I wrote about the Red Queen’s race for diesel fuel here.
Tad Patzek today wrote about the Green Queen’s race for electricity.
Tad begins by pointing out that a recently update climate model is predicting more than 1 degree of additional warming than the previous model for our current CO2 levels. That’s bad news but seems consistent with what we observe every day in the news.
Then Tad gets to his main point:
…since 2004, the annual increases of total electricity consumption in the world have outpaced all electricity production by all PV arrays in the world…
This means that the Green Queen is not only not keeping up, she’s not even in the race. Except for one year, 2009, when the economy crashed.
And we haven’t even begun to replace the other 84% of fossil energy that we use for non-electricity applications like heating, fertilizer, tractors, trucks, trains, ships, planes, mining, steel, cement, glass, etc..
Thus, there are no other paths but to shrink, shrink more and transit away from fossil fuels.
Once again I observe that facts don’t matter and denial defines our species.
28 thoughts on “By Tad Patzek: On the Green Queen’s Race”
Excellent…thanks for posting this, Rob!
Highly recommend reading the whole multi-part GND series on Patzek’s blog; well worth it.
Agree – great series of articles with the addition of some killer quotes from some of his friends and correspondents.
Yes, the other essays by Patzek in this series are also good…
Part 1: The New Green Revolution, a.k.a. The Grand Transition to… ??
Part 2: Green New Deal
Part 3: Green New Deal, How?
Part 4: Green New Deal, Any Other Paths?
Here are some excellent video talks by Patzek that I’ve posted in the past…
I like Professor Tad because he is very knowledgeable & he don’t sugar coat.
Another domino falls. Latin America now imports more oil than it exports.
I like David Attenborough because he makes great nature docs that in addition to teaching about a particular species always stress & demonstrate the 1st rule of ecology – everything is connected. I think many people have learned more about the ‘natural’ world from watching Attenborough docs than they learned all through k-12.
Just sharing this from today because it’s on topic
David Attenborough says it’s ‘extraordinary’ climate deniers are in power in Australia
“Appearing before the UK parliament’s business, energy and industrial strategy committee on how to tackle the climate emergency, the celebrated broadcaster and natural historian was asked about claims people were overreacting to the threat of a climate emergency.
He replied: “I am sorry that there are people who are in power … notably, of course, [in] the United States but also in Australia [who are climate change deniers], which is extraordinary because Australia is already facing having to deal with some of the most extreme manifestations of climate change.”
I don’t think it’s ‘extraordinary’ that climate deniers are in power in Australia or America. I think it’s absurd & to be expected givfn my understanding of what the humans are.
What’s he difference between Trump & Trudeau? Trump denies AGW and uses what power he has to help the fossil fuel industry. Trudeau does not deny AGW & says all the right ‘fight climate change’ talking points and then uses what power he has to help the fossil fuel industry.
What’s the diff?
Deniers everywhere of all stripes. As far as I’m concerned anyone who thinks or hopes humans can change and mitigate the consequences of their self inflicted predicaments, at a scale that matters, or effectively address most of their myriad of self inflicted problems, is in denial.
My question is how can hope continue when every year the things they hope to be remedied get worse? By the numbers it goes further in the opposite direction every year – across the board.
The hope, like the denial & insatiable reward seeking is hardwired. Effectively unchangeable except for a few outliers on the behavioral bell curve who make no difference. Kinda like asexuals who live their lives without sex or reproducing. They have always been around but because they are such a tiny minority, they make no difference in population numbers one way or another. Through the evolutionary lens they don’t fit & nor do gays, but they are there, generation after generation regardless. I’m not sure about a genetic mutation in those ‘non denier’ doomer types, because I’m one of them – a thermodynamic & evolutionary determinist, but only changed my thinking to that, slowly over the last 20 years through much study & observation and only gave up all hope about 10 years ago. Perhaps it’s epigenitics? A no hope, no denial switch mechanism got turned on by our environment – the pending collapse of techno industrial civilization with a massive die-back and every increasing probability of die-off. That’ll throw that switch every time. I hope they isolate the no hope no denial gene, then that way we’ll be eligible for disability & possibly reparations if we can find someone or thing, living or dead, to pin it on. I await my monthly government cheques with bated breath.
