Making Liquid Fuels From Sun And Air

Liquid fuel powering internal combustion engines is inherently inefficient. This is because innumerable explosions causing kinetic work to be done also makes piles of heat, and for other reasons. The same amount of energy put into an electric motor and an internal combustion motor produce more usable work for the former than the latter. Also, electric motors can operate at similar efficiencies across a range of speeds, while internal combustion motors require more messing around to change speeds. And then there is torque. Torque is apparently at the center of coolness for many vehicle aficionados. If you can get your hot car or motorcycle to go from zero to fast in a second or two, that is considered cool, even if it has almost no day to day applications. An electric motor has that ability out of the box, an internal combustion motor has to be a super motor to do that well.

Also, liquid fuels spill and smell bad and can explode, and all that. On the other hand, electricity has its limitation too. In the long run, we probably need to change most of our moving things, vehicles, planes, etc. over to mostly electric (with energy recovery from brakes, etc.). But liquid fuel will still be important in certain applications. Mission critical backup generators that you hardly ever need but are life or death are probably best run on liquid fuels stored long term, like at the South Pole research station or in any hospital. We probably will eventually see electric airplanes, but for long time we are probably going to have to put liquid fuel in flying machines. So, in order to not destroy the essential yet merely good enough in pursuit of an unrealistic simplistic perfection of some sort, we need to keep liquid fuels on the table. But, having said that, we need to entirely stop using fossil petroleum based liquid fuels and switch entirely to non-fossil molecules.

One way to do that is to simulate the production of burnable liquids (as nature does) in machines, using non fossil based raw materials. Obviously biodiesel and ethanol are example of this, but these fuel sources have a serious limitation. They take up agricultural resources, and over the next few decades we are likely to hit a ceiling in our agricultural productivity. There are a lot of ways to address that problem, and one of the key ways on the table right now is to not convert much more agricultural land to ethanol or diesel production.

So what about a machine that takes sunlight, CO2 from the atmosphere, and some water and produces a burnable liquid?

The current issue of Science has a writeup on recent research in this area. I’m fairly certain it is not behind a paywall, and can read it yourself: Tailpipe to tank by Robert F. Service.

The writeup talks about multiple alternative research projects that are approaching this problem with various difficulties and various levels of success. This is all very early research but it is all very promising.

The task essentially boils down to running combustion in reverse, injecting energy from the sun or other renewables into chemical bonds. “It’s a very challenging problem, because it’s always an uphill battle,” says John Keith, a chemist at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania. It’s what plants do, of course, to make the sugars they need to grow. But plants convert only about 1% of the energy that hits them into chemical energy. To power our industrial society, researchers need to do far better. Keith likens the challenge to putting a man on the moon.

The basic method seems to be about the same in all cases. You take a CO2 molecule and convert it to CO by knocking off one Oxygen atom, then combine the CO with H2) to produce “syngas” which can be converted to methanol (a kind of alcohol) which can then be converted into a variety of products. A similar process in widespread use uses fossil methane as a base molecule instead of atmospheric CO2.

A paper about to be published in Advanced Science details a process that uses CO and H2 and photovoltaic generated electricity.

It focuses a broad swath of sunlight onto a semiconductor panel that converts 38% of the incoming energy into electricity at a high voltage. The electricity is shunted to electrodes in two electrochemical cells: one that splits water molecules and another that splits CO2. Meanwhile, much of the remaining energy in the sunlight is captured as heat and used to preheat the two cells to hundreds of degrees, a step that lowers the amount of electricity needed to split water and CO2 molecules by roughly 25%. In the end, Licht says, as much as 50% of the incoming solar energy can be converted into chemical bonds.

This and other methods of making a sun, water, and air based liquid fuel would at least initially be expensive. But who cares? If we convert most of our energy to motion machinery to electric, we won’t need that much, and the remaining uses will be relatively specialized. So what if a hospital has to pay $10.00 a gallon to have a thousand gallons of fuel for use as a backup source of energy to run generators during emergencies? That would be a tiny fraction of the cost of running a hospital. A tiny fraction of a fraction.

