Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Year End Review: Climate and Energy Miscalculations

There have been some epic mistakes in the area of climate change in 2014. Each of the following four errors have serious consequences. Here are some egregious examples of miscalculations in the areas of renewable energy, climate models, climate denial and the Keystone XL pipeline.

Renewable Energy

Some economists have radically under-appreciated the value of renewable energy. Wind energy and solar power are actually far more price competitive with fossil fuels than some economists have suggested. A wide range of metrics reveal that wind and photovoltaic (PV) solar are growing fast due in large part to declining costs and improving productivity. These findings are at odds with a flawed Brookings Institution working paper by economist Charles R. Frank Jr. who erroneously claimed that solar and wind were more costly than previously thought. Frank's analysis is flawed because it is premised on inaccurate and outdated assumptions.

Climate Models

Some climate models have underestimated the degree of warming we can expect. Current models predict that the earth will warm by a minimum of 1.5 degrees Celsius by the middle of the century. However new research on clouds suggest that the actual minimum level of warming will at least 3 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.

US Climate Denial

We underestimate the power of climate denial in the United States. It is logical to think that people will come around to the truth, but as resistance to evolution demonstrates, some forms of ignorance are pernicious and will not go gently into the night.

Keystone XL

The Keystone XL pipeline will generate four times more carbon emissions than originally predicted. According to research by the Stockholm Environment Institute, the KXL will cause the price of oil to fall and this will increase consumption and generate an additional 121 million tons of carbon per year. That is more that four times more that the figure of 30 million tons contained in the State Department report.



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