How about that hiatus?

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administratioh has just released its global climate analysis for May 2015. The results

May 2015 was

* The warmest May on record globally
* The warmest May on record on land
* The warmest May on record on the oceans
* The warmest May on record in the Northern Hemisphere
* The warmest May on record in the Southern Hemisphere

Also, the warmest March-May, Jan-May and (I think) 12-month period in the record.

Comment is superfluous, but don’t let that stop you.

132 thoughts on “How about that hiatus?

  1. @Ronald Brak
    I admit I’m not entirely sure of the point you’re seeking to make, Ronald. Apart from the fact that I don’t accept that offsets are a complete and durable solution (rather, they are a ‘better than nothing’ stop-gap, although they are the only option for jet travel until low-emissions fuels are developed). Apart from that, I don’t think we’re in disagreement.

  2. @BilB
    BilB, I’m not sure why you think Audi-style synfuel can only be realistically produced with nuclear power. Anything that can be produced using nuclear power can be produced with hydroelectricity and probably with solar or wind energy as well. In all likelihood, more cheaply too.

  3. Ivor, thanks for the concern, but I haven’t missed any points that I wanted to make. I pointed out that flying from Australia to London does not result in 8 tonnes of CO2 emissions. And I pointed out that zero net emissions flying is pretty trivial matter for people in wealthy nations such as Australia.

  4. Tim, just making the points that zero net emissions flight is a trivial matter for people in wealthy nations. And I made a point that there is unlikely to be a return to sea travel. What is an offset?

  5. TimMacknay,

    The shear amount of energy required to produce a product at 50% to 25% efficiency. I have demonstrated that it is feasible to produce all of Australia’s electricity from 12 million 4.5 kw PVT systems including running the entire national vehicle fleet , at least in principle. But that requires that the vehicles are powered electrically at 90% efficiency. If the electricity is to be used to produce a fuel that is then burnt in internal combustion engines at 25% efficiency this becomes far less economic. It would take the claims of the Nuclear lobby of near zero electricity cost, and 100% safe and reliable to be true for that level of energy loss to be a viable solution.

    I believe that shipping has to be powered by Nuclear energy in the future. But the fact thathis has not happened despite there being 100 container ships per year being manufactured in just 1 Korean ship yard says a number of things.

    Nuclear cannot compete head on with fossil fuel energy for operational cost despite its claimed tiny cost of fuel. Secondly that being the case to manufacture synthetic fuel using nuclear energy at half the efficiency to burn in diesel engines cannot be even slightly economic. Thirdly if reactors cannot be built economically for ships despite the opportunity for assembly line mass production, then the notion that they can be rolled out cheaply for land based use has got to be false.

  6. Ronald Brak :
    zero net emissions flying is pretty trivial matter for people in wealthy nations such as Australia.

    What does this even mean?

    Wealthy nations do not control CO2 emissions.

    Wealthy nations have no intention of ever implementing zero-emissions flights, passenger ships or land transport.

    1 barrel of oil produces between 1/3 to 1/2 tonne of CO2.

  7. Ivor, “…zero net emissions flying is pretty trivial matter for people in wealthy nations such as Australia”, means that people will still be able to fly and will still fly even if they are required not to increase the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by doing so. This is clear from the fact that although flying was reduce when oil cost $147 US a barrel, people still travelled by air.

  8. BillB at some point nuclear ships will be cheaper than oil or synfuel powered were it not for the likely minefield of legal impediments eg the inability to dock in NZ. I notice though that Qld premier Palaszczuk recently welcomed the USS George Washington to Brisbane having previously said words to the effect it was strictly a coal town.

    This week Germany closes the 1350 MW Grafenrheinfeld nuclear plant. No need to fear tsunamis now. In March it opened the 800 MW Moorburg coal plant that will need imported hard coal eg from the US. Perhaps I’m channelling Basil Fawlty but the Germans seem to me to think in odd ways.

  9. I think that Nuclear for shipping can be affordable now, Hermit, the problem is that the industry has completely let that business possibility go past while they waited for multi billion dollar opportunities guaranteed by governments. The New Zealand moratorium on nuclear weapons keeps coming up, but that is just one tiny country, hardly a road block. The Toshiba 4s 100 megawatt reactor could be adapted apart from, and I am guessing here, that it cannot be ramped. I think that it is kicked off and runs at a steady state for 30 years. There is a possibility that it can be damped by rotating the reflector plates though I could see that as feature in the design images available.