Haha. Nice one.
I too am a fan of Attenborough. I have over 360 of his videos in my collection.
You are right, there is no difference between Trump and Trudeau in what counts, behavior, although I suppose you could argue that Trudeau is a polite idiot rather than a rude idiot.
I think denial, hope, and optimism in the face of unpleasant realities are all the same thing, and is uniquely hardwired in humans. Reward seeking, also hardwired, is present in all species.
I did not become collapse aware until I was about 50 but I know that I’ve been different all of my life because the most important question for me about everything has always been why? For example, of course religions are wacky, but the really interesting question for me is why do the majority believe in them? Of course climate scientists are correct, but the really interesting question for me is why do they still fly and why do they remain willfully ignorant of the thermodynamic laws that govern our economy?
I’m betting if you reflect on your early life you will see some differences that point to a genetic abnormality related to reality denial.
It could be as our friend James has suggested, that some of us just have atypical brain wiring. If one has that & is exposed to at least some formal education & has access to the nearly unlimited knowledge base (libraries, internet, experts) like we had/have the privileged of having, that may be one of the reasons why. I’ve noticed something about many so called doomers – they seem to be very curious -Why daddy why? – regardless of their varied occupations and formal education levels.
I played a number of sports at the most competitive levels as a kid & teen & it was/is a popular meme among coaches that you cannot teach speed. You can tweak it but, you either have it or you don’t. I think the same applies to curiosity – it can’t be taught. You either have it or you don’t.
I dropped out in grade 9, but was always reading, reading, reading & asking people questions & never stopped, nor could I if I tried. I think it would make me feel uncomfortable & restless to give it up or have it taken away. I could manage, without the internet, which I never had until I was 30 years old, but not having books or access to them would be tough.
My dad was an elementary school teacher & many friends would think that somehow was an advantage for me, but the only time my dad came to the kitchen table to assist me or my brother & sister was for math. My dad was also curious & a life long learner (to a lesser degree than me). Among my parents hundreds of books, they had an encyclopedia set, a bunch of different atlases & other reference books & for every non math question anyone of us asked dad gave the same answer every time – Look it up. If there was an advantage it was that he made us do the work. We also had a ‘chores’ scheduled on our fridge & they were kinda strict about it.
Other than the extreme curiosity, I have what many people who have know me well, call a ‘freakish’ memory. Later in life, I realized I was intuitively doing a lot of association, but I’m not sure that explains all of it because there is a powerful emotional component to memories of experiences that is different than all the facts, figures & trivial bits of science, history, etc. It’s had it’s advantages, but it’s a double edged sword since I vividly remember most of the bad shit as far back as 4 years old & that has been troublesome to say the least. I’ve informally tested some of these memories by telling them to my aunts, uncles & family friends & comparing them to their memories of the same thing & they were impressed with my recall. Although most people have inaccurate memories and even rewrite them through the passing years, so I have to factor that in.
About 5 years ago I recalled to my aunt a memory of the day my parents separated during the school summer holidays a couple of months before I turned 6. My dad, 2 uncles, 2 ants & 2 of their friends were all drinking & listening to music (Cat Stevens & Blood, Sweat & Tears albums). My mom was working, but was hours late getting home. When she finally showed up she was half drunk and with a coworker. They went to the Calgary Stampede on a whim after work for a few hours, but no phone call. Dad flipped out when mom got home and threw a bunch of my moms clothes on the road. My aunts gathered them up & dad threw them on the road again. My mom grabbed some of her stuff & my sister & I did not see them again for 18 months. My aunt started crying when I told her my recollection of that incident and said, “I always hoped you kids would not remember that day”. I asked both my brother & sister and they do not remember the incident, just that our family was broken up & separated for 18 months. I remember all sorts of things just as vividly with all these seemingly unimportant details like what music was playing, what people were wearing,the weather, etc.
