLD oil was barely used until about 1940, and WORLD gas was barely used until about 1950.

See Figures 2 and 3 of this URL

Figure 3 shows temperature correlates with the sun, not CO2.

This article is well worth some study. It should be widely distributed before the Paris meetings in 2015.,1518,813814,00.html,1518,813814-2,00.html 


The sun dominates the world’s climate. Its varying energy intercepted by the earth each year is more than 12,000 times greater than what mankind consumes each year. The sun’s energy causes daily water vapor additions to the atmosphere about 24,000 times greater than mankind’s water vapor additions, primarily from fossil-based combustion; the vapor additions are removed by precipitation each day. 


The GW contribution of water vapor, CO2 and other GW gases in the atmosphere is about 95%, 3.6% and 1.2%, respectively, i.e., changes in CO2 ppm have minor impact on the world average temperature, WAT, compared to changes of water vapor. 


Water vapor’s contribution to GW remains unchanged, if the water vapor in the atmosphere remains unchanged. If the average temperature of the atmosphere increases, its average water vapor content will increase.


Water vapor, a GW gas, is invisible, whereas cloud cover consists mostly of water droplets/ice crystals and cold air with relatively little water vapor. Cloud cover acts more as an umbrella and less as a global warmer. If regions have increased cloud cover, they become cooler in summer and warmer in winter. Particulates, natural and manmade, act as nuclei for forming water droplets/ice crystals that results in increased cloud formation.




The WAT has been on a plateau for about 17 years. Dr. Pachauri, Chairman of International Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, confirmed it in Febrary 2012. The climate models of the IPCC had predicted a warming of 0.2 C between 2000 and 2010 and another 0.2 C by 2020, but since 1997, this warming has not taken place.


Here is a graph showing the predicted WATs by more than 25 climate models from 1979, when much more accurate satellite measurements began, compared with the real world temperature change till 2013. The average rise of all models is about 1.0 C, whereas the real world rise was 0.2 C, id est, ALL models on which the IPCC based its conclusions are deeply flawed.

The IPCC has not provided an explanation. Because of inadequate reporting by the mass media, most people are not aware the WAT has not increased during the past 17 years.


Below is a graph of a large number of WAT predictions by scientists, based on 73 computer models, which shows the predicted WAT rise was 1.30 C for the period 1978-2012.


But, based on the more accurate balloon and satellite measurements, the WAT rise was only 0.25 C, about 1/5 of the prediction, and that there was no WAT rise for the period 1996-2013, 17 years, even though atmospheric CO2 ppm increased.


NOTE: Temperature forecasting record of the IPCC: Computerized climate models have consistently overestimated the increase in the world average temperature BY A LARGE MARGIN for decades. See URL.


Note: The IPCC is NOT a scientific entity that performs independent research, but a diverse collection of government representatives, NGOs (such as Greenpeace) and mostly pro-RE scientists. There may be serious concern about neutrality, objectivity and quality of IPCC reports. 


The troposphere composition has significantly changed from what it was in the early 1900s mainly due to the smog (particulates, CO2, NOx, SOx, aerosols) from coal-fired power production, transportation and industry. 


In the early 1900s, smog was regional, such as in the Ruhr area of Germany, or above large cities, such as Paris, London and New York. At present, it entirely surrounds the world, especially the Northern Hemisphere which experienced the greatest regional warming.


The stratosphere composition has also significantly changed from what it was in the early 1900s mainly due to the smog of high altitude air transportation. Contrails of airplanes spread to form thin veils of smog layers, especially in heavily-travelled air routes. The smog layers may have a net cooling effect.


That the WAT is not increasing at a greater rate may be primarily due to increased smog, cloud and aerosol formation resulting from increased pollution from the US, Europe and Japan, and, during the last 40 years, also from the developing nations, such as China, India and Brazil. The continually increasing smog, cloud and aerosol formation acts as an umbrella, a global cooler that offsets some of the GW that might otherwise occur. 


Volcanic Eruptions Cause Global Cooling: The sulfuroxides, SOx, emissions and particulates from major volcanic eruptions have a short-term cooling effect that partially offsets other GW factors. 


Example: The volcano Krakatoa erupted in 1883 and continued to emit SOx and particulates for several years. In the year following the eruption, average global temperatures fell by as much as 1.2 C (2.2 F). The temperature drop occurred within about 12 months, whereas the WAT has increased about 1.0 C since about 1850.


Weather patterns continued to be chaotic for years and temperatures did not return to normal until 1888, because by then the SOx and particulates had settled on the surface of the earth, including snow and ice surfaces. It was the volcanic emissions and additional cloud formation that caused the sudden global cooling. The particulate emissions from the eruption caused increased melting of snow and ice surfaces for at least 5 years.


This melting may have triggered a longer-lasting, positive feedback, as it reduced snow- and ice-covered areas, which led to increased absorption and decreased reflection of solar energy, especially in the Arctic.


Manmade particulate deposits on snow and ice surfaces during the past 150 years have caused additional melting of snow and ice and a rising sea level. The SOx (uncontrolled) and particulate emissions (poorly controlled) from Chinese coal plants will have a cooling effect until China, etc., run out of coal in about 100 years. By then, it is likely China, etc., will have hundreds of nuclear plants on line.