And, it need not be super expensive. There is not a rare substance that must be mined from third world war torn client states, or taken away from some other critical use, involved. Go read the original writ-up for a lot more detail on various processes and their potential (and potential costs).

I want to make this point: This is not a way of forestalling climate change by removing CO2 from the air. It would remove CO2, but the amount of CO2 humans have added is huge, and the use of sun/air/water liquid fuels would be small, and their use would return the CO2 to the air. So this is not carbon capture.

Also, this. An industry that produces a synthetic liquid fuel can preferentially use a peak energy. I think we need to explore this idea more. For example, imagine collecting piles of recycled aluminum at a plant that uses great amounts of electricity to melt it down and turn it into ingots for industrial use. The entire plant could be designed to operate on demand and only now and then, when there happens to be piles of extra electricity in a clean-energy rich energy ecosystem, perhaps because it is sunny and windy and other demands happen to be low. The employment structure of the plant would also be designed to do this, drawing on-call workers off of other activities to run the plant. This would essentially amount to carrying out a high energy demand industrial task with free energy. Well, a sun/air/water liquid fuel system could work this way as well. This idea has not gone un-thought:

…Paul Kenis, a solar fuels researcher at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, argues that the broad penetration of solar and wind power offers hope. Denmark, for example, already produces some 30% of its electricity from wind farms and is on pace to reach 50% by 2020. On a particularly blustery day in July, the nation’s wind turbines generated as much as 140% of the country’s electrical requirements. The excess was sent to its neighbors, Germany, Norway, and Sweden. But the oversupply added to utilities’ fears that in times of peak renewable power production, the value of electricity could fall to zero or even below, as producers would have to pay others to take it so as not to damage their grid.

That’s where solar fuel producers could stand to benefit, Kenis says: By absorbing that power and using it to make fuels and other commodities, they could essentially act as energy banks and perhaps earn some cash as well. For now, Kanan argues, it still makes the most economic sense simply to shunt excess renewable power into the grid, displacing fossil energy. But someday, if renewable power becomes widespread enough and the technology for making renewable fuels improves, we may be able to guzzle gas without guilt, knowing we are just burning sunlight.


This story on Slashdot

Service Robert F. Feature Article. Tailpipe to Tank. 2015. Vol. 349 no. 6253 pp. 1158-1160. DOI: 10.1126/science.349.6253.1158

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84 thoughts on “Making Liquid Fuels From Sun And Air

  1. > An industry that produces a synthetic liquid fuel and be
    > a peak-use energy.

    Looking for some words that may have been dropped.

  2. One of the many odd assertions that many deniers make is that “librals” (the world’s scientists) wish to completely cease the use of fossil fuels immediately, as some kind of global socialist communist Malthusian destruction of 99% of the world’s human population, leaving only the “libral elite” (re: educated, intelligent people).

    If that is so, why are these “librals” (i.e., scientists) working so bloody hard trying to find carbon neutral replacements for fossil fuels? Wouldn’t they just go play chess, or abuse their livers in some opium den?

    Liquid fuel kicks ass: I like it. It’s very useful, and it’s pretty when it’s oxidizing rapidly. But it takes a bloody hell of a lot of energy (in my case, fire wood) to run a refluxing still— the plug-in kind take around 1,500 watts. I would rather use that energy source to perform work, than to make liquid fuel with it.

    There was a… shall we say,,, not quite a genius on YouTube (Dustin Pereslete) who came up with a brilliant idea of putting a diesel powered generator in his car, to run a hydrolysis device, to produce oxyhydrogen, to pipe into the car’s intake manifold. I still marvel at the amazing polymath.

  3. Thanks, Hank. Fixed!

    Yes, the “ending of fossil fuel” meme is there, but the “ending liquid fuel” idea is actually found among greens as well, which is why I spent some effort pointing out that liquid fuels will always be handy for certain purposes.


    1. Yes, the “ending of fossil fuel” meme is there, but the “ending liquid fuel” idea is actually found among greens as well, which is why I spent some effort pointing out that liquid fuels will always be handy for certain purposes.

