[Coral-List] CO2 risks for coral reefs - and achieving "the shift (off petroleum) much more rapidly."

Risk, Michael riskmj at mcmaster.ca
Fri Sep 11 07:40:39 EDT 2015

Doug, colleagues:

In that reefs will have a hard time in future acidic oceans (assuming there will be any left by then) I guess the shift off petroleum is a fit subject for discussion here. But events are outpacing discussion. Almost every day brings news of some new development in solar technology. Naomi Klein's book "This changes everything" cites several studies that outline how we could get off oil in 25 years-if we start now.

The main problem is psychological. Most people cannot imagine a world without oil-"but what about the...? (Insert favourite process)" and that is exactly what the oil companies are counting on. Abundant studies also exist showing that the cost of doing nothing is far higher than the cost of acting. So we have met the enemy, and he is us.

There is no "phosphate problem." P is the 11th most abundant element in the earth's crust, the US alone has >300 years of reserves-and plate tectonics exposes new phosphate at about the rate we are using it.

Now excuse me while I cut some more firewood and pump up my bicycle tires.

From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov [coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] on behalf of Douglas Fenner [douglasfennertassi at gmail.com]
Sent: September 10, 2015 11:32 PM
To: Durwood M. Dugger
Cc: coral list
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] CO2 risks for coral reefs - and achieving "the shift (off petroleum) much more rapidly."

     I don't think that the world is going to suddenly stop using fossil
fuels, particularly oil.  I don't think I've read other people saying it
will stop suddenly.
     It will take
​ some​
 time to find substitutes for oil in some applications.  It seems likely
that it will be difficult to find substitutes for oil for ships and
aviation.  However, the US Navy is planning on using 50% renewable energy
by 2020.  It seems hard to imagine how they could do it that fast.  But the
point is that they clearly think that they can make a major shift towards
using a lot
more renewable energy, and surprisingly fast.  Aviation may well be a lot
more difficult.  But difficult is not the same as impossible.  Impossible
is forever, and forever is a long time, particularly with all the
innovation and discoveries coming out at a steady pace.  For example, the
Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell vehicle is being sold this year in
California.  Transportation may use around 1/3 of the oil used, only a
portion of it being used for ships and aviation.  But it is a substantial
amount of oil that may take a fair time to replace, and will likely be
replaced gradually.  Even cars will not be replaced with electric vehicles
instantly, it will take time even if all goes well.  It can be done, but it
will take time.
     Oil is also used as a feedstock for the chemical industry, some of
their products are vital to the economy, I would think.  I don't think it
is necessarily wise for us to burn what we need for feedstock.  Also, the
feedstock industry will continue even if we stop burning oil.
     On the other hand, coal is the dirtiest of fossil fuels and can be
replaced completely.  That is already well underway with conversion of coal
fired electric plants to natural gas.  Natural gas has the advantage of
producing much less non-CO2 air pollution and somewhat less CO2 pollution
than coal.  It's climate impact will depend on whether methane leaks are
stopped or not.  I seem to remember that Obama has a new proposal to reduce
some methane leaks.  Leaks can be reduced to low levels.
      Further, I don't think the advantages of scale will be reduced if we
go from 100% of current oil consumption to 90% or even to 30%.  The highest
up-front costs for the oil industry have all been paid, for the
infrastructure, the wells, pipelines, refineries, ships, etc.  Since a
portion of those can continue to be used, I don't think that the advantages
of scale will be lost anytime soon.  Maybe by 2100, but it is hard to know
in advance what energy sources will be available by then.
     We need to level the playing field between fossil fuels and renewable
energy, by removing the huge subsidies for fossil fuels (estimated at a
half Trillion US $ per year) for a start.  Economist argue that subsidies
distort economies, making things that are actually not profitable,
profitable.  In effect, it is taking money from all taxpayers and giving it
to individual companies to provide the profit that they can't produce on
their own.  It makes the economy as a whole less efficient and competitive,
so the nation as a whole pays a price.  Subsidies that pay for damaging the
environment have been called "perverse subsidies."  No wonder renewable
energy can't compete, with subsidies like that.  A carbon dividend can be
levied on carbon at its source and the revenue distributed to residents.
So revenue-neutral.  Doesn't kill the economy.  British Colombia, Canada,
has such a program, and it has been quite successful (
http://www.skepticalscience.com/co2-limits-economy.htm).  European oil
companies want a carbon price, so they can plan ahead.  Once these things
are done, suddenly renewable energy will become less expensive than fossil
fuels, and people will shift voluntarily, and efficiently if the free
market is allowed to decide what are the most economical ways to do it.  I
think some people will be surprised how fast it goes once renewable energy
is cheaper than fossil fuels.
     Since it will take time, we need to get started, in a serious way.
The sooner the better, the sooner we start the less drastic and fast the
change has to be and the easier it will be.

