Tag Archives: Mark Z. Jacobson

The real worst and best cases of climate change

What do you want? The planet Venus? The current degraded Earth? Or a better world we know how to create?

What if it's a big hoax and we create a better world for nothing?
Joel Pett, Lexington Herald Leader, 18 March 2012, The cartoon seen ’round the world

Mostly I post about solar and wind power winning, which is what I think is happening. But sometimes it’s worth a reminder of what could happen if we do nothing about climate change, and I posted on my facebook page a story about that. Which actually didn’t go far enough to the real worst case. Nonetheless, that story has been attacked by numerous parties of all political and scientific and unscientific stripes for being too doom and gloom. Yet none of the attackers bothered to mention a best case beyond “the same world we have now”. I have news for you: the world we have now is an ecological catastrophe, and we can do a lot better. So here’s the real worst case, the current case, which is far from the best of all possible worlds, and the real best case, as I see it. Plus what we can do to head for the best case.

grinning fossilized skull

First, the story I posted: David Wallace-Wells, New York Magazine, 9 July 2017, The Uninhabitable Earth: Famine, economic collapse, a sun that cooks us: What climate change could wreak — sooner than you think. Notice that word “could”, which a lot of his critics seem to have ignored. He didn’t say “will”, and he clearly labeled what he was presenting as worst case scenarios.

In case anybody thinks he was making any of that stuff up, Wallace-Wells has also linked to an annotated version with footnotes for every substantial assertion. The annotated version notes at the top: Continue reading

Is Porter Ranch the natural gas industry’s Three Mile Island?

Thirty-six years ago, Three Mile Island turned public opinion against nuclear power. The worst in history, right now still spewing after three months and Los Angeles County and the state of California have declared emergencies at Porter Ranch, is the “natural” gas industry’s Three Mile Island.

Nuclear, too was touted as safe, clean, and infamously “too cheap to meter”. It turned out to be none of those things, and neither is fracked methane. Three Mile Island alone didn’t stop the thousands of nukes President Nixon promised, but it sure helped. The Porter Ranch disaster has already lasted far longer, had worse direct effects, and is in the nation’s second-largest metropolitan area.

Plus TMI was the first U.S. civilian nuclear accident. The “natural” gas industry has leaks, corrosion, fires, explosions, and now earthquakes monthly and sometimes daily. Sure, the shadow of nuclear war hung over the nuclear power industry, but the monthly fireballs from methane explosions hangs over the natural gas industry. The 2010 San Bruno, California explosion is back in the news because, says AP 13 January 2015: PROSECUTORS: PG&E RESISTED RECORD-KEEPING CHANGE AFTER SAN BRUNO BLAST.

It’s time for a complete moratorium on all new natural gas projects, like the moratorium on all new nuclear projects after Three Mile Island. Instead, let’s get on with what we didn’t have back then: solar and wind power already less expensive than any other sources of power, far cleaner and safer, much faster to deploy, using no water, and requiring no eminent domain.

In 1962 President John F. Kennedy famously said: Continue reading

100% renewable energy for U.S. by 2050

Here’s how to convert everything from air conditioners to trucks 300x170 End-Use U.S. Power Change over Time, in 100% clean and renewable wind, water, and sunlight (WWS) all-sector energy roadmaps for the 50 United States, by Mark Z. Jacobson et al., 27 May 2015 from fossil fuels to 100% renewable sun, wind, and water power by 2050, generating more jobs than would be lost from dirty energy, stopping tens of thousands of premature deaths from pollution, saving about 4% of U.S. GDP, plus saving $3.3 trillion worldwide climate change costs.

That’s 100% as in no coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear, or biomass, just clean solar, wind, and water power: 90% by 2035, 80% by 2030, and 25% by 2025. No new technology required: just existing solar, wind, and water power production with batteries and hydrogen fuel cells for transportation, plus huge efficiency savings both from using electricity directly and through other well-known techniques.

A cleaner, healthier world is within our reach. And when even the country’s most corrupt legislature can unanimously pass and the Georgia governor who took campaign funds from six pipeline companies can sign a solar financing law, while Georgia has already become the fastest-growing solar market in the country, renewable energy is producing the political will to get this done.

Stanford Report, 8 June 2015, Continue reading

100% sun, wind, and water can power each U.S. state and the world –Stanford study

We have all the technology right now that we need to power the U.S. state by state and the world with solar, wind, and water power. No burning coal or oil or fracked natural gas and no nukes. No need for any new destructive and hazardous methane pipelines. No waiting for batteries. All we have to do is get on with it.


Stanford University researchers led by civil engineer Mark Jacobson have developed detailed plans for each state in the union that to move to 100 percent wind, water and solar power by 2050 using only technology that’s already available. The plan, presented recently at the AAAS conference in Chicago, also forms the basis for The Solutions Project nonprofit.

“The conclusion is that it’s technically and economically feasible,” Jacobson told Singularity Hub.

The plan doesn’t rely, like many others, on dramatic energy efficiency regimes. Nor does it include biofuels or nuclear power, whose green credentials are the source of much debate.

The proposal is straightforward: eliminate combustion as a source of energy, because it’s dirty and inefficient. All vehicles would be powered by electric batteries or by hydrogen, where the hydrogen is produced through electrolysis rather than natural gas. High-temperature industrial processes would also use electricity or hydrogen combustion.