    It is unrealistic to talk about container sailing ships powered by wind. The amount of shipping required completely excludes that.

    The real reason why it has not occurred is that it is investment institutions that want to invest in high earning infrastructure with a long stable operating life, base load nuclear fits that profile perfectly. the fly in the ointment is rooftop solar which by its very nature diminishes the customer base and can render a nuclear plant uneconomic in a relatively short time frame, hence the anti solar negativity campaign by some interest groups. Shipping does not suit the insurance investment profile, and so the designs have not been explored. It is going to take an international agreement to kick off nuclear shipping, and the climate talks are the right place for that to happen. I suspect though that the vested interest are too locked into their channel to broaden their thinking into shipping.

  10. Some odd reasoning there BilB. As far as I know solar doesn’t supply grid electricity at night which could be why the Germans are building new coal plants nearly a decade into their green energy program. There were some interesting facts in an article by Sid Maher in The Australian which seems to be paywalled on the second look. We here in sunny Oz have 4 GW of solar capacity the Germans have 55 GW I believe. Yet if I recall the article Berlin gets just one hour of direct sunlight a day in December. The magic of mandates. If coal stations close because of solar fair enough but I think here the main reason is the manufacturing downturn.

  11. The “Australian” and “facts” are mutually exclusive terms, Hermit. December sunrise in Berlin 8.17 and sunset 4.00, that would be a safe 6 hours of sunlight(just one hour shorter than midwinter Christchurch NZ where I lived for 17 years) . Germany is installing new power plants because the DesertTech programme came to a grinding halt with the Arab Spring and the subsequent instability across the top of Africa. This was both a tragedy for Africa and for Europe in many ways. But you can’t expect a dirty dish rag like the Australian to even faintly understand what is going on in the world, let alone report on it with any authenticity.

    Why do you bother saying things like

    “As far as I know solar doesn’t supply grid electricity at night “?

    …for starters it is blatantly obvious that the sun does not shine at night, which is the perpetual jibe of the Nuclear lobby, but at the same time the statement is factually false. The Andesol solar plant in Spain is delivering grid electricity into the night as are plants in the US, and elsewhere. The fact there is not a lot of it is entirely due to political stupidity, bad luck (Africa), and the ignorant tactics of the anti science Libertarian brigade.

  12. Ronald Brak :
    people will still be able to fly and will still fly even if they are required not to increase the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by doing so. This is clear from the fact that although flying was reduce when oil cost $147 US a barrel, people still travelled by air.

    This does not describe zero net emissoin flights.

  13. yet another scheme, that may just go the way of every other.


    Still it is interesting.

    Of course our capitalists will out-flank any such schemes.

  14. Tim, no I’m not joking. I just wanted to get a definition before I used the word. As you know, some people get easily confused. But actually it probably doesn’t matter. Now that I have had time to consider, I don’t think I have anything useful to add on the topic of offsets at the moment.

  15. Ikonoclast, if you don’t fully understand something, and clearly in this case you don’t, ask questions. When you see photogaphs of technology it might be real, when you see anmated graphics it is imaginary. AirBus, as aviation technology has lead times in the decades, are attempting now to anticipate where the industry must be 30 years from now. I thought that was pretty clear from the presentation. An aircraft only uses 80% of its power during takeoff and climb, after that the vehcle is powering back all the way to landing. That means in a 4 engined aircraft that at least 2 of the engines after the initial climb are along for the ride, and therefore are hugely expensive in fuel terms for the full duration of the flight. AirBus are examining the the prospects of a hybrid aircraft where one engine works at capacity for most of the flight and the bulk of the work is done by fans, powered from both the engine and a storage battery, the blue thing in the middle. The hybrid aircraft takes off using battery and engine power, cruises on the power from the one engine, not 4, and recovers energy during decent when the aircraft returns to dense air at lower altitude, charging the batteries for the next flight. The shorter the flight the greater the benefit, 1 to 2 hour flights the savings are huge, 10 hour flight savings are less but still significant.

    All of this is for the second half of this century, an equally important economic period for future human beings. With some 20,000 major passenger aircraft flying ( a difficult figure to nail down) change for aviation fuel consumption is not going to be instantaneous, but that does not mean that there is no point in finding solutions. “Can’t fix it now so don’t bother” is not an acceptable position.