Cheers,  Doug

On Mon, Aug 24, 2015 at 9:40 AM, Durwood M. Dugger <ddugger at biocepts.com>

> Peter,
> I think Gene is more right than you think and for a lot of good reasons.
>  <
> https://twitter.com/intent/tweet?url=http://thewritepractice.com/start-up/&text=%20Eventually,%20like%20the%20entrepreneur,%20as%20a%20writer,%20you%20will%20have%20to%20ask%20for%20an%20investment%20from%20others.%20&via=write_practice
> >
> "we can be more pro-active and achieve the shift much more rapidly”
> I note you don’t suggest how this shift can be made more rapidly. You seem
> to think a slow transition off petroleum is just an option that we chose
> not to take. It isn’t an option, it is an impossibility.
> This kind of statement about a more rapid shift off petroleum is usually
> not based on an in depth understanding of the complexity of our global
> petroleum dependence economics - both physical or fiscal. That perspective
> does put you among the vast overwhelming majority of people on the planet..
> That isn’t good news for any of us.
> Not understanding that currently we are closing on 95% of the world’s food
> supply being absolutely petroleum dependent (as Asia has moved from manure
> to the western NPK ag. production model - depending on who makes the
> estimates) - is usually the basis of this inadequate understanding.
> Additionally, it is not understanding that the petro-chemical industry (2%
> of petroleum production) of which NPK and high production ag. management
> chemicals are not just a physical supply dependence on petroleum resources,
> but are an economic dependence on the global petroleum energy industry's
> economy-of-scale cost efficiencies. Economic dependence in that the current
> economy-of-scales for the petroleum energy industry are necessary to create
> the cost efficiency of non-energy petro-chemcial production on which the
> current global food supply critically depends.
> Current scale global food production dependence on petro-chemicals would
> be grossly more expensive if the petro-chemical industry suddenly became
> economically responsible for all the costs of their petro-chemical
> feedstocks - exploration, discovery, drilling, field development, storage
> transport of crude to refineries - are all scale dependent activities. All
> the stuff petro-chemical producers currently purchase directly from the
> petroleum energy industry refineries.
> More expensive so much so that very little of the world’s population could
> afford food if the petro-chemical industry suddenly became a stand alone
> industry. The international chaos from food shortages (from increased food
> pricing - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_riot <
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_riot>) has already been experienced at
> comparative micro-scale. Until we can figure out how to displace petroleum
> energy industry scales and effectively disassociate and isolate its
> economics from petro-chemical production - again - all without disturbing
> current food production economics - any quick shift off petroleum is
> absolutely extremely limited if not impossible.
> Additionally, consider that to date - alternatives such as at-scale
> biofuel production are actually dependent on many of the same petroleum
> dependent ag. chemicals as our food production - like NPK. At-scale
> biofuels don’t move us off petroleum, they actually make us more dependent
> on it. Yes, you can produce biofuels on wastes - but not at the significant
> scales needed to get us off petroleum and we need to realize that those
> wastes being counted on for waste-to-biofuel production… are being produced
> with current petroleum dependent inputs. Waste-to-biofuel is a recycling
> process and like all recycling processes it needs resources to recycle. The
> natural phosphorus cycle limits are far, far, below where are with NPK.
> Natural production schemes such “organic” and or “permaculture” are all
> limited by the natural phosphorus cycle and couldn’t be significant food
> production techniques without having NPK ag. wastes to recycle.