It appears there is something going on that prevents my cognitive biases from doing their job of filtering or scrubbing my unpleasant memories like they do for most people. This is most likely why I’m not in denial or willful ignorance about the big pickle we are in. Hell, many times I wish I was – wandering around our consumer paradise in beautiful blissful ignorance.
Very interesting. I wonder if curiosity is a side effect of having a lower tendency to deny unpleasant realities? Seems to correlate well with the fact that people who think economic growth is good and normal never ask what the implications of exponential growth are.
I too have some unpleasant memories of early life. They may be the source of my jaded view that love is just one of evolution’s inventions for increasing reproductive fitness, as is our insatiable desire for more which manifests as economic growth being the top priority of every country in the world.
“the Green Queen is not only not keeping up, she’s not even in the race”
Funny that this line appears immediately above a graph showing that that “green queen” is catching up, and catching up from an abysmally-low start just a few years previous. IOW, the “green queen” is doing just fine, and as good as could possibly be expected at this early date in its evolution.
I think you may have misread the graph. It is a little confusing. It compares the annual CHANGE in total electricity consumption, with the annual TOTAL PV production. This does mean that PV is not even in the race.
Tim Morgan today confirmed Patzek’s observation…
Morgan observes that the construction rate of renewable energy is proportional to available subsidies. I would add that subsidies are made possible by surplus wealth, and surplus wealth is made possible by affordable fossil energy, and so as fossil energy depletes we will build less renewable energy. Thus there will be no transition to anything other than a medieval lifestyle, at best.
Tim Watkins elaborates on the same issue…
Germany is one of the few countries in the world that has made an honest effort to reduce carbon emissions by switching to non-fossil energy. Alice Friedemann explains that Germany’s program has failed, as will any other country that tries to run a modern civilization on PV and wind. The underlying physics won’t permit it. Rapid population reduction is the only useful policy for reducing future suffering.
Mac10 had a triple espresso today…
“This is the first society in human history that is borrowing its way out of a debt crisis.”
“Something” happened after 2008 whereby this society – monkey hammered by two asset bubbles in a row – decided to turn its back entirely on reality.”
“Five of the top ten grossing movies of all time are comic book movies from the past decade. In other words, fifty years ago, the U.S. was launching 6 million pound rockets to the moon and back, at the beyond Earth’s orbit speed of 25,000 miles per hour, 15x speed of a bullet. Now we have record numbers of Disney comic book movies for adult audiences. The Saturn V remains the most powerful rocket ever launched into space. Do the words “what the fuck happened” ever come to mind?”
“As it was in 2007, lenders are Ponzi lending to their own clients to paper over the erosion of solvency. Neither side wants to admit the party is over. Remember the ratings agencies that lied in 2007 and said all of that subprime alchemy was ‘AAA’? Well, they are lying again, because they have a conflict of interest in keeping this party going as long as possible.”
“The amount of leverage, or debt to GDP, is up less dramatically, from 208 percent in June 2008 to 231 percent in June 2018.”
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The Modern Struggle by Naval Ravikant
“All our diseases are diseases of abundance.”
The Stock-Buyback Swindle
This article has 2 traits common to almost everything written by “experts” today.
First, it observes some interesting fact:
Second, the explanation offered by the experts demonstrates a total ignorance of the underlying cause. They never see the obvious:
Q: Why do companies buy their own stocks?
A: Because there isn’t an alternate investment that offers a better return.
Q: Why isn’t there a better alternative?
A: Because we’ve hit limits to growth caused by depletion of low cost energy.
Q: Why don’t experts understand this?