    What you did was glance at the presentation, didn’t understand it, didn’t seek more information, then made the “not a battery aircraft people, nothing to see here”, pronouncement. Not what I would have expected from someone as generally astute as you are. I was shocked. This is what I have come to expect from Jonovians, or the BNC egotistical nutters, not Ikonoclast. It really puts into doubt the comprehension skills of the Average Australian. I have been talking about the hardware of alternative energy here for nearly a decade, and I am struggling to think of a single question to the material that was not an attempted put down,… in all that time. It might be why high enders such as Robert Merkel don’t bother sharing their knowledge and powers of analysis any more.

  16. Absolutely, Ikonoclast, “by as much as much as two thirds”. That is every possibility from nothing to two thirds. I haven’t misrepresented you, other than saying you sought no new information. Yous did in fact track down NASA’s lift body concept which has some common elements, not that you earnt anything. Your conclusion, uses fuel, not battery powered. Wrong. As I said prior this is a hybrid power system, the aifbus presentatoon clearly shows the system has a very large battery, in the middle on the center of lift, which contributes to take off power, then recharges at cruise and on decent. The fuel savings are considerable, the system is engine assisted battery power. Your conclusion “These are not battery powered aircraft. Just in case anyone is under that misapprehension” , is false, and as you have so little grasp of the technology despite the very straight forward presentation I am left wondering why you felt a need to make the statement you did.

  17. @BilB

    In an effort to clarify my position once again;

    (1) There is not enough technical information in the videos alone to form a clear picture of what this technology might achieve.

    (2) I did go and find that NASA article so I did look for more information.

    (3) The “jet” is a hybrid craft not a battery powered craft so I was correct in saying it was not battery powered flight. (A fully battery powered vehicle or aircraft stores the energy for the entire journey in the battery.)

    (4) I did not denigrate the concept, I simply sought clarification.

    (5) The design program for the jet-electric or turbine-electric aircraft is still highly theoretical for now; at least in composite as a complete system. I was correct in pointing this out.

    (6) Saying something is still at the theoretical design stage is not the same as saying it will never happen. However, it does leave open the possibility that it might not happen.

    (7) The commercialisation implementation timetable is still long term not near term. In this sense it is like Gen IV nuclear reactors: a technology which might never come to commercial fruition and even if it does it will be too late to have any significant impact on CO2 emissions in time to stop dangerous global warming.

    (8) Having said the above, it might indeed come to fruition and it might indeed be useful as part of a total electrical economy which is sustainable past 2050. That is a good sign.

    It all boils down to whether you can understand a nuanced, realistic position on the topic rather than a Pollyanna futurist position.

  18. All these initiatives need to be kept in mind.

    However lobbyists and political representatives of capitalism have not demonstrated the necessary intention to use these to abolish fossil fuels.

    They expect that electric power will only emerge when it can out compete fossil fuel while still providing the same rate of profit.

    So while governments can run solar-powered buses (eg Adelaide’s Tindo bus) the rest of capitalist production still runs on fossil – diesel, gas, petrol.

    Technology is one thing – capitalism is the problem.

  19. @Ivor

    I agree. Capitalism is the wrong system for the next steps humanity needs to make if we are to avoid a future of barbarism or extinction. Those who defend capitalism as the final system, the ne plus ultra of all economic systems, are the same style of unimaginative defenders of an oppressive and exploitative status quo as those who in their day defended absolutism, slavery, theocracy, medievalism and so on. They can conceive of no other system other than that which is extant in their own time and which (of course) advantages them.

  20. Not to mention that the Solar Impulse II has broken the record for the longest non-stop solo flight in aviation history – 76 hours across the Pacific Ocean on the way from Japan to Hawaii, powered purely by solar energy. While we obviously won’t be jumping in Solar Impulse II-type aircraft for our next trip to Bali, it’s a symbol of what is possible.

  21. Exactly, TimM. And Solar Impulse is a technology experimental platform. There are a lot of systems being tested in this exercise, and huge amounts of data collected. But you don’t need a 24 hour solar plane to have fun. For the more casual daytime only flying couple there is Sunseeker Duo. Most of the same features of the international effort from a husband and wife team.

  22. Here is an excellent more personal video telling the Airbus electric story. It is about exploration, challenge, and achievement.

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