The current ice age started about 2.5 million years ago and has NOT ended. Ice ages have warming (melting) periods and cooling (glaciation) periods. The melting phase of the last major glaciation period began about 15,000 years ago. Before the melting started the WAT was about 11.5 C. 


By about 10,000 years ago, this melting phase had ended, ice sheets that were about a mile thick had mostly melted, i.e., shrunk in surface area and thickness, rocky surfaces, bolders and sand layers were exposed and top soil could eventually begin to form as fauna and flora spread to these areas.


During the past 10,000 years, there have been 7 warming periods with increasing WATs and 7 cooling periods with decreasing WATs. During the two Holocene Climate Optima (warming periods), 8,000 to 6,000 and 4,800 to 3,600 years ago, the WAT peaked at about 16 C; some areas were 1.5 C to 5 C warmer than the WAT, others cooler.  


During the RWP, the WAT peaked at about 15.7 C

During the MWP, the WAT peaked at about 15.6 C.

During the PWP, it is about 15.5 C. 


Between the RWP and the MWP was a moderate warming period that coincided with the Dark Ages. 

Between the MWP and the PWP was the LIA from about 1450 to 1850. 

Note: LIA is a misnomer, as it was merely a glaciation period within the present ice age. 




Temperature records show, the world started to come out of the LIA in the late 1700s.

Note: The CO2 ppm was not a factor, because it did not rise until the late 1800s.


By about 1850, the LIA negative temperature anomaly became zero and became positive in subsequent years, as it had done about 7 times during the past 10,000 years without there being a significant change in CO2 ppm The PWP may last another 100 to 200 years before it reaches its peak. During that time, there will be additional GW and CC. 


About 50% of the temperature rise since about 1960 is assumed to be due to various manmade effects, including increased urbanization, changes in land use, CO2 ppm increases, etc. 


The other 50% is due to coming out of the LIA. As manmade factors become more dominant, the percentages may become 60% manmade, 40% natural; 70% manmade, 30% natural, etc.


The continuously increasing particulate emissions from coal combustion, especially from the coal combustion with inadequately controlled particulate and SOx emissions in China, India, Brazil, etc., during the past 40 years, have a much greater and much quicker GW effect than the increase in CO2 ppm, especially in the Arctic which has warmed more than any other area of the world.


If present melting trends continue, around 2015-2016, the Arctic float-ice will be mostly gone in summer, ie., the “refrigerator of the North”, till now a climate stabilizer, is shrinking. The Northern Hemisphere temperatures and climate will change. The shrinking refrigerator of the North is a positive feedback on GW that is unstoppable. 


Even if mankind were to instantly disappear, the current GW momentum and the ongoing/strengthening positive feedbacks would be playing out over at least a century or longer.


Global Warming is Not Uniform: GW is mostly a Northern Hemisphere phenomenon, especially in the Arctic. Both hemispheres have been in a flat or slight cooling trend since about 1995.


During the PWP, the earth has warmed since about 1850, but not uniformly. On average, the warming was about 0.3 C from the Antarctic to about 20 degrees north of the Equator, about 1.0 C from about 20 to 60 degrees North, and about 2.6 C from 80 degrees North to 90 degrees North. 


After satellite measurements started in 1979, the WAT anomaly (the deviation from long-term temperature trends) changed from -0.23 C in 1979 to +0.18 C at end 2011, for a total change of 0.41 C, or about 0.14 C/decade, of which at least 50% is assumed to be due to manmade effects, including increased urbanization, changes in land use, and CO2 ppm increases. 


Since 1979, the Northern Hemisphere warmed an average of about 0.5 C, the Southern Hemisphere about 0.10 C, and the tropics showed no warming. 


Since 1960, the Arctic has warmed the most of the world’s regions, and Antarctica has warmed the least, according to NASA data.

CO2 Concentration and WAT Variations: About 10,000 years ago the atmospheric CO2 was about 265 ppm. About 5,500 years ago it started a steady rise to about 285 ppm by about 1850, after which it started a steep rise to 350 ppm in 1990 (the Kyoto base year) and to 389 ppm in 2011, as measured at Mauna Loa, Hawaii. From 5,500 to 150 years ago, the CO2 varied about 10 ppm, even during the LIA. 


During those 10,000 years, there were 7 warm periods, such as the MWP, and 7 cold periods, such as the LIA, while the CO2 ppm varied little, i.e., other interacting climate forcing factors were influencing the WAT.




The below study describes the increased global warming and sea level rise due to increased coal combustion in developing nations.




At present, Germany is the only nation that has announced it will accelerate the redirecting of its economy towards RE. Germany spends about 2 percent of its $3.5 trillion GDP on RE and energy efficiency. The expensive RE has significantly increased household and business electricity costs in the past few years.


Temporary Measures: As a temporary measure to alleviate the energy production and transmission constraints of shutting down CO2-free nuclear plants, German utilities and private investors have plans to construct, modernize and place in operation by about 2020 a total of 84 power plants ,with a total capacity of about 42,000 MW, at an estimated capital cost of about $80 billion. The net effect will be a significant increase in Germany’s CO2 emissions.