A: Humans evolved to deny unpleasant realities. In addition, some experts, like economists, are idiots.
Report: Average American Must Have Life Ruined By Natural Disaster Every 6 Minutes To Fear Climate Change
“EUGENE, OR—Outlining what a shift in public consciousness regarding global ecocatastrophe might require, a study published by researchers at the University of Oregon Monday found the average American must have their life destroyed by a natural disaster every six minutes in order to finally fear climate change. “According to our data, American citizens must lose their home to a flash flood, almost immediately watch a tornado ravage their hometown, and then succumb to heatstroke in 110 degree temperatures before recognizing climate change as a viable threat,” said head researcher and professor Vanessa Verrier, citing the tendency of U.S. citizens to forget about global warming roughly 10 minutes after their homes were devastated by wildfires. “Roughly seven minutes following a climate disaster, ambivalence sets in and Americans forget why these natural disasters have increased so dramatically in recent years. The good news, however, is that in the five minutes directly after losing a loved one in a hurricane, participants were much more likely to consider reducing their carbon footprint by taking public transit rather than driving.” The report estimated that the nation would have to suffer 34,000 consecutive natural disasters this month in order to garner significant support for climate change legislation.”
Tim Watkins elaborates on the link between energy and the economy.
Earth Overshoot Day this year is July 29.
On July 29 we will have used all of the resources that the planet can regenerate each year. The resources we consume for the balance of the year come from drawing down natural capital, aka eating our seed corn.
Basically we’re consuming twice what the earth can provide in the long term. The reality is much worse if we consider the needs of other species which are going extinct at a record pace. In addition, some big factors like soil depletion, are apparently not included in the calculation.
When I was 12 years old in 1970 we were not yet in overshoot.
Another side effect of renewable energy. In this case our denial genes can take a break because it’s out of sight and out of mind.
Tim Watkins explains that the UK may be the first developed country to be forced to live without electricity being available 24/7, perhaps as soon as next winter.
Tad Patzek in part 6 of his series explains that oil will begin to decline at about 7% per year any day now which means no one except the military will be flying in about 10 years and cars will stop shortly thereafter.
Oh, and there’s also a heatwave in the Arctic and Greenland is melting much faster than the experts predicted.
Where are the adults?
Kurt Cobb: The wheels come off shale oil
“So far this summer season we have heard two unthinkable utterances come from shale oil industry executives. The first linked above was that the industry has destroyed 80 percent of the capital entrusted to it since 2008. This came from a CEO no longer in the industry.
The second, however, came from one of the largest players in the Permian Basin, the hotbed of shale oil activity. Pioneer Natural Resources CEO Scott Sheffield said that the industry is running out of so-called Tier-1 acreage. That’s oil-speak for “sweet spots.” Those are the circumscribed areas in shale deposits within which extraction costs are low enough to justify drilling.”
When James Kunstler occasionally steers clear of politics and gender issues, and instead focuses on oil, he is an excellent read, as for example today’s piece.
I would add to Kunstler’s observations that I don’t think Trump (and many other people) realize how dependent we have become on China for almost everything we need to maintain our lifestyles. That would include one of the foundations of our civilization, the parts necessary to build Caterpillar machines.
China knows how to live with extreme poverty. We don’t.
Tad Patzek concludes his series by discussing 2 intersecting predicaments that I have discussed many times on this blog.
Assuming it’s not already too late to constrain climate change from destroying civilization (and it may well be too late) we must rapidly reduce CO2 emissions, which can only happen with rapid voluntary reductions in population and wealth. In parallel with this reality, fossil energy depletion will reduce our total wealth by 50% (and population by some significant amount) within 20 years, regardless of what we want or do.
This means that what we should do but won’t do will happen anyway, but probably too late.
Where are the adults?
As a sidebar, Patzek makes an interesting observation that the current burning of the Amazon has been caused in part by the US’s decision to stop exporting soybeans and beef to China.