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Good and bad news on the climate

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  • Good and bad news on the climate

    We'll do the bad news first. According to NASA and NOAA, 2020 was in a statistical tie for the warmest year on record, within a small fraction of a degree of 2016. What's notable about that is that this came despite the year having an overall trend towards cooler La Niña conditions. (It started off in weak El Nino, and shifted early in the year towards the cooler state). Just four years ago, setting a record required a strong El Niño to drive the warming; now, we can apparently get there without anything special happening. It's now the 7th year in a row that temperatures are above anything that came before in the instrument record - all 7 occupy spots in the 7 warmest years on record. You also have to go back 44 years to get to a year that was below the average temperature of the 20th century.

    The year's average temperature was 1.2C above the 20th century average. That's getting very close to the 1.5C target that many nations have pledged to hit. At recent rates of warming, we may start seeing the first years exceed 1.5C in about a decade, and that to be the typical temperature about a decade after that.

    Which is depressing. So, to cheer people up, here's some good news: 80% of the planned additions to the US grid this year will be emissions free. The remaining 20 percent will be natural gas, which is the least polluting of fossil fuels, and is typically flexible enough to be shut off easily when renewables are producing well. This continues a precipitous decline for fossil fuels, which were over 60% of the new additions just a few years ago.

    It's an interesting year for renewables to dominate (70% of additions will be wind or solar). 2020 was supposed to mark the end of tax credits meant to promote wind and solar, which usually means projects get pushed through the pipeline rapidly, and then installations tail off badly in the year following. But by 2019, wind had reached the point where, in a lot of the US, even without tax breaks, it would be cheaper to build and operate a wind farm than it would be to buy the fuel for an existing natural gas plant. Around the same time, the plunge in photovoltaic costs meant that solar in sunny regions had, for the first time, become the cheapest way to generate power, having been the most expensive only a decade ago.

    The tax breaks ended up being extended as part of the recent budget deal, and they'll still play a role, in that they'll ensure some projects that would otherwise be marginal will turn a profit. But for a lot of the uS, they're economically irrelevant now.

    We've still got a long way to go before the grid as a whole gets close to where we need it to be (and we clearly need to be there quickly), and there are some very significant hurdles once we start producing more than 80% of our power from sources that aren't guaranteed. But we're now at the point where economics should drive us to figure those challenges out.

    Note for Cowpoke: Texas will be leading the way with the most wind and solar added.
    "Any sufficiently advanced stupidity is indistinguishable from trolling."

  • #2
    Thank you, sir, for that shout-out in my direction.

    And, TODAY would be a great day for the wind power... supposed to be 40MPH winds from the North pretty much all day today!
    "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post
      Thank you, sir, for that shout-out in my direction.

      And, TODAY would be a great day for the wind power... supposed to be 40MPH winds from the North pretty much all day today!

      We had 165km = 102mph wind gusts in our province on Wednesday this week. Set a whack of records (as well as tipping over huge trucks and massive trees) in the south of the province where it's windy ALL the time.




      Securely anchored to the Rock amid every storm of trial, testing or tribulation.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by mossrose View Post


        We had 165km = 102mph wind gusts in our province on Wednesday this week. Set a whack of records (as well as tipping over huge trucks and massive trees) in the south of the province where it's windy ALL the time.

        We live in a new development that is named after the fact that it's breezy here. I'm up on a hill, and we OFTEN get breezes or strong wind.
        One of the benefits of that is that we NEVER have mosquitos -- they don't like the wind.
        "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post

          We live in a new development that is named after the fact that it's breezy here. I'm up on a hill, and we OFTEN get breezes or strong wind.
          One of the benefits of that is that we NEVER have mosquitos -- they don't like the wind.

          Yeah, they don't. Not as windy where I live now, although it's gotten worse over the years, so we still get skeeters on days that are less breezy.


          Securely anchored to the Rock amid every storm of trial, testing or tribulation.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by mossrose View Post


            Yeah, they don't. Not as windy where I live now, although it's gotten worse over the years, so we still get skeeters on days that are less breezy.
            I was actually surprised when we were watching one of those TV series -- Alaskan State Troopers? -- that one of their biggest problems was mosquitoes. For some reason, that really surprised me.
            "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post

              I was actually surprised when we were watching one of those TV series -- Alaskan State Troopers? -- that one of their biggest problems was mosquitoes. For some reason, that really surprised me.
              I remember GJ talking about the mosquitoes, and the black flies are just as bad. I think they take a chunk out of you. I'm not familiar with them here.

              We've certainly had a milder winter than was predicted. Something about La Niña behaving like an El Niño instead. The past 5 weeks have been lovely, although we've had freezing rain this week, which is really bad. Supposed to cool off next week quite a bit, I think.


              Securely anchored to the Rock amid every storm of trial, testing or tribulation.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by mossrose View Post

                I remember GJ talking about the mosquitoes, and the black flies are just as bad. I think they take a chunk out of you. I'm not familiar with them here.

                We've certainly had a milder winter than was predicted. Something about La Niña behaving like an El Niño instead. The past 5 weeks have been lovely, although we've had freezing rain this week, which is really bad. Supposed to cool off next week quite a bit, I think.
                Bacon. Crispy like we used to get before the war.

                In Jed's honor.
                "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post

                  Bacon. Crispy like we used to get before the war.

                  In Jed's honor.
                  Oh, how I miss him.


                  Securely anchored to the Rock amid every storm of trial, testing or tribulation.

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                  • #10
                    Today is a blizzard for me. Global Warming anyone....anyone?

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by mossrose View Post

                      I remember GJ talking about the mosquitoes, and the black flies are just as bad. I think they take a chunk out of you.
                      Blackfly, sung by Canadian folk singer Wade Hemsworth, with back-up vocals by the McGarrigle sisters.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by HMS_Beagle View Post

                        Blackfly, sung by Canadian folk singer Wade Hemsworth, with back-up vocals by the McGarrigle sisters.

                        lovit!
                        "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by HMS_Beagle View Post

                          Blackfly, sung by Canadian folk singer Wade Hemsworth, with back-up vocals by the McGarrigle sisters.

                          Good old National Film Board of Canada. Some of the best shorts out there!


                          Securely anchored to the Rock amid every storm of trial, testing or tribulation.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by mossrose View Post

                            Good old National Film Board of Canada. Some of the best shorts out there!
                            That is truly a spectacular bit of animation.

                            Checking Wikipedia, i see black flies and sand flies are one and the same. Will confirm they are evil.
                            "Any sufficiently advanced stupidity is indistinguishable from trolling."

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by TheLurch View Post
                              That is truly a spectacular bit of animation.

                              Checking Wikipedia, i see black flies and sand flies are one and the same. Will confirm they are evil.
                              Indeed. They have them in Minnesota (where they call them biting gnats) which we vacationed in during the summer months. They and the mosquitos were so bad that when the trucks spraying DDT would come through I would deliberately stand in the clouds holding my breath with both arms stretched out to either side. Anything to keep from being consumed by them.

                              I always wondered why many of the mosquito bites I got there would be hot to the touch and itch like crazy for a couple of days, whereas the ones I'd get in Maryland or Georgia only itched for a few hours. Only recently I discovered those were the black fly bites.

                              I'm always still in trouble again

                              "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
                              "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

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