> While wind and sun alternative energy sources don’t have a lot of
> consumables that are petroleum dependent, the production of equipment for
> both types of energy devices (wind generators, solar panels, inverters,
> switching and batteries) have large amounts of petroleum industry inputs.
> Primarily in plastics, but other organic chemical products that can’t be
> produced in significant quantities… which would negatively affect their
> costs without the substantial economies-of-scale offered by the current
> global petroleum industry. Yes, one day maybe we will be able to make
> plastics from the CO2 in the air as some research suggests today, but that
> technology nor its economics are not here today.
> The reality is that despite all of the money spent, the hope and the hype
> by alternative energy promoters that current alternative energy technology
> will replace petroleum - it’s just that hope and hype - and wasted money. “
> asted" because basic mass balance analysis had predicted the lack of
> sufficient net energy yields and inadequate economic viability (ROE) long
> before most of this alternative energy research was ever accomplished. No
> one listened.
> Unless something like Locheed Martin's compact fusion reactor - and or
> others bragging about also having a near free commercial fusion energy
> source actually happens as predicted - in 5-10 years, we aren’t going to
> fill either the energy or the economic gaps necessary to leave petroleum,
> and or stave off a near future massive resource depletion/economic and or
> resulting population crashes. Over population pressures being another
> related resource management problem directly tied to excessive CO2, but not
> being dealt with honestly or straightforwardly.
> No matter how great the environmental need, the idea that we can make a
> quick shift off of our petroleum economy is not well founded in physics or
> economics and consequently poorly conceived - and dangerous. We don’t use
> petroleum products because they are easy to find, cheap to process, safe to
> work with, smell good or just fun to have around. We simply don’t have a
> viable replacement at this point in time that can replace petroleum without
> creating global chaos. What ever global plans we make and expend remaining
> resources taking action on - those plans need to be firmly based on the
> reality of our current petroleum dependence and its economic interdependent
> complexities - to have any meaningful chance of positive future impacts.
> I have no relationship with any petroleum related companies - beyond being
> a fuel and utility consumer. If I had the ability to end global dependence
> on petroleum tomorrow without creating a bigger problem than its negative
> CO2 and other impacts - I would, but I don’t.  I’m stuck dealing with
> petroleum’s current dependence realities, but at least I am aware of them.
> Best regards,
> Durwood M. Dugger, Pres.
> ddugger at biocepts.com
> BCI, Inc. <http://www.biocepts.com/BCI/Home.html>
> _______________________________________________
> Coral-List mailing list
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Douglas Fenner
Contractor with Ocean Associates, Inc.
PO Box 7390
Pago Pago, American Samoa 96799  USA

phone 1 684 622-7084

Join the International Society for Reef Studies.  Membership includes a
subscription to the journal Coral Reefs, there are discounts for pdf
subscriptions and developing countries.  www.fit.edu/isrs/

"Belief in climate change is optional, participation is not."- Jim Beever.
  "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own facts."-
Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

Energy policy: push renewables to spur carbon pricing.  (the world
subsidizes fossil fuels a half Trillion dollars a year!)


5 trillion tons of ice lost since 2002.  (that's trillion with a "T".
Check the steady loss in the graphs.)


Historically unprecedented global glacier decline in the early 21st century..


website:  http://independent.academia.edu/DouglasFenner

blog: http://ocean.si.edu/blog/reefs-american-samoa-story-hope
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