      Indeed, liquid fuels are necessary for many millions of people. I have yet to see or read or hear of any science-communicator say the opposite: I only see ant-science conspiracy fearmongers say that scientists say the opposite— that all CO2-producing fuels must end, and soon. The pro-science people say the opposite: humanity should use *MORE* energy, to lift the quality of life and standard of living for everyone: having a CO2-neutral liquid fuel can and will do that, in surplus, easily transported. It just will not happen within my life time.

  4. Pingback: Sungas | Donal
  5. Re. Denmark:
    Last year the figure for wind produced electricity was 39%. The problem of overproduction can be solved with a more extensive/international transmission net, and more storage. Part of the solution is the ongoing expansion of the co-generation system. This may be of interest:
    https://www.iea.org/publications/freepublications/publication/CoGeneration_RenewablesSolutionsforaLowCarbonEnergyFuture.pdf
    Also, under normal conditions it can’t pay to produce hydrogen, but if you have a surplus of otherwise unusable energy it can.

    “Obviously biodiesel and ethanol are example of this, but these fuel sources have a serious limitation. They take up agricultural resources, and over the next few decades we are likely to hit a ceiling in our agricultural productivity.”

    They also have a lower EROI than most other fuels. In some cases it takes more energy to supply the fuel than can be obtained from it. They’re also less energy dense than conventional liquid fuels.

    Re. a US transition to renewables:

    https://web.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/USStatesWWS.pdf

  6. Large plants in CA already run on the system of only using power if there’s enough to go around, which is pretty much just another way of saying only using power if there’s too much. I believe the aluminium smelting plants in Quebec do the same.

  7. #7
    I’ve seen a good number of figures on the EROI of different energy sources. None of them claim that biodiesel is equal to gasoline or diesel from conventional oil. The figures for energy density vary. Sometimes the figure for biodiesel is about the same as that for diesel from conventional oil, sometimes it’s considerably lower. The information below is from a text-lite Scientific American Article, THE TRUE COST OF Fossil Fuels

    Distance Driven on One Gigajoule of Energy Invested in Fuel Production (miles)
    Gasoline from conventional oil: 3,600
    Ethanol from sugarcane: 2,000
    Biodiesel from soy: 1,400
    Gasoline from tar sands: 1,100
    Gasoline from heavy oil: 900
    Ethanol from corn: 300
    Electric car running on U.S. grid electricity: 6,500

    Minimum EROI required for the basic functions of an industrial society: 5-9
    Conventional oil: 16
    Ethanol from sugarcane: 9
    Biodiesel from soy: 5.5
    Hydroelectric: 40+
    Wind: 20
    http://literacy473.weebly.com/uploads/9/1/6/7/9167715/inman_2013_true_cost_of_fossil_fuels_scientificamerican0413-58.pdf

    Also:
    http://www.roboticscaucus.org/ENERGYPOLICYCMTEMTGS/Nov2012AGENDA/documents/DFID_Report1_2012_11_04-2.pdf p.16
    “The mean EROI value for ethanol (1.3:1 with an n of 75 from 31 publications) [24, 73, 102, 104, 109-133, 197] and diesel from biomass (0.9:1 with an n of 28 from 16 publications) [73, 104, 112, 122, 134-143, 151, 197] deliver low EROI values that are typically at or below the 3:1 minimum extended EROI value required for a fuel to be minimally useful to society.”

  8. Where are the corresponding figures for butanol, bio-butanol, and nuclear?

    Butanol has some significant advantages, namely that it can be mixed in almost any ratio with gasoline and even completely substitute for it to be used as a motor fuel. This allows the use of existing motor vehicles & designs, which helps greatly with the transition out of using gasoline.

    Also, it can be made from switchgrass, rather than food crops, allowing the use of marginal land for production.

  9. Desertphile: I’ve encountered pushback on ideas that involve making personal transport (i.e. cars) more efficient because everyone needs to be taking public transit only, and I’ve encountered pushback on liquid fuels that are not fossil-carbon based, from greens.


    1. Desertphile: I’ve encountered pushback on ideas that involve making personal transport (i.e. cars) more efficient because everyone needs to be taking public transit only, and I’ve encountered pushback on liquid fuels that are not fossil-carbon based, from greens.