The plans include:


– 23 new offshore wind turbine plants; 7,200 MW 

– 29 new gas turbine plants, primarily for balancing wind energy; 11,500 MW

– 17 new coal plants, primarily for base-load; 17,500 MW

– 10 new pumped storage plants, primarily for storing nighttime wind energy for daytime use; 5,000 MW


The estimated capital cost of new plants would be:


Wind offshore: 7,200 MW x $4,200,000 /MW = $30.25 billion

Gas: 11,500 MW x $1,300,000/MW = $15 billion

Coal: 17,500 MW x $2,000,000/MW= $35 billion

Pumped storage: 5,000 MW x $1,500,000/MW = $7.5 billion

Total capital cost: $87.75 billion


Plus transmission and distribution costs.


Energiewende Cost Estimate: Siemens, estimates the total price tag of meeting Germany’s renewable, energy efficiency and CO2 emissions goals at about 1.7 trillion euros ($2.26 trillion) by 2030; the estimate includes decommissioning nuclear plants, energy storage and CO2 sequestering systems.


If the US were to follow Germany’s course, the cost would be about ($14.5 trillion, US GDP)/($3.5 trillion, German GDP) x $2.26 trillion  = $9.36 trillion. The US cost likely would be even greater as it is more spread-out than Germany and more of its aging electrical systems would need to be upgraded and replaced.


The above costs, paid out over 18 years, will only get Germany and the US to the CO2 emission reduction targets of 2030. It will take at least another $2.26 trillion and $9.36 trillion for Germany and the US, respectively, paid out over 20 years, to reach CO2 emission reduction targets for 2050.


It is 100% sure, the US will NOT follow on that course anytime soon, if ever, and almost all other nations will not either.


Additional estimates of capital and other costs are in these URLs.


Germany, a rich nation with a relatively strong economy, probably can afford the huge investments in renewables to achieve its CO2 emissions targets, but it is unlikely poorer nations with weak economies, such as Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Ireland, etc., will make the huge investments in renewables to follow Germany’s lead, and France has vowed to continue its 80% energy from nuclear. It is even less likely the US, Canada, China, India, Brazil, Russia, etc., will not use their coal, oil and gas reserves.

Projected World Energy Consumption by 2035: The Energy Information Administration, EIA, is projecting the world’s energy consumption to increase from 505 quadrillion Btu in 2008 to 770 quadrillion Btu in 2035, an increase of 53 percent. 

Worldwide, the renewables fraction (which includes hydro) of total consumption is projected to increase from 10.6% in 2010 to 15.2% in 2035, the fossil fraction to decrease from 84.1% in 2010 to 79.1% in 2035.  

Note: 1,055 Btu = 1 Joule; a quadrillion Btu = 1 quad = 10 to the power 15.


                                         1990         2015        2035

World                                  354           573          770

NON-OECD                           159           343          525

OECD                                   195           230          245


The above indicated OECD emissions will increase about 26% {(245-195)/195} from 1990 (Kyoto base year) to 2035, based on IEA assumptions.


The above indicated NON-OECD emissions will increase about 230% {(525-159)/159} from 1990 (Kyoto base year) to 2035, based on IEA assumptions. Most of the CO2 emission increase will be due to increased “dirty” coal combustion by China, India, Brazil, etc.


Projected World CO2 Emissions (million metric ton) by 2035 


22,700 in 1990 Kyoto base line

25,100 in 2002

30,720 in 2006

31,450 in 2007

32,190 in 2008

33,080 in 2009

33,730 in 2010

33,760 in 2011

35,400 in 2012; 57% greater than Kyoto base line, 22 years later!!!!

36,100 in 2013; 706 mmt more than in 2012!!!

36,900 in 2014; estimate

47,200 in 2035, projected based on IEA assumptions.


Some nice CO2 graphs:


In 2011, some major CO2 emitters (million metric ton) were:


                                                        2011           2010          


China                                               8,880           8,330

USA                                                 6,027           6,145

India                                                1,800           1,700

Russia                                              1,670           1,700

Japan                                              1,300           1,300

Germany                                             804              828


Germany’s CO2 Emissions Reduction: China, the US, Europe and Germany emitted (in 1,000 million metric tonnes) 7.46, 5.27, 4.3 and 0.79 in 2009, respectively.


China, the US, Europe and Germany projected emissions are (in 1,000 million metric tonnes) 11.7, 6.4, 4.4 and 0.55* in 2030, respectively.


*Germany’s CO2 emissions target for 2030 is 55% below the 1990 Kyoto base year, or (1 – 0.45) x 1.232 = 0.55.


This means significantly greater quantities of CO2 will be emitted in 2035 than in 2008 and that any efforts made by Germany to reduce its CO2 emissions will be extremely insignificant regarding global warming.


Even if all of Europe were to reduce its CO2 emissions to zero, the increase by other nations would be about twice as great as Europe’s decrease.