The rest would simply be a question of allowing existing fossil-fuel plants to age out and using renewable sources to power any new plants that come online….

“The greatest barriers to a conversion are neither technical nor economic. They are social and political,” the AAAS paper concludes.

For Georgia, that’s 40% solar PV plants, 35% offshore wind, 13% rooftop PV (6% residential and 7% commercial), 5% concentrating solar plants, 5% onshore wind, and 1% each wind, tide, and conventional hydro power. Plus 210,200 construction jobs and 101,000 operation jobs. And saving $14.3 billion per year Continue reading

Southern Company: let’s do the renewable energy study for Georgia

Mark Z. Jacobson's study shows offshore wind is plentiful from Virginia to Maine Let's do the study for Georgia! Southern Company brags about its private R&D:

Research & Development (since the 1960s)

  • Awarded more than $1.3 billion to conduct more than $3.8 billion of research and development.
  • Qualified for $412 million of investment tax credits for a 21st century coal plant being built in Mississippi.

OK, SO, let's see you do the study to show what we can really do with conservation, efficiency, wind, sun, and less natural gas than we have now. Sure, in the Georgia Bight we do have to contend with hurricanes. But a "great, big company" like SO should be able to focus its vaunted private R&D on that problem and solve it.

Maybe SO doesn't want to do that because the result might show there is no need for any coal plants, nor new natural gas plants, nor any nuclear plants, which would mean Georgia Power would have to give up its nuclear-funding rate-hike stealth tax and SO would have to give up its $8.3 billion loan guarantee. Hey, we might even need to change the 1973 Georgia Electric Territorial Act, and that might damage Georgia Power's guaranteed profit! Nevermind that Georgia Power and SO might make more profit if they got out in front on solar and wind power and a smart grid.

If SO won't do it, how about we elect some Public Service Commissioners and legislators who will? For jobs, energy independence, and profit, oh, and clean air and plenty of water!


All U.S. east coast electricity could come from offshore wind 3 seasons out of 4

Why build nukes when wind can provide 3/4 of our power? While Southern Company claims to be “a company that is engaged in offering solutions, not just rhetoric”, yet does nothing about wind off the Georgia coast, researchers in far California have demonstrated we can get 3/4 of all needed east coast electricity from offshore wind.

Bjorn Carey wrote for Stanford Report 14 September 2012, Offshore wind energy could power entire U.S. East Coast, Stanford scientists say

A new analysis by Stanford researchers reveals that there is enough offshore wind along the U.S. East Coast to meet the electricity demands of at least one-third of the country.

The scientists paid special attention to the Maine-to-Virginia corridor; the historical lack of strong hurricanes in the region makes it a favorable site for offshore wind turbines. They found that turbines placed there could satisfy the peak-time power needs of these states for three seasons of the year (summer is the exception).

“We knew there was a lot of wind out there, but this is the first actual quantification of the total resource and the time of day that the resource peaks,” said Mark Z. Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford who directed the research. “This provides practical information to wind farm developers about the best areas to place turbines.”

Mark Z. Jacobson already worked out a framework for powering the entire world from wind, water, and sun alone. The late John Blackburn, Ph.D., showed us how to power North Carolina with sun, wind, and hydro, plus less natural gas than NC uses now. Now Jacobson is working out the details of implementation.


PS: Owed to Seth Gunning.

Energy reliability: let’s do the study for Georgia

Which energy source is really more reliable? Nuclear, coal, or wind, water, and sun?

As Plant Vogtle and others have just demonstrated, nuclear power isn’t as reliable as we might have thought. Mark Z. Jacobson says we can generate reliable power from wind, water, and sunlight alone. Will that work in Georgia?

Elsevier’s policy of charging for peer-reviewed articles from scientific journals is controversial, and some people find $19.95 prohibitive to access Mark Z. Jacobson and Mark A. Delucchi’s Providing all global energy with wind, water, and solar power, Part I: Technologies, energy resources, quantities and areas of infrastructure, and materials from Energy Policy Volume 39, Issue 3, March 2011, Pages 1154-1169. Fortunately, the same authors wrote an earlier version for Scientific American, 26 October 2009, A Plan to Power 100 Percent of the Planet with Renewables: Wind, water and solar technologies can provide 100 percent of the world’s energy, eliminating all fossil fuels. Here’s how

A new infrastructure must provide energy on demand at least as reliably as the existing infrastructure. WWS technologies generally suffer less downtime than traditional sources. The average U.S. coal plant is offline 12.5 percent of the year for scheduled and unscheduled maintenance. Modern wind turbines have a down time of less than 2 percent on land and less than 5 percent at sea. Photovoltaic systems are also at less than 2 percent. Moreover, when an individual wind, solar or wave device is down, only a small fraction of production is affected; when a coal, nuclear or natural gas plant goes offline, a large chunk of generation is lost.
Continue reading

Nuclear (Stewart Brand) vs. renewable energy (Mark Z. Jacobson) at TED

Stewart Brand of Whole Earth Catalog fame is a long-time environmentalist who in recent years decided nuclear was necessary. (He also decided no-till was necessary, which was enough to convince me he’s gone barmy.) Here at TED he debates Mark Z. Jacobson, whose new study says we can power the world with wind, water, and sun. I think Jacobson should reconsider including building more hydroelectric dams, but his study does demonstrate that we don’t need nuclear or biomass. But watch it and see what you think:

Here is my critique of Brand’s arguments: Continue reading