      That makes me shudder with dread, contemplating the future. What humans decide right now on how to solve the crisis will determine the standard of living and quality of life for billions of people over the next 1,000 years or so.

      Of course “public transportation” in the USA cannot work because traveling distances are often too far. In New Mexico there is Big Blue Bus that will move people around, but one must plan trips to town a day or two in advance, schedule a bus pickup, and then hike several hours to get to a paved road. Perhaps the “greens” who insist on public transportation, excluding private car transport, should spend some time on the Navajo, Apache, and Hopi reservations— where people get around by hitch hiking.

      Maybe you could write a article on what “greens” mean.

      It is vitally important that “developing countries” have access to liquid fuels, in great quantities. If “greens” don’t like that fact, they can go live in those places and see how they like living without electric generators, cars, refrigeration, and the like. Of course they will have to sail there instead of fly of take a motorized boat.

  10. #11, 14
    “Where are the corresponding figures for butanol, bio-butanol, and nuclear?”
    I didn’t list all figures. The Scientific American article concludes that nuclear has an EROI of 5. The other source I linked to gives nuclear an EROI of (eyeballing) around 13%. (See bar graph p.16.)
    Re. butanol, please see the youtube video from my first link. Replacing gas with butanol would require a large amount of land. Pages 14 and 15 from the link below have figures on EROI.
    Furthermore:
    “Compared to ethanol production, isobutanol and n-butanol production processes exhibit higher direct CO2 (all biogenic), SO2, and NO2 emissions, as well as higher consumptive water use, at the conversion stage. However, this is primarily a function of reduced fuel yields for the butanol cases.” p.11
    http://www3.aiche.org/proceedings/content/Annual-2013/extended-abstracts/P335556.pdf

    “cosmicomics: I don’t see a direct biodiesel regular diesel comparison there.
    If you accept that diesel would fall under “Oil and gas,” then the EROI comparison would be:
    Diesel from oil: around 18
    Biodiesel: 1.3
    I haven’t seen any figures that treat diesel apart from oil. As I wrote above, figures on the energy density of biodiesel seem to vary. The Scientific American article would seem to indicate a significantly lower density. Other sources indicate a much smaller difference:
    “The energy density of petroleum diesel is about 130,000 British thermal units (BTU) per gallon and that of biodiesel is about 118,000 BTU per gallon. Both values are much greater than that of ethanol, which is about 76,000 BTU per gallon. Biodiesel has lower energy density than petroleum diesel because it contains oxygen, which contributes to the molecular weight but not the heating value.”
    https://www.americanscientist.org/issues/pub/miles-per-gallon-of-biofuel
    Also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_content_of_biofuel

  11. @Cosmic, Just to clarify, I presume you are talking about 100% bio-based diesel, and not the 2, 5 or 20% biodiesel they sell at the pumps.

  12. So … as I said, biodiesel and regular diesel are basically the same. That’s not a large difference.

    The bigness of the difference with ethanol seems to drag the biodiesel difference along with it.

  13. Some progress on commercialization is already taking place e.g.

    Methanol production in Iceland, I assuming using waste CO2 from a geothermal plant. I’m assuming it comes with the water.
    http://www.carbonrecycling.is/

    Item on the use of excess electricity in Germany.
    http://www.pv-magazine.com/news/details/beitrag/audi-opens-6-mw-power-to-gas-facility_100011859/#axzz3m1cSgnMc

    and the US Navy is getting into the act I assume to make aircraft carriers more independent.
    http://cleantechnica.com/2012/09/26/u-s-navy-makes-low-cost-renewable-fuel-from-seawater/

  14. #17
    Yes. But the 2, 5, or 20% in blends would have the same characteristics as the pure product.

    #11
    Re. “the use of marginal land for production.”

    This sounds good in theory, but wouldn’t that involve small patches of land, which would make harvesting (and everything else) more time consuming and less energy efficient?