Conclusion: The above data indicates Germany’s irrational exuberance towards renewables will make no global warming and/or climate change difference, but will adversely affect Germany’s future economic well-being, because it will end up with an energy systems setup that will have about 2 to 3 times the levelized (owning+O&M) cost of competitor nations that did not follow Germany.


Germany is implementing renewables through subsidies more so than other nations, because it has the excess capital to do so, and because it claims to want to set an example to the world. Other nations, especially the developing nations, do not have the resources, and/or the willingness, to follow Germany.




World Population: The human race, walking upright, has been in existence for about 5 million years. The current ice age started about 2.5 million years ago. During all that time the human race survived, thrived and populated the world with minimal impact on the environment, including other fauna and flora. It is only in the last 1,000 years the world’s population has been growing at more rapid rates and impacting the environment, such as deforesting most of Europe, etc. 


The world’s population was about 350 million in 1350, about 1.0 billion in 1800, about 1.7 billion in 1900, about 2.4 billion in 1945, about 7.1 billion in 2011, will be increasing to about 9.5 – 10 billion by 2050, an increase of 42% over 2011.


Note: Population is being managed in a socially acceptable manner by means of drugs and medical procedures to extend people’s lives, from fetus to old age; it is big business!! Here are some photos, which show some of the effects of 7 billion people; 10 billion will be worse.

World Gross Product: The world gross product, GWP (2011$billion) was $45 in 1400; 175 in 1800; $1,103 in 1900; $3,001 billion in 1940; $71,830 in 2012.


The world’s middle class was 42% and 57% of the world’s population in 2000 and 2006, respectively.


The time to prevent MAN-MADE GW was in 1800, before the use of fossil fuels, which made possible the population explosion and GWP explosion. These explosions will go on until fossil fuels are exhausted!!


Any NATURE-MADE GW, such as coming out of the Little Ice Age (1450 – 1850), we have no control over.


During the 1900 – 1990  period, total US energy consumption per capita has more than quadrupled, AND the world population more than tripled.


Extrapolation of the GWP of $71,830 billion in 2012 at 2.6%/yr, gives a GWP of about $190,505 billion in 2050, an increase of 165% over 2011.

World Energy Consumption: Extrapolation of the IEA projection of the world’s energy consumption to increase by 53 percent, from 505 quadrillion Btu in 2008 to 770 quadrillion Btu in 2035, an average growth rate of about 1.6%/yr, projects a world energy consumption of about 977 quadrillion Btu in 2050, an increase of 93% over 2008.


World Energy Production: The world’s electricity production was 11,821 TWh in 1990, 15,395 TWh in 2000, about 21,000 TWh in 2010 and will be greater than 35,000 TWh by 2030.


Note: Historically, energy consumption growth is about 1% less than economic growth, because of energy efficiency measures.


Increasing numbers of people are being driven into modern consumption of goods and services. Such consumption has severely stressed the world’s resources, including the flora and fauna, since about 1900. The trends of population, pollution and per capita consumption growth are unsustainable.


The irrational exuberance of focussing on RE, boosted by self-serving PR campaigns of various economic sectors, at the expense of other, more effective CO2 reduction measures, including changes in lifestyles, increased energy efficiency, population management, etc., is delaying any meaningful change in the above trends.




It is not just the world population increase that is doing it to the world, it is the GWP/capita, AND the increased energy consumption/capita, AND the increase in the efficient use of that energy.


In 1800, the Gross World Product, GWP, was $175.24 billion; population 1.0 billion. 

In 2012, the GWP was $71,830 billion, 407 times greater; population 7.0 billion.


GWP/capita in 2012 = 407/7 = 58 times greater than in 1800 


In 1800, world per capita energy consumption was 20 GJ. In 2010, 80 GJ

10,000 J = 9.486 Btu
20 GJ/y = 18,956,342 Btu/y; 10 – 15 million Btu/ cord of green wood.


With 4 times the energy use per capita, 58 times the GWP/capita is achieved, i.e., energy/capita is used about 14.5 times* more effectively than in 1800.


GWP multiplier from 1800 to 2010 = 4 x 7 x 14.5 = 407; an indication of environmental impact.


The GDPs of the US and Europe are about 1/3 goods and 2/3 services, of China it is about 2/3 goods and 1/3 services. The GWP can be assumed to be 50% goods and 50% services in 2012.

That means, compared to 1800, the goods GWP increased about 407/2 = 203.5 times, or 203.5/7 = 29.1 times per capita, as the population increased about 7 times.

A summary table is as follows:


Population, billion………………….1.0…………….7.0…………….7 

Energy/capita, GJ………………….20……………..80……………..4

– Biofuel/capita, GJ………………..19……………….8

– Other/capita, GJ……………………1……………..72 

GWP, $billion……………………..175.24 ………71,830…………407 

GWP/capita, $……………………175.24……….10,261…………..58

Goods/capita, % of GWP…………..90……………..50

Services/capita, % of GWP………..10……………..50


NOTE: The wildlife animal population decreased 50% from 1970 to 2014, while the human population and GDP/capita, and CO2/capita increased!!


