Political Fantasy Like Levitation & Time Travel

End the use of ‘fossil’ fuels to solve the climate emergency! No worries, we can do that. Just need to build a few alternatives. Like:

  • Here in NZ, 4.5 windfarms per year.
  • Canada needs 2.5 huge hydro dams per year.
  • Globally it is only a 1.5-gigawatt nuclear plant every day for the next 30 years.

Since we can promise to build 100,000 homes in 10 years, this will be easy for us. Zero Carbon here we come. ‘Fossil’ fuels are dead! Ye ha!

Or not! Here is some analysis from the Financial Post. (Canadian centric)

Judging from the headlines, Canada and the world are on track to ratchet up renewable energy and begin the rapid scale-down and ultimate phase-out of fossil fuels. Most energy analysts consider the fossil-fuel phase-out to be a scientific, economic and political fantasy, akin to levitation and time travel, but the movement keeps making news.

Governments everywhere — from Canada to the United Kingdom to states in Australia — are declaring climate emergencies and committing to variations on zero emissions. The international organization promoting emergency declarations claims “a fast transition to zero emissions is possible.”

Canada’s Green Party, said to be gaining ground, has a new platform plan, headlined “Mission: Possible,” to eliminate fossil fuels by 2050. A proposed Green New Deal in America aims to eliminate fossil fuels from the U.S. power grid by 2030 and phase gasoline out of the transportation sector.[…]

So what are the carbon zeroists talking about? Aside from massive amounts of government intervention — almost a total takeover of the economy — the practicality of it all looks a bit impossible, to put it mildly. As the graph below suggests, the required technological and economic change could be a little overwhelming.

The general scale of the operation is hinted at by Climate Mobilization, an organization promoting climate emergency declarations: “Only WWII-scale Climate Mobilization can protect humanity and the natural world.”[…]

To produce the electric power needed to offset the lost fossil fuel energy, Canada would have to build 2.5 hydro power dams the size of British Columbia’s $13-billion Site C project somewhere in the country “every year for the foreseeable future” leading up to the proposed 2050 carbon reduction targets. The geographic and cost obstacles send that prospect into the realm of the impossible.

On a global basis, the magnitude of the implied decarbonization effort illustrated in the graph takes us beyond the possible and into the world of junk science fiction. In 2018, world consumption of fossil fuels rose to 11,865 million tonnes of oil equivalent (mtoe). To get that down to near zero by 2050 as proposed by the zeroists would require a lot of alternative energy sources.

University of Colorado scientist Roger Pielke Jr. did some of the rough numbers. “There are 11,161 days until 2050. Getting to net zero by 2050 requires replacing one mtoe of fossil fuel consumption every day starting now.” On a global basis, such a transition would require building the equivalent of one new 1.5-gigawatt nuclear plant every day for the next 30 years. […]

Financial Post

Don’t like nuclear? Okay, let’s go solar. According to a U.S. government site, it takes about three million solar panels to produce one gigawatt of energy. (When the sun shines.) We need 1.5gW per day, which means 4.5 million solar panels installed every day until 2050. That’s only about 50 billion panels, the Chinese can make them, no sweat.

Or perhaps wind? This only requires about 430 new wind turbines each of the 11,161 days leading to 2050. (And just the right amount of wind.) What another 4.8 million bird chompers will do to the extinction rate is unstated.

So long as the Chinese don’t start getting precious about the supply of rare earth metals that are needed to make wind turbine generator magnets we should be fine.

Yup, it seems that James and Megan have it all sorted. Easy as!

Or as Darryl would say …