6/22/2017

Climate Confidential


I obtained this book from somebody that had no business in giving it to me, or to any other. **
This is a confidential manual to train climate alarmists globally. It has already been translated to 27 languages.

The manual is titled: Climate 101.



Here are some of the hard instructions included:


  • To demand trillions of dollars (euros) FIRST you have to scare people out of their wits.
  • Don't even try to explain the complexities of Earth's atmosphere. Just say: CO2 will kill us all!
  • Always project an aura of infallibility even though we don't really understand what is going on. Remember, #TheScienceIsSettled
  • Of all alternatives to reduce CO2 emissions, always select the most expensive and least reliable.
  • Always downplay the serious problems of humanity such as poverty, war and terrorism while insisting AGW is the priority.
  • Never debate against an opponent that knows the science. On second thought, never debate with anybody. They'll cream you.
  • Insist that the Energiewende is a success in spite of the fact it is falling apart at the seams.
  • Unconditionally oppose nuclear energy, the best road to a low CO2 economy. Why? There's not much money in nuclear.
  • Send loads of climate delegates to climate conferences. Why? They love the perks and we need them on our side.
  • Recruit celebrities to terrorize the public with CO2. Overlook the fact that these same celebrities are raping the planet.
  • Never settle for less than 100% RE. This is a question of moral purity. Never mind it is just not possible.
  • Root for liberal candidates all over the world. Why? They are easier to con.
  • This con won't last forever. The next trillion dollar scam in which we are already working is #UniversalBasicIncome


** This post is actually pure fiction. I have not received any manual, but the more I think about it the more probable it seems that this manual actually exists. How is it that all climate alarmists use the same tactics and talking points? 

Feel free to add to the conversation in Twitter: @luisbaram

6/07/2017

Food and Energy


Making energy more expensive whether by carbon taxes or otherwise is not a good idea. Let's analize how, for example, food has energy inputs (mostly fossil fuel based) through all its processes:


  • Planting is usually heavily mechanized plus fertilizers are mainly produced from fossil fuels.
  • Harvesting is usually heavily mechanized also.
  • Transportation requires oil powered ships and / or diesel powered trucks.
  • Preparation / cooking / freezing / refrigeration is mostly fossil fuel powered.
  • Even buying the food usually requires people driving to the supermarket (or home delivery) and then what is left needs heating and refrigeration.


Thus, increasing the cost of energy would almost certainly have a significant impact on the price of food.

And sure, the poorer somebody is, the larger portion of his income has to be spent in buying food.

So, to those governments that want to impose a carbon tax we say: thanks, but no thanks. Don't play with the basic needs of your citizens. 


Feel free to add to the conversation in Twitter: @luisbaram

6/05/2017

100% RE


We hear a lot about the desirability of going 100% renewable energy (mostly solar & wind). But before we get overly excited by this vision, let's underline some practical considerations.

  • Solar panels & wind turbines are low density energy converters and thus vast mining operations would be required to produce a significant amount of our electricity. Since the lifetime of the above devices is not that long (a few decades at the most) these mining operations would have to exist in perpetuity (even if some recycling takes place). 
  • Additionally, let's underline that electricity is only a fraction of world's total energy consumption and renewables usually only replace other sources of electricity generation.
Here we can see global energy consumption (IEA 2016 report):


  • China is the #1 producer of solar panels & wind turbines so massive tonnage would need to be transported across the world (ships, trucks) and again, these shipping operations would need to continue in perpetuity.
  • 100% RE would also require voluminous industrial battery banks which would also necessitate gargantuan mining, smelting, manufacturing and transportation operations. The useful life of batteries is even less that that of panels and turbines.
  • New transmission lines will be needed to bring the renewable energy from where it is produced (low population density places) to where it is actually used. These transmission lines will also need mining, manufacturing, transportation operations. 
  • The shipping fleet worldwide would need to be significantly expanded (more mining, manufacturing, etc.). 

All of the above would certainly be very expensive and harmful to the environment. So the question is why is 100% RE even considered a desirable objective?

Feel free to add to the conversation in Twitter: @luisbaram


6/01/2017

Sense of Urgency


In my opinion, the reason fusion has produced no useful electricity after more than 65 years and billions upon billions of dollars / euros invested is that there is no sense of urgency with this technology.

Fusion needs a General Groves or a very hard headed business leader that clearly sets the basic objective for fusion energy:

     Produce electricity that is as reliable and cheaper than the one produced by fission reactors.

The objective cannot be "achieve fusion energy breakeven." That will never take us anywhere.