NOTE: Steam engines were 3% efficient, modern CCGTs are 60% efficient; Dutch wind mills were 2-4% efficient, modern wind turbines are at about half of the theoretical maximum of Betz’s Law of 59%; wood/peat OPEN fireplaces of 1800 had negative efficiency. Lay people usually do not get that point, as they know little about the efficiency of engineered systems.


Because of the present effective use of energy, much more goods and services can be produced for consumption and more damage is done to the environment that debilitates the fauna and flora.


It is a fantasy to think RE build-outs by mostly developed nations will reverse this situation, because underdeveloped nations continue to increase their use of fossil fuels, i.e., GW is a given for as long as fossil fuels are available.


World Carrying Capacity: With the present quantity and mix of people consuming goods and services, about $70 trillion/yr at present, the world will soon be so toxic, and the fauna and flora habitat destruction will be so excessive that the health of much of life on Earth will be compromised and a significant part of it will be extinct or near-extinct. 


There have been 5 major species extinctions, based on death rate per million species. About 252 million years ago, the Great Dying caused the extinction of about 90% of species. The last major extinction was about 66 million years ago, when about 75% of species became extinct, including the dinosaurs. The sixth one is taking place at present and it is entirely due to Man’s encroachment and destruction of flora and fauna habitats. The background death rate, prior to the arrival of Home Sapiens, was about 0.1/million, the current rate is about 100 – 1000/million, 10 times greater than biologists had originally estimated. See URL.


Dr. Paul Ehrlich, a biologist, states the world’s sustainable carrying capacity (providing healthy food, clean water, adequate shelter, absorbing pollution, etc.) is AT THE VERY MOST 1.5 billion people;  I use 1.0 billion, the population of 1800, in this article to be on the “safe” side. Even 1.0 billion may be too much.


The 1.0 billion people would need to be on a strict energy/resources diet and on a strict travel diet to minimize their impacts on the environment and its remaining, debilitated fauna and flora. 


Vast areas of the world, much of it disturbed by Man, would again be returned, in their sorry state, to the OTHER flora and fauna (they “owned” almost all of the UNDISTURBED world until about 3,000 years ago).


Before WW I, most Western World families had 4-8 children, now 1-3. It takes 2.1 children to MAINTAIN population growth at zero. GRADUALLY reducing that number to less than 1.5, will GRADUALLY reduce the world population to 1.0 billion. Some European nations and Japan already have less than zero population growth.


Because of the spreading and sprawling of modernity and its toxic substances, including fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, the capacity to support fauna and flora (other than Homo Sapiens with his healthcare support systems) has become minimal in heavily-populated, industrialized regions, such as the Ruhr area, since about 1850. Currently, that capacity is decreasing almost everywhere, due to the impact of Homo Sapiens, “Wise Man”.


On the US East Coast, an area about 150 miles wide, from about Portland, Maine, to about the North Carolina border, has become an ecological semi-dead zone in many places, because of intense modern developments since around 1800.


At the outlets of the Hudson and Mississippi Rivers are dead zones the size of New Jersey; eco-systems collapsed due to toxic silt, pesticides, and fertilizer runoffs. There are semi-dead zones everywhere, such as off the New England Coast, where fish populations have partially collapsed due to overfishing and habitat deterioration. Fish hatcheries and fish farms are required to make up for the loss of habitats and natural fish populations.


In the US, various butterfly subspecies have died out in recent decades, or are endangered, or are threatened, due to towns and homeowners using pesticide misting systems to kill mosquitos. Moths, honeybees, frogs, salamanders, toads, wasps, beetles are similarly endangered.


Pollution in the environment (air, soil, water) has entered the food chain of the fauna and flora causing and/or increasing the prevalence of genetic-damage-related diseases, such as various cancers, i.e., bladder cancer in 4-yr olds; increased autism and attention deficit disorders in children; fish eggs not hatching in the Mexican Gulf; acid-rain-damaged trees dying at an early age, etc.


Adverse lifestyles (breathing polluted air; drinking “processed” water; “doing” drugs; drinking alcohol; smoking tobacco; consuming low-nutrition foods, i.e., junk food) increase mutation and exacerbate the effects of pollution.


“Is it safe to eat the fish?”. “Is it safe to drink the water?” Feel-good advertising makes us drink and eat what the industrial, low/no-nutrition food and drink sectors provide.


If it were not for modern medicine (which is getting increasingly expensive/unaffordable; currently about 18% of US GDP, or about $2.7 trillion/yr, or about 3.5 times the defense budget!), the US population would be in the same predicament as the remaining fauna and flora.


The resources of modern medicine will likely not be sufficient to stem the coming worldwide tide of cancerous and degenerative diseases, requiring procedures, such as breast, ovary, prostate removals and knee, hip, organ replacements, and various implants (pacemakers, stents, etc.)


In 1800, there were about one billion people. In Europe, there was overpopulation, deforestation and a lack of resources at THAT time. The reason so many millions (of the then small population) emigrated. Wood had almost run out and coal was not yet mined in sufficient quantities to replace it, oil and gas had not yet been discovered and the technology to use it did not exist.


Renewable Energy Build-Outs The Solution?: Doing RE build-outs are exactly the opposite of what Ehrlich advocates, because they are, lifestyle-wise, BAU. 