    One other thing: the demand for biofuels in wealthy countries has an adverse effect on food prices and how land is used in poor ones.
    http://www.wri.org/publication/avoiding-bioenergy-competition-food-crops-and-land
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/06/science/earth/in-fields-and-markets-guatemalans-feel- squeeze-of-biofuel-demand.html?_r=0

  15. “So … as I said, biodiesel and regular diesel are basically the same. That’s not a large difference.” #18

    Not if you take EROI into account.

  16. #18

    Better, there is a big difference when you take EROI into account. 18 is 13.8 times larger than 1.3. An EROI of 1.3 isn’t high enough to power a modern society.

  17. EROI is a red herring and not of much interest. It is mostly used by petroleum interests to dampen down interest in other products.

  18. How can EROI not be of much interest? If it takes 100 megajoules to grow corn and turn it into enough ethanol to provide you with 90 megajoules of energy in your vehicle (or other end use), you’re on the losing end of the deal…

    Another example: The hydrogen-powered car. You can burn enough fossil fuels to produce liquid hydrogen to power such a car for 1000 miles… Or just burn the fossil fuel in an ICE car directly and drive it for 4000 miles. I.e., making hydrogen is not an efficient process (among many other reasons why it’s not a good motor fuel, or, more accurately perhaps, a “liquid battery”).

    If you don’t consider EROI, then electric cars look almost perfect — practically perpetual motion machines. One must consider where the electrons come from — and how much energy is needed to produce them & pump them into your car’s battery.

    It’s like TCO (Total Cost of Ownership)…

  19. In principle it is of interest. There are two or three problems

    One is that in so many cases, especially when it comes to clean alternatives that are not even in production, the number is pretty much irrelevant to what would actually happen if we went into production.

    Another problem is that it is just about energy and ignores other costs and benefits. These are often far more important.

    Another (when comparing across totally different energy source types, as was bandied about above) is that if I need a liquid and you’re talking to me about the difference between a solid and a liquid, I don’t need to know that. I needed the liquid.

    Similarly, there are simply certain pathways that we want to use no matter what. I might want to have no imports of petroleum into a region where there is nothing native. Comparing petroleum to non petroleum sources would be irrelevant. There may be something about storage under specific conditions that matters a lot more to me than EROI.

    The real problem is the fetishizing of EROI. If something has a bad EROI then it has to dance backwards and in high heels, even if it is really a preferred energy source for a gazillion other reasons.

    It is like Godwin’s law. Eventually the conversation will go off track because of EROI even if it shouldn’t.

    So it is of interest, but of interest does not equal “the main thing.”

  20. I’ll add another way of looking that. EROI of any fuel that uses fossil carbon is null. Not a particular number. Just not allowed into the conversation when speaking of energy sources we want to plan to use in the future. Think of it as being the same as baby oil, but actually made out of babies. We’re not going to do that.

  21. I agree with you about wanting to deal only with fuels that “keep the carbon in the ground”. And there certainly are cases where you need a liquid fuel (aircraft comes to mind)…

    I’m thinking more along the lines of long-term sustainability and large-scale sustainability. I don’t think many people consider that you can “paint yourself into a corner” as it were, regarding energy production in some poorly-managed scenarios — such as if you are dependent on & determined to use fossil fuels, but things are such that it eventually takes more fuel to find/capture/refine/transport the fuel that what you end up with, you eventually burn up all your fuel making fuel — and gradually run out.

    It’s actually an argument for solar & wind, since the (ultimate) sources for those “drops out of the sky for free” to start the chain of source to end use.

  22. #23
    EROI is a red herring and not of much interest. It is mostly used by petroleum interests to dampen down interest in other products.

    No. The complexity-reducing simplicity of this argument reminds me of, “the climate is always changing,” and “CO2 is plant food.” EROI is one of a number of factors that is essential in evaluating energy sources. It is not a fixed value. The EROI of fossil fuels has progressively gotten lower, while that of renewable sources like wind and solar has progressively gotten higher.

    #24
    Also, the comparison I was making, again, was biodiesel to diesel.

    Comparing the energy density of biodiesel to diesel is a comparison between biodiesel and diesel. So is comparing the EROI of biodiesel to diesel. So would a comparison of their respective emissions. So would a comparison of their respective externalities. So would a comparison of their respective land use. So would a comparison of their respective water use.