Then, they need a strict timeline, say: produce at least one megawatt of electrical power (which is really peanuts, but a beginning) with an annual capacity factor of at least 75% in a timeframe of five years.

Then, upgrade power, and capacity factor to say, produce 100 megawatts of power in 5 more years (10 since "Groves" takes over) with an annual capacity factor of 85%.

Additionally, cost needs to be an ALL important consideration, if not we'll just be racing to a Pyrrhic victory. Thus, the objective has to be something like this:

     At the 1 megawatt level, fusion cost should be no greater than 10 times the fission cost (per MWh).
     At the 100 megawatt level, fusion cost should be no greater than 3 times the fission cost.

The numbers above should consider net electricity generation and should obviously consider the cost of capital as the fuel in fusion as well as in fission is extremely cheap.

Consequently, the objective of fusion power is not to achieve it at any cost. No, cost considerations need to be an inherent part of the design. Among other things "Groves" should ask: will you be able to achieve the cost objectives using superconductive electro-magnets? If not, the superconductors must go.

If the 5 and 10 year objectives are not met, then the project itself will be discontinued and you'll have to find another job hopefully not in the government sector.

Feel free to add to the conversation in Twitter: @luisbaram


5/08/2017

Beware of Consultants


Consultants tend to over-rationalize what they see around them. For example, they visit a very successful company and then begin to think that company is successful thanks to to the way it does things. They tend not to consider that the studied company may be successful in spite of many of their practices and behaviors. The consultant then falls in love with their mental schemes and tries to preach these "success secrets" to other companies. 

By the time others begin to listen to him, the original studied company is not very successful anymore and the consultant thus ends up preaching from a vacuum. 

So, what makes a company successful in the first place?

Let's start by underlining that luck plays a part. However, as Jim Collins states: luck exists but it cannot be a consistent strategy.

Also, let's stress that companies are unique and what works on one might not work at all in another one. Thus there is not even such thing as a "great leader." Ben Horowitz states it this way: "Mark Zuckerberg is a phenomenal CEO for Facebook. He would not be a good CEO for Oracle. Similarly, Larry Ellison does a terrific job at Oracle but he would not be the right person to manage Facebook."

So, what makes a successful business leader? Here is my take although the list is obviously not all inclusive.

  • They love winning and they hate, hate, hate losing. In sports the second and the third place may receive a silver or bronze medal. In business the second and third place return home empty handed. The level of adrenaline in business has to be higher than in sports. The successful business leader has this fixation with winning. Ray Kroc said it this way: "I believe in God, family, and McDonald's - and in the office, that order is reversed. If you are running a hundred-yard dash, you aren't thinking about God while you're running. Not if you hope to win. Your mind is on the race. My race is McDonald's."
  • Integrity: this is just the ticket to the game. Nothing else to say here. 
  • Energy and street smarts: they work smart and hard. They set the pace for all the organization.
  • Humbleness: They run scared even when they are leading the pack. Andy Grove's version: "only the paranoid survive." And, Frank Wells' version: "as long as you think and act as if you're coming from behind, you have a shot at staying ahead."
  • They don't have personal and professional life. They have life. They are always in the race. 
  • They achieve high levels of engagement from their direct reports and from the rest of the organization.
The more successful a company is and the longer that success lasts, the more difficult it gets to lead that company because the enemy, in the form of complacency begins to attack from within. 

In sports the rules of the game stay mostly the same. In business the rules of the game and even the game itself is continually changing thus, only the paranoid survive.


"My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that."
- Alice in Wonderland

Feel free to add to the conversation in Twitter: @luisbaram 


3/16/2017

Dumbing Down is Dumb


In the energy / climate discourse there is a lot of dumbing down being done and this is either plain dumb or even worse, arrogant.

I am an unpaid nuclear energy promoter but it annoys me no end when other promoters label it as a "zero emissions" energy source. It is not. Dumbing down energy / climate conversations is disrespectful for your audience plus, we do NOT want to sound like Greenpeacers (all feelings and no facts). So, even nuclear promoters should probably clearly underline the following:

  1. There will be more nuclear power plant accidents. This is inevitable. The airline industry will NEVER state that there will not be more airplane disasters; we shouldn't either. Yes, in spite of past and future nuclear accidents nuclear energy will almost certainly continue to be the safest energy we have; bar none. This is equivalent to air travel: even though airplane accidents are more newsworthy, planes are by far safer than automobiles per mile travelled. Actually, the most dangerous thing concerning nuclear energy is when governments overreact to nuclear accidents and order unnecessary (or unnecessarily long) evacuations. 
  2. Nuclear is a low CO2 emission technology. Actually, of the current non-marginal energy sources nuclear is the best in this respect, clocking at 12 grams per kWh (hydro measures in at 24 grams). Nuclear usually replaces coal with emissions of 820 grams per kWh. 
  3. Nuclear waste is still an issue even though the amount generated is minute compared to say coal. Some countries, like France, have pretty much solved the problem plus there are better nuclear designs in the pipeline that should produce much less waste. Also, nuclear waste can be turned into valuable material. 
  4. There is a psychological fear factor respecting nuclear. Thus, lots of (not dumbed down) education for the public will be required.
However, once we state the above points we should underline that nuclear is low pollution, low CO2, safer than any other energy we have, scalable, dense, reliable, affordable, constant, produces high paying jobs, is proven, even better designs are in the pipeline and the fuel (uranium and/or thorium) will last for at least hundreds of years. 

Once all facts are considered, it is hard to find a better energy source than nuclear.


Feel free to add to the conversation in Twitter: @luisbaram

Notes:
Relative safety of nuclear energy:
https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2012/06/10/energys-deathprint-a-price-always-paid/

CO2 emissions per kWh:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life-cycle_greenhouse-gas_emissions_of_energy_sources

Example of new nuclear designs in the pipeline:
http://www.transatomicpower.com/

3/15/2017

Horse in the Race


Yesterday I was having a polite conversation with a climate alarmist and even though all through the interaction you could sense a feeling of superiority from the "settled science" promoter, at the end she stated this respecting energy: "I don't have a horse in the race."

Well, if increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere are really an issue, then we most definitely need a horse in the race. CO2 emissions won't go down just by "believing" in human caused global warming.

No, where the rubber meets the road we'll have to replace high carbon intensity primary energy with lower carbon alternatives.

Since hydro is pretty much maxxed out as a percentage of global primary energy and renewables need pairing power plants that end up producing most of the energy on an annual basis, we essentially have two options to reduce the CO2 intensity of primary energy:

1. Replace coal with natural gas. When used for electricity generation, natural gas produces close to half the CO2 emissions of coal. This is not a footnote; this is a game changer. Yes, replacing oil with natural gas would also reduce emissions although not as dramatically. Some countries already have large fleets of natural gas powered vehicles.

2. Replace coal and, eventually even natural gas with nuclear which is very low (although not zero) in CO2 emissions.

So, if we really care about reducing the CO2 intensity of the global economy we have to leave the philosophical ivory tower, get our hands dirty and name names respecting primary energy: natural gas and nuclear. 

We need to have a horse (or two) in the race and we have to cheer them to the finish line.


Thank you.

Feel free to add to the conversation in Twitter: @luisbaram

3/08/2017

Pull the Plug on Fusion



Fusion was supposed to be the source of cheap electricity for humanity. Back in 1955, Homi Bhabha said: "I venture to predict that a method will be found for liberating fusion energy in a controlled manner within the next two decades. When that happens the energy problems of the world will truly have been solved forever."

Well, after more than 60 years and billions upon billions of funds coming from Russia, the US, Europe, Japan and even Argentina, fusion has gone nowhere. Today, fusion doesn't even produce 1% of world's energy. Hey, it doesn't produce even 0.1%. It produces a big fat nothing.

The Manhattan Project achieved its objectives in less than four years. The Apollo Program achieved its objectives in less than a decade. Fusion, on the other hand, continues burning billions of dollars (euros) every year and not one lousy power plant is still in operation.

Why the fixation with fusion?

Some are expecting a breakthrough at any moment, but the real breakthrough would have to be on the cost of the reactor itself more than on achieving a constant and long lived fusion reaction. ITER is not scheduled to ever produce any electricity, but if it did, the cost of the reactor per GWe of capacity would be more than 100 billion euros. This is more than one order of magnitude above the current cost of fission reactors.

Simplifying a little bit (OK, a lot), a fission reactor is a pressure cooker. On the other hand a fusion reactor is a magnetic plasma levitator. The former will always be much cheaper than the latter.

So yes, eventually fusion will be mastered but it will be a Pyrrhic victory: the reactor will be too expensive to matter.

Solar and wind energy are intermittent and unreliable and thus expensive. But even these so called renewables may be producing 10% of global electricity by the middle of this century. Fusion will continue producing a big fat nothing.

Is it time to pull the plug on fusion reactors?

I would argue this should have been done decades ago.