Doing heavily-subsidized RE build-outs that are resource-intensive, expensive, polluting, environment-damaging, quality of life-damaging, etc., without first doing significantly increased energy efficiency* (which reduces the use of resources) and population reduction (which reduces the use of resources) is extremely irrational. There are no funds to do RE and EE at the same time. 


*The resource and energy savings due to EE should only be used to do additional EE, not for buying other goods and services; a necessary lifestyle change.




The momentum of manmade GW, augmented by positive feedbacks loops (shrinking snow/ice-covered areas, increasing methane release from tundras and CO2 release from oceans, increasing urbanization and deforestation), already in place for at least 150 years and getting stronger, are having a major adverse impact of the world’s ecosystems and biodiversity. These trends will continue for many decades due to various factors, such as:


– an increasing world population requiring larger areas to be cleared for agriculture and urbanization.

– a greater percentage of people becoming modern consumers, each consuming more resources.

– modern medicine increasing population longevity.

– the EIA projecting energy consumption to increase 53% by 2035, of which fossil consumption will still be 79.1% in 2035 vs. 84.1% in 2008.

– a plentiful supply of relatively low-cost, clean natural gas for about 100 years.


Any major change would have to include a concerted, enforced, worldwide effort by all nations, plus spending at least 5 to 10 percent of GWP for the rest of this century to bend the CO2 emissions curve downwards; reductions in CO2 ppMv in the atmosphere may happen decades AFTER the curve STARTS to bend downwards, if it can be done at all because of existing positive feedbacks. 


It is likely the worldwide changing distribution of temperatures is a given for at least the rest of this century, and likely much longer, no matter what the OECD nations do regarding reducing CO2 emissions of their economies, because the fast-growing large economies of the non-OECD nations will have fossil energy consumption growth far outpacing that of the slow-growing OECD economies.


Despite the numerous international CC meetings of the past 35 years, the CO2 ppMv has increased faster each year. It is likely the people of the world will not get together to make the required investments. 


Without returning to the 1.7 billion population level of 1900 (or the 1.5 billion in 1865, per Paul Ehrlich; or the 1.0 billion in 1800) AND changing the GWP mix to about 20% goods and 80% services, i.e., major lifestyle changes, it is beyond reason to think any sufficient manmade efforts (10% of GWP? 20% of GWP?), applied over many decades, will be adequate to reduce the manmade impacts that may have caused a part of the increase in GW since 1850.


Such a reduced population, on a strictly-enforced, eco-friendly energy diet, may be all the world can sustainably/biologically support and still have enough left over of the traditional fauna and flora habitats to give other fauna and flora a fair chance to survive and thrive.


Instead of using scarce resources for the expensive RE approach to reduce CO2 emissions that may be futile, it would be much better to use those resources to prepare for CC, such as by moving away from areas that are prone to flooding; increased energy efficiency, such as for energy-efficient buildings and motor vehicles; and changes in lifestyles, such as rearranging cities to encourage CO2-free walking and bicycling, instead of riding in CO2-emitting/polluting motor vehicles. 


Instead of a regressive, unfocused carbon tax that hits the bottom 90% of households the most, it would be much better to accelerate lifestyle changes of the top 10% of households that directly or indirectly consume about 90% of all household energy. 


As a minimum, there should be high taxes on energy-intensive activities, such as monster truck and car demolition events; car and drag racing; private plane, yacht, airline and car travel, mega-mansion building, etc., and low/no taxes on low-energy activities.




In Europe, consumption of energy and other resources per capita in 1865 was much less than at present. Deforestation, pollution, overfishing, flora and fauna habitat destruction, etc., were already unsustainable in the more densely populated areas. 


Not enough wooden ships could be built to bring resources to Europe and tens of millions of people migrated to lands with more ample resources, i.e., Australia, the US, Brazil, etc.; a safety valve. 


Only when wood was displaced by coal and steel could the large ships be built to bring resources to fuel Europe’s industrialization. 


Various European surplus products were used to buy natural resources from other lands, as China is doing at present, which caused deforestation, pollution, overfishing, flora and fauna habitat destruction in those lands as well. 


Today’s world trade is a growing, ecologically-downward spiral that is unstoppable. Sea-going ships use the dirtiest fuel oils. The thinking all this can be made eco-friendly by reducing CO2 emissions with RE build-outs is well beyond rational.


Example of Deforestation and “Reforestation”: In New England, after 80% of it was stripped of its old-growth trees by about 1865, much of the topsoil, a thin layer on top of rocks in most places built up over about 9,000 years, eroded. 


As a result, the new-growth trees that “reforested” less than 50% of New England can be only a pale copy of the old-growth trees. Acid-laden precipitation from Midwest coal plants has damaged the soil, sickened the trees, reduced their longevity and their CO2 absorbing capability.


New England’s forest biomass quantity prior to 1865 likely was about 5 times greater than at present and its CO2 absorbing capability likely was about 10 times greater than at present. New England has seen vastly greater additional manmade environmental destruction since 1865; highways and sprawling urban areas come to mind.


Proposals to burn biomass (wood) for New England’s thermal and electrical energy requirements is akin to scorched-earth warfare, given the present forest and soil conditions.


To remedy the situation would require a significant reduction of acid-laden precipitation AND the forests to be left undisturbed for several hundred years to restore topsoil health and thickness.


If dead trees and branches were cut into woodchips that were spread evenly throughout the forest floor, the top soil restoration would be quickened. The thinking all this can be remediated by reducing CO2 emissions with RE build-outs is well beyond rational.







Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on May 1, 2012


A primary strategy of the clean energy movement is to make clean energy cheaper than energy from fossil fuel.  The method chosen to implement that strategy has been to focus on exclusively on renewables and conservation.

To date, that method has failed because renewables are still too expensive.  With 47 GW of installed wind power in the US (and 238 GW worldwide, according to ), the cost of wind is probably nearly bottomed-out.  Solar is even more expensive than wind, but is still dropping in price, as cumulative US installation was only about 4.5 GW at the end of 2011 (according to ); in a few years we should have a good idea of the ultimate cost.

The missing piece of our strategy is low cost nuclear.  As a society, we have not tried to cost-reduce nuclear power in fifty years (yes, there are people in the industry trying to bring the cost down, but there are even more people in so-called environmental groups and within government that are working just as hard to push costs up).  Fundamentally, the cost of energy from any source is related to the amount and complexity of material required to harvest a given amount of power.  Nuclear power plants use very little material (an order of magnitude less than wind and solar) per GW, and they are mostly low cost materials (concrete and steel).  So they have a lot of potential for cost reduction.  (see

and the companion paper: ).

The mainstream environment movement has positioned itself again nuclear, actively spreading fear and distrust based on mis-information, and this has clearly been to the detriment of the environment and impeded effective CO2 emission control.  Eventually, the world will have to either become more objective regarding nuclear, or as Willem suggests, learn to live with consequences.


But regarding giving up on emissions reductions:

An economist named William Nordhaus of Yale University has analyzed the expected cost which will result from climate change, and calculated the resulting cost of our CO2 emissions today.  According to his figures, using a 4%/year discount rate, we should be spending $30/ton of carbon emission avoidance as of 2005, rising to $90/ton in 2050 and $200/ton in 2100.  


Mike Barnard's picture
Mike Barnard on May 13, 2012

To break down the argument presented here:

Argument 1: CO2 from humans isn’t a cause of Global Warming

This is obvious to Mr. Post because while 95%+ of climate change scientists — aka people who actually know what they are talking about — support anthropogenic climate change (AGW), people that disagree with them have published unpeer-reviewed things that say so, for example an op-ed piece in the Middlebury community blog and a post by a Tucson Libertarian who also says things like “environmentalism is not about the environment anymore. It has become the religion of control freaks; control of land use, control of where we can live, control of what kind of homes we build, control of what method of transportation we use, and control of where businesses buy their supplies.” As well as this gem:  “Sustainable development invariably involves giving some central authority control over the economy.  The former Soviet Union is a good example of how badly that works.”

It’s obvious that these are more reliable sources of information than several thousand peer-reviewed, published, scientific papers that support AGW.

Even Bjorm Lomborg admits that AGW is the correct view of the climate now.


Argument 2:  Renewables don’t result in reductions in CO2 

Here as well the choice of references is fascinating.  To debunk just the most widely referenced one, the Bentek report is produced by a company which gets its money from analyses for the natural gas industry.  Bentek’s founder, President and CEO, Porter Bennet, happens to be the Chairman and Director of the Natural Gas Committee of the fossil fuel lobby group the Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States, as well as a member of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association.  No bias there. And the report is deeply flawed as well as merely deeply biased.  Perhaps the most damning of its many errors is that direct data from Texas governmental reports indicates the exact opposite of what the Bentek report asserts:  increases in renewables in Texas correlate strongly to reduction in CO2 emissions despite increases in consumption. 

Ontario, Canada, is another jurisdiction like Texas.  It’s betting big on wind and solar.  How are its CO2 emissions doing?  Well, as they’ve dropped coal as a source of electricity from 20% of the grid to 3% in the past 9 years, they’ve also reduced CO2 emissions by a staggering 70%, with the potential to see a 30 megatonne reduction in 2012.  Wind and solar are contributors to this, and their contribution will continue to rise over the next years.


Argument 3:  Including significantly more renewables is expensive

As is everything. Mr. Post does not include the costs of remaining on, for example, a coal-based generation system with negative externalities of roughly 18 cents per kilowatt hour. Or mention other alternative solutions and their attendant costs.  Given his first two arguments’ quality and the lack of suggested alternatives to real problems, further rebuttal of this point is unnecessary.


To summarize Mr. Posts arguments, global warming isn’t caused by CO2 from human endeavours and renewables don’t help with CO2 anyway and they are expensive.  He’s wrong on the first two counts, and I won’t bother to point out the mistakes and overstatements in the third.