    #25
    And for sustainable biodiesel, it is better than any petroleum regarding EROI.

    Please provide documentation for this claim.
    1. That biodiesel is sustainable.
    2. That it has a better EROI than any petroleum regarding EROI.

    #27
    One is that in so many cases, especially when it comes to clean alternatives that are not even in production, the number is pretty much irrelevant to what would actually happen if we went into production.

    No. To give an example: There have been a good number of vertical axis wind turbine designs. They are clean in the sense that their production of energy produces no emissions. The problem is, although they move and can be nice to look at, they don’t produce any energy worth mentioning. They are greenwash garbage, and mass producing them would result in more, but cheaper garbage. Not all serious clean energy research results in pilot projects. Not all pilot projects turn out to be socially and commercially viable.
    The good projects, such as horizontal axis wind turbines and solar panels are produced, to begin with often with some kind of subsidy, and improved. Today’s wind turbines and solar panels are far more efficient than those that were produced 20 years ago.

    Also, EROI is related to cost, and for consumers cost is an important factor. If we ignore cost, we lose the battle.

    #27
    Another problem is that it is just about energy and ignores other costs and benefits. These are often far more important.

    Why not:

    Another problem is that it is just about water and ignores other costs and benefits. These are often far more important.

    Energy is primarily about energy. If what we eat doesn’t provide us with the energy we need, the other benefits that our diets provide are not sufficient.

    #27
    The real problem is the fetishizing of EROI. If something has a bad EROI then it has to dance backwards and in high heels, even if it is really a preferred energy source for a gazillion other reasons.

    No one is fetishizing EROI. In some cases fuels with a low EROI can be a preferred source of energy, but these will always be niche cases of little relevance for how we power a modern society. The minimum EROI depends on what we want. Do we really need schools, and libraries, and hospitals, water pipes and wastewater systems, roads and symphony orchestras?

  23. Some comments..

    EROEI is often a horrible and arbitrary measure.. indeed, if you include enough factors, you could probably calculate the EROEI of civilization in general to be <1, which would fail to explain why the light came on this morning.

    As far as fully synthetic fuels go, a major trick is to try and avoid making C-C bonds, because these are hard. Useful targets include Ammonia, Methanol and DME.

    Ammonia is interesting because we already have a lot of experience in bulk manufacture, storage and transport of the stuff (~50kg/person/year today). Just replace fossil fuel derived H2 in the Haber process with H2 made with surplus electricity – and any future grid with a large renewable component will have a lot of surplus electricity.

    Methanol – by direct reduction of CO2, or various reactions of hydrogen with carbon bearing waste streams, and DME by condensation of Methanol, are other alternatives.

  24. An EROI of less than one might explain why refugees are streaming out of Syria, and why Americans are seriously considering electing a reality star as President.

  25. #19… carriers more independent? Maybe the aircraft they carry or the other ships in the flotilla/task force, but I think the US carriers themselves are pretty much only dependent on reactor fuel.


    1. Like so much of what this person says, there appears to be much that they ….

      Duane Gish did it 10,000 times better than you do.


  26. Maybe they are planning on staying out for a really long time.

    USA military got $613,000,000,000 in year 2013, has no enemies to combat, and wants to save $9,000,000 a year using renewable energy. Think of the money tax-payers (of which group Kent Hovind is not included) would save if the USA Navy just sailed over the edge…. would anyone notice or care?

  27. I am aware of at least one process that makes liquid fuel from biomass and in the process captures some fraction of the carbon as “biochar”. When returned to the soil, this stuff sequesters carbon for centuries while providing significant other benefits: it improves soil friability, traps pollutants, and reduces nutrient and moisture loss.

  28. John Swallow (45) The Antarctic sea ice is not at an all time high. It is relatively low this year. So part of your assertion can be explained by cherry picking on your part.

    But yes, Antarctic sea ice has been relatively more extensive under conditions of climate change, for a few reasons. One is that windier conditions blow the ice around and break it up, allowing freezing in between floating sections, and thus expansion of the overall ice extent. Another is the very worrisome increase in fresh water because the Antarctic glaicers are melting at an alarming rate. This fresh water enhances freezing.