Feel free to add to the conversation in Twitter: @luisbaram




3/07/2017

In Defense of Solar Power



There are some applications in which solar PV is the best energy source and, not surprisingly, in those applications it commands almost 100% of the market.

One such application is powering satellites in geostationary orbit. At that altitude, on most days the capacity factor of the solar panels is close to 100%. That's right, this is not a mistake: close to 100%.

Only near the equinoxes does that capacity factor drop but it still is sustained way above 90% on a daily basis.

On the other hand, here on the surface of the Earth we have nights, clouds, and seasons and thus solar energy is intermittent and unreliable.

One size does not fit all. For geostationary satellites NOTHING beats solar PV. Here on Earth, we have better options.

Feel free to add to the conversation in Twitter: @luisbaram

Tweeting About Fossil Fuels

Before tweeting against fossil fuels, please realize that the whole process is fossil fuel powered.


  • The mining, smelting, refining of the metals and compounds required.
  • The manufactory / assembly of most smartphones has a heavy China component and in that country coal rules in the primary energy supply.
  • Shipping the smartphone to your country is usually done either in petrol powered ships or kerosene powered airplanes.
  • And now, you have to power both your phone as well as the Twitter servers. Globally, coal is the #1 source of electricity and natural gas sits firmly at #2.
  • Finally, the money you (or rather, your parents) needed to pay for your phone was earned with the support of fossil fuels.
So, if you are anti-fossil fuels you'll probably be more consistent if you do not tweet at all.


Thank you.

Please follow us at @luisbaram

3/01/2017

Alarmist Arrogance


In my opinion, the arrogant behavior of many climate alarmists not only repels a lot of people, but may end up destroying the credibility they still have left.

What would be a welcome change?

Imagine an alarmist that spoke this way:

Even though CO2 is a greenhouse gas and in theory higher concentrations of it in the atmosphere would tend to increase global temperatures, in reality climate science is an amazingly complicated subject and thus we cannot reliably make projections of what will happen in the short or long term. 

Yes, some of us think things could get really bad, but so far there is no compelling evidence either that the climate is getting more violent or that tornadoes, hurricanes, droughts and floods are getting more common globally. Neither is there evidence that agricultural production is suffering worldwide. 

The most media hungry among us love to point to anecdotal weather happenings and even try to trigger fear in others but this is obviously not scientific in the least and in the long run is self-defeating. 

However, probably the worst fault among alarmists is promoting renewables as a solution (or even THE solution) to CO2 emissions. This is plain wrong. We know renewables are a marginal energy source that requires reliable pairing power plants. Renewables not only don't significantly reduce CO2 emissions, it could be argued they increase them by wasting money in them instead of investing in more effective options such as insulation, efficiency, nuclear, replacing coal with natural gas and even replacing older coal plants with state of the art ones. 

Also, we alarmists can't ignore that energy transitions require many decades to occur and that they are only tangentially a scientific issue. They are mostly economic, political, social and engineering issues. Thus scientists should be advisors but never expect to actually lead humanity. They are just not prepared to lead society.

Finally, scientists should not support impossible "solutions," such as #KeepItInTheGround. No, we have to be much more practical. For example, if sea levels are rising and temperatures are increasing then humanity will need more dikes and more air conditioning units (and thus more electricity generation). Asking for trillions of dollars to reduce Earth's temperature by half a degree in the year 2100 is utter irresponsibility.

Yes, we can say that "the science is settled" regarding the fact that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, but the modelling of such a complex system as planet Earth is certainly not settled. Questions should be welcomed. Discussions should be encouraged. And we alarmists should start by conceding we don't have all the answers; hey, we don't even have all the questions. Thank you.

Feel free to add to the conversation in Twitter: @luisbaram

1/05/2017

Accelerating


I have seen no evidence that, as some claim, the climate globally is becoming more extreme or violent, however if that were the case we would need to accelerate our use of energy and in particular of fossil fuels.

Why?

If the climate is getting hotter, then more air conditioner units will need to be manufactured and also we will need more reliable electricity to power them all.



If the sea levels are rising, we would need widespread civil engineering projects to construct dikes, or otherwise prepare the coastal cities for this eventuality. 



People all over would need to upgrade their houses to better resist wind and rain events.

Income would need to rise and almost all jobs ultimately depend on fossil fuels.

All of the above cannot be achieved with renewable energy, so it is self-defeating to use extreme weather as an argument to reduce fossil fuel use.

If extreme weather is happening or is coming, we need to use much more energy. The green fringe should use a different argument altogether.

Feel free to add to the conversation in Twitter: @luisbaram