Now, why would Mr. Post be asserting this particular line of reasoning?  Might it be because Mr. Post is actually a member of a nuclear power advocacy group in Vermont, the Coalition for Energy Solutions? (  I did love their pro-nuclear rally in front of a federal courthouse:  And I do love that many of them have taught pro-nuclear, anti-renewable courses in the continuing education curriculum of the local university:

Nuclear energy is actually an excellent provider of baseload generation in many jurisdictions, and if Mr. Post were openly advocating for it based on its merits instead of attacking renewables — such as wind which is set to overtake nuclear’s world-wide generation capacity by 2016 – there might be a fruitful discussion.  As it is, Mr. Post is in denial about global warming, grasping at straws as far as references goes to support his arguments and wrong about both the economics and CO2-merits of renewables.  Rebuttal is possible; fruitful discussion likely isn’t.  (If someone thinks that this article by Mr. Post is an anomaly, I would suggest looking at this equally flawed article by Mr. Post:


Full disclosure:  I am not an employee of any organization related to the wind industry.  I do not make a living in any way from wind energy.  I am not paid by anyone or any organization in any currency to promote wind energy or to counter disinformation about it.

Rick Engebretson's picture
Rick Engebretson on May 14, 2012

Willem, I appreciate your listing multiple causes of global warming. Another big cause discussed in the late 1970s (when single hull vs. double hull oil tankers were debated) is ocean pollution. The thinnest of oil layers on the ocean surface prevents evaporation as the ocean warms. In familiar terms, plastic wrap prevents food dehydration.

Besides the oil spills, we now have the city of Fukushima floating to California. And widespread pollution from rivers entering the oceans around the globe.

As you say, it all adds up to a much bigger problem than just the CO2 big problem. And it would be nice if a more cordial discussion was possible.

My perspective is very different from most expressed. Living in a rural area, there are too few people willing to work to continue reasoned growth. While most of the discussion is driven by frustrated urban crowds who don’t know what to do. We need a lot of new carbon in new soil in new areas with new fresh water or people will starve long before they have an energy/climate breakdown.

Mike Barnard's picture
Mike Barnard on May 14, 2012

The flaws I have pointed out in this article remain flaws in this article.  As editing of articles is presumably as easy as editing comments, it is unclear why corrections asserted by Mr. Post have not been made, why this article dismisses anthropogenic global warming, why the Bentek report is referenced despite his assertion of its flaws and why the extremely weak references to op-ed pieces remain.  I will gladly delete my comments if the article is improved in such a way; however, this would destroy Mr. Post’s argument.

As to references to Mr. Post’s other articles as well as additional references and points not made in this article, I will assess them as well and provide rebuttals as necessary. To date I have reviewed two articles and provided clear and referenced rebuttals of points that required rebuttal.  I assume that other articles referenced by Mr. Post above will also require analysis and rebuttal; his style is lengthy and extensively referenced, which makes it appear weighty and conclusive.  As the analysis of references shows from this article, however, he relies on very weak sources to support his bias.  This style takes time and effort to analyse and rebut.

I thank Mr. Post for clarifying his advocacy for nuclear. A discussion of the pros and cons of that would be welcome without the distractions of inaccurate attacks on other sources of generation. As nuclear has lost 10 GW of generation WW over the past few years with more and more jurisdictions eliminating nuclear plants or cancelling plans for new ones, an assertion that “the world will have to get at least 50% of its electrical energy from nuclear,” seems remarkably firm and remarkably unlikely. A specific article by Mr. Post as opposed to a lengthy discussion in comments would be preferred. 

Penny Melko's picture
Penny Melko on Aug 8, 2012

First, I appreciate the opportunity to comment. Many of you have tremendous background and knowledge on this topic and I'm humbled.

I didn't notice coal seam gas listed as a major greenhouse gas. Some of the coal seams have been burning for over 100 years.

Story about Charles Keeling, the man who developed the Keeling Curve. About every 6 months I read this out loud to my husband who is a scientist and a lawyer to remind us how precarious man's extistence has become.

We live in the Tehachapi Pass in California and witness the destruction of the wild lands on a daily basis. I've seen the legendary California condors flying within a mile of an operational wind facility. Yet, Kern County keeps approving filling in every inch of space for more turbines. We live within 1.48 miles of a group of turbines and are surrounded by hundreds of them. There are few birds where we live because the turbines and transmssion lines have killed them all. Dead birds with their heads blown off or electrocuted are all over under local transmission lines. One project, the North Sky River project, a wetland is being used for water to wet down the roads and make the concrete pads. The environmental impact report stated that the wetland will drop at leat 9 feet during construction from all the pumping. The local batch plants are 100 feet from the wetland entering state water ways. Basically, nesting birds are booted of the 21 sq. miles. After the facility is operational they enter the air space at their own risk. The area is just below Buterbredt and the major migratory flyway along the pacific coast. As the bulldozer dig, 12,000 aboriginal Indian bones are scooped up in every shovel.

This technology falls way short of being GREEN aside for the green in the pockets of the developers that are then "flipped" like houses to the banks for their investor portfolios. I tracked down the sale of Oak Creek Energy to American Wind Capital. The parent company is the notorious Barclays Bank the same bank under investigation for rate fixing! Their subsidiary is selling private hedge fund shares to their investors.

Willem Post's picture
Thank Willem for the Post!
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