Stanford professor Mark Jacobson has a new peer reviewed study out now that assesses the various energy resources to their opportunity cost and global warming impacts. The result that appeals to the global warming crowd is loaded into a “Total grams of CO2 equivalent to electricity resources.” You can just imagine the potential in getting to those equivalents for alleging lies, damn lies, and statistics. What are left out are entropy recovery or recycling energy, conservation, and simple biomass power generation. Those plus the emphasis is solidly into electric drive for vehicles with no hard assessment as to the storage or the potential for onboard power generation.

On the other hand, the study, “Review of Solutions to Global Warming, Air Pollution, and Energy Security,” by the co-founder and Director of Stanford’s Atmospheric Energy Program deserves acclaim as it does reach into the electric field with some reality and looks into the potential over time. With so much concern about electrical power generation coming up short soon, the study does offer a valid point of view and can serve to open the discussion up. The study is a “best to date” quantitative scientific evaluation of the possible major power generation resources and their potential. It might have been more influential to stop there and offer the impacts on reliability, sustainability, global warming, human health, energy security, wildlife, and water pollution later under another title.

The careful reader will soon realize that Jacobson’s study comes up with (or uses references) some good basic assumptions that support the common sense view that there isn’t (well, yet) a silver bullet solution. Not that there aren’t lots of silver bullet positions out there, from the current fossil fuel industry to the farthest out technology speculation. It’s also a clean work, free from industrial or government stakeholder influence. Its just biased from the author’s own preconceived position.

Jacobson left openings for controversy. There is no demand side, which is appropriate as it’s a supply side paper. The comment though, “This paper reviews and ranks reviews and ranks major proposed energy related solutions to global warming . . .” etc, just opens the door to conflicts with differing views.

The paper is sure to get a lot of play so everyone with motives to get to new solutions has to pay at least cursory attention. Some of what the professor says will be weaponized, leading to more misled press, media and public opinion. For all the good work within, there are glaring biases with poor support for reality in the current market place of capital, existing investments, public perceptions, and the inevitable changes to these matters over time.

It’s an excellent paper that for a very wide range of reasons needs to be on your reading list. It also leaves one wondering how all of those conclusions would get paid for.

This is a link to a PDF of information used during Professor Jacobson’s talks.


5 Comments so far

  1. Liza Westfahl on May 26, 2011 9:27 AM

    I was just having a conversation over this I am glad I came across this it cleared some of the questions I had.

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  4. Ryan Norseth on September 12, 2011 10:24 AM

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  5. Marcos Victory on October 7, 2011 9:48 AM

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