    Regarding the satellite measurements, you can certainly find parts of the atmosphere that are not warming, or even cooling, because the surface is warming, and this actually results in less heat going upward in the atmosphere. This is what the greenhouse effect is.

    Regarding the Arctic sea ice, again, you can cherry pick (i.e., falsify and lie) to make a counter argument, but that would be dishonest, and one has to wonder why you are doing this. Arctic sea ice extent is measurable, measured, and low.

  29. “…one has to wonder why you are doing this…”

    I thought we had our answer: John is “experimenting” on puny insects concerned about AGW. Why is he doing *that*? Good question, but I doubt we’ll ever know why he’s so broken.

  30. “the accurate satellite temperature readings”

    Why are the satellite temperature readings “accurate”? You do know they do not measure temperature, right? That the temperature is calculated from another direct measurement and involves heavy modelling of the atmosphere to try and get temperatures of different parts of that atmosphere, right?

    What is a fact is that all over the world ice has been melting fast, despite this supposed “no increase over the last 19 years”. Antarctic *sea* ice is just about the only cherry pick you had left…until this year:
    https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/service/global/sh-seaice/201508.gif
    See that negative-pointing bar on the far right? That’s the Antarctic sea ice extent in 2015 vs the 1980-210 mean. Oops!

    Of course, Antarctic sea ice extent does have a positive trend of about 0.8% over the last 30 years, compared to a negative trend of 10% for the Arctic, so yes, we should worry about the Arctic.

    1. “the accurate satellite temperature readings”

      Why are the satellite temperature readings “accurate?”


      Good luck getting a rational answer for that. 🙂 RSS “measures” roughly 0.6% of the planet; not even scientists at RSS use the data to estimate Earth’s warming trend.

  31. #36. An aircraft carrier isn’t a weapon unless it’s planes can fly: is a mobile chunk of metal. I suppose you could use it as a battering ram. It’s also more or less a sitting duck – a BIG sitting duck; if it’s escorts aren’t there. Both those require Jet-A so the independence comes from reducing the size of supply chain. That goes for remote bases such as Ascension Island and Diego Garcia where solar and wind could (possibly) be substituted for the ships reactor. I’m not a huge fan of the DOD but at the moment I’m seeing slightly more sanity there than say for example the GOP.

  32. John Swallow, why did you cherry pick May? Why not September 2015, the latest data point? Is it
    a) because it contradicts your claim, and that simply won’t do
    b) you just repeat talking points from elsewhere and have no idea where to find the information
    ?

    If b) see here: http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/index.html and remember to select “Antarctic”. You can also select monthly and daily data, and so far, since August, the Antarctic sea ice extent is at or lower than the 1980-2010 average.

    Your cherry-pick is currently failing you!

  33. John, I am discussing YOUR cherry pick, and you just ignored me when I pointed it out the first time. Now you want me to discuss something Greg said, but I do not react well to attempts to evade the issue of YOU cherry picking. Greg just gave an incorrect link with old data, because his claim that it presently is NOT at an all-time high is simply true, as I showed you.

    So, back to your cherry pick: why did you take May, and not September? Is it
    a) because it contradicts your claim, and that simply won’t do
    b) you just repeat talking points from elsewhere and have no idea where to find the information
    ?

    1. So, back to your cherry pick: why did you take May, and not September? Is it:
      a) because it contradicts your claim, and that simply won’t do
      b) you just repeat talking points from elsewhere and have no idea where to find the information
      ?


      c) lying for a just cause (the “free market” will make us all fabulously wealthy, if only no regulations existed) is noble

  34. Unexpectedly, John Swallow goes on a Gish-gallop, unable to acknowledge that his claim that Antarctic sea ice is now at record extent is a lie (as I showed you with data).

    And if you think it is so important that Arctic sea ice had a larger extent in 2013 than the extremely low value in 2012, it shows to me you are only concerned about a trend when it fits your ideology (the +1.2%/decade of Antarctic sea ice), and ignore it when the trend does not (the -10%/decade for Arctic sea ice), and focus on a few selected data points that do fit into your narrative. Which also explains why you so strongly believe that the satellite data is more accurate, without providing any evidence that they are, and call NASA and NOAA data “doctored”. You must by necessity believe the same for the data from BEST, for the Japanese Meteorological Agency, and from the Met Office/CRU (who all give similar results to the NASA and NOAA data), and thus are proposing a large conspiracy. Which makes you sound like a conspiracy nutter, which, of course, you indeed are.

    Face it, John Swallow, your rhetorical attempts to muddy the water just don’t work when you are dealing with actual scientists.

    1. Don’t bother – you can’t influence the deniers with facts.


      Sane people don’t try: deniers are only a source of entertainment, after the pity becomes exhausted.

  35. Huh. A couple of weeks ago, our host informed us that John Swallow wouldn’t be commenting here anymore:

    Just to let you’all know, John Swallow, a.k.a. J. Doug Swallow, and other pseudonyms apparently, has resigned as a commenter on this blog. He has revealed to me that his commenting here was an experiment. I assume you’all signed permission and disclosure forms.

    It hasn’t been disclosed what hypothesis he’s testing, but it seems his experiment is ongoing. Perhaps he simply wishes to see how long climate realists will keep on earnestly responding to his repeated rebunking of even the most simplistic AGW-denier memes?

    1. It hasn’t been disclosed what hypothesis he’s testing, but it seems his experiment is ongoing. Perhaps he simply wishes to see how long climate realists will keep on earnestly responding to his repeated rebunking of even the most simplistic AGW-denier memes?

      “John Swallow” no longer has any entertainment value. He’s like a clown that sits in the corner with a sharp knife, muttering to himself about how all of his enemies will some day Get Theirs: spooky, tragic, and to be kept an eye on.

  36. John Swallow does everything he can once again to not have to respond to his LIE about Antarctic sea ice presently being at record values.

    He also does everything he can to not have to acknowledge Arctic sea ice is dropping much faster than Antarctic sea ice is growing. And he ignores that Antarctica as a whole is loosing mass. John is an ignorant.

  37. Swallow once again refuses steadfastly to admit his lie.

    Instead he goes off and doubles down about a previous lie about Shell and BP “founding CRU”. They provided funding, sponsorships for CRU when it started, but this is not the same as *founding* – in particular taking into account there were many others, while Swallow suggested it was just Shell and BP. Words matter, Swallow, and you claimed it was Shell and BP that founded CRU, when in reality they were merely among the first *funders* of CRU.

  38. “I do not know what the ice extent is today for Antarctica and I would like for Marco to send me the link so that I can come to know as much as he does about the ice on Antarctica’s ocean’s & its extent and what it is in relation to other years”

    I provided a link several days ago. In fact, I provided two different links on two occasions. You responded to one of those messages, so what’s this fake ignorance all about?! You can find those links yourself in the thread above.

    And if you are so good at finding stuff from many years ago, why is it so difficult for you to find all the recent papers about mass loss of Antarctica?

    Here, one of the latest papers:
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0012821X15000564
    (there are many, many more)

  39. Swallow: I (claim to) want evidence from you.

    Marco: I gave you some earlier.

    Swallow: I already know it’s worthless so I’m not going to look at it.

    Surely Swallow isn’t that transparently dishonest is he? I had to have misread that, right?

    What a poster child for denial.

  40. And there goes yet another Gish gallop…sigh.

    Quite funny, though, to see a dismissive like John Swallow refer to a study that use computer modelling. Funnier is that he does not understand what it says. Let me help John Swallow by pointing to a commentary by several of the authors of the paper he highlights:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/11/weighing-change-in-antarctica/
    Their conclusion?
    Antarctica is losing mass.

    The attempt to assign that to geothermal heat is just another misrepresentation of the paper in question. Not that John Swallow would know this.

    1. “The attempt to assign that to geothermal heat is just another misrepresentation of the paper in question. Not that John Swallow would know this.”

      Antarctic is seeing six regions where ice mass is increasing very slightly, and seventeen regions where ice mass is decreasing at an astonishing rate, much faster than any and all expectations. Anti-science cultists love to point at the 6 and ignore